They’re not quite wet flies. They’re certainly not Euro nymphs. What they are is magnificently buggy and ugly and horrible and they catch fish. This wee trove of beasties will be appearing in “Wet Flies 101.”
Horrible little monsters: bottom left, Fox Squirrel; bottom middle, Hare’s Ear; bottom right, Ginger Caddis Larva.
This selection of winged wets will be part of my “Wet Flies 101” presentation. It includes barred feather, quill, and jungle cock wings; English and American patterns; match-the-hatch and attractors like the Bergman-style flies from the color plates of Trout.
An olde English pattern. If you peruse the ancient and modern literature, you can find any number of variants. I don’t fish quill winged flies much, but this is a spiffy little pattern — and it carries with it the cachet of tradition.
Greenwell’s Glory Winged Wet
Hook: Wet fly size 12-16 (this is a TMC 3769 size 12)
Body: Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, primrose yellow, darkened with cobbler’s wax
Rib: Fine gold wire
Hackle: Furnace hen
Wing: Starling primary
A short tour through the art form that features classic wingless wet fly patterns developed by James Leisenring and others. This clip will be part of my revamped “Wet Flies 101” presentation.
The sulphur hatch seems a long way off on this frigid January day. Still, an angler can dream…
This video includes traditional North Country spiders and a couple soft hackles of my own design. It’s going to be part of my upgraded presentation, “Wet Flies 101.”
Some subsurface bugs for next month. The four with the wood duck wing are classic Dark Hendrickson wets. Clockwise, we have pairs of tungsten beadheads on a scud hook with the traditional tail, hackle, and body; black bead with Delaware River Club Spectrumized Hendrickson dubbing and a brown partridge hackle; and black bead with the traditional muskrat body and brown partridge hackle. I’ll fish the winged wets as the middle dropper and the beadheads on point. I can almost feel the frantic tugging right now.
If you want to learn how to tie and fish wet flies, soft hackles, and fuzzy nymphs for trout, you can start by reading The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles by Sylvester Nemes and Wet Flies: Tying and Fishing Soft-Hackles, Winged and Wingless Wets, and Fuzzy Nymphs by Dave Hughes. That’s what I did a long time ago, and I’m a better angler for it.
Too many fly fishing how-to books read like the dictionary — or worse, a quantum physics monograph. Not the case here. Both Hughes and Nemes write with a conversational style, perfectly weaving anecdotes with critical know-how.
The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles is a combination of two of Nemes’ earlier works. It’s a pattern book for sure, but there’s also plenty of relevant storytelling. It’s loaded with peals of wisdom (“If you have never tied flies before, I urge you to start immediately. The practice is exhilarating.”) and hidden gems like using North Country spiders for steelhead. The purchase price alone is worth being able to tell someone that you’re catching all those trout on a size 20 Smut No. 1.
Hughes’ Wet Flies is likewise a pattern book, with multiple step-by-step photos and clear instructions. But it also covers history, wet fly types, and how to fish them. It’s a user-friendly read that exudes confidence in the patterns and the methods. My only complaint is that it’s a more western US-centric view of the subject. But wherever you live, you’ll find Wet Flies relevant (“Trout aren’t interested in neatness”). Note that there is now a second edition of Wet Flies, with new photos and patterns. I haven’t read it; I trust that it’s pretty darned good, too.