The Dark Hendrickson Winged Wet

We had spent the morning nymphing, but as the hour hand worked its way toward eleven, the bite slowed. One o’clock would be the visible start of the Hendrickson hatch — you can set your watch by it on the Farmington — but I figured right now was about time for creatures to be stirring a foot below the surface.

I rigged up a team of three wets, with a Dark Hendrickson on point, and began walking down a long, three-foot deep run. When I got to the tailout, I encountered an angler reclining on rock, enjoying the warmth of the late April sun. I hailed him and asked how his fishing had been. He told me he hadn’t yet wet his line. “Waiting for the Hendrickson hatch to start,” he explained.

Oh, it’s already started, I told him. “I don’t see anything coming off,” he said. I shook my head. You can’t see it yet. It’s going on below, and it’s going to be a good one. See my friends up there? I’ve been catching them all the way down the run, just swinging wets. They’ve been keyed on this fly here.

The Dark Hendrickson Winged Wet is a legacy American pattern that has been fooling trout for over a century. I’ve been fishing it only a fraction of that time, yet I couldn’t possibly tell you how many trout I’ve taken on it. This fly would easily make my Top Ten Wets list. Match the size of the naturals (about a 12 on the Farmington), then drift, swing, or dangle it over rising fish, and hold on.

The Dark Hendrickson Winged Wet

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Hook: 2x strong wet fly
Thread: Grey
Tail: Dark blue dun hackle fibers
Body: Muskrat fur
Hackle: Dark blue dun hen
Wing: Lemon wood duck

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Tying notes: I like to use darker muskrat fur, particularly the soft grey underfur. Pick out and discard the black, stiffer guard hairs when you snip off a patch. A little fur goes a long way, and if you happen to have an entire skin, you’ve got enough fur to keep your great-great grandchildren in Hendricksons. Keep the body thin; the hero of this fly is wing. Be sure to leave plenty of room for the head and the wing; you can see on this fly that I just about made it. (Although the trout won’t care a lick.) To form the wing, I usually fold a small section of wood duck over itself with the dull side facing in, but I don’t get too crazy about trying to make every fly perfect. Make the wing about as long as the bend. If you don’t tie this fly, please start. You’re going to be happy you did.

Looks like the Hendrickson hatch has started.

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The Dark Hendrickson Rogues’ Gallery

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