Wingless Wet Fly Video Sampler

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.

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The sulphur hatch seems a long way off on this frigid January day. Still, an angler can dream…

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Pennsylvania, meet Pulaski (by way of Yorkshire)

It’s cold in Pulaski, but even on the most miserable days there seems to be a midge hatch. I’ve decided that small flies in natural colors are underutilized on the Salmon River. And so, buoyed by last week’s success with the Snipe and Purple, I took to the tying bench.

Here are four classic soft hackles adapted for steelhead: Pheasant Tail, Leisenring’s Black Gnat, Starling and Herl, and a midge-like rendering of Leisenring’s Iron Blue Nymph. Three of them use the Orvis 1641, a 1x short, 2x strong wet fly hook. They’re a size 12, so they’ll effectively fish as a 14. The other hook is a size 12 Daiichi 1120, likewise 1x short/2x strong. Some of the original patterns called for tinsel; I substituted small diameter wire.

Now all we need is a hatch and some feeders.

Steelhead soft hackles, clockwise from upper left: Pheasant Tail, Black Gnat, Starling and Herl, Iron Blue Midge. 

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Pheasant Tail
Hook: Daiichi 1120 size 12
Thread: Brown 8/0
Tail/Abdomen: Pheasant tail fibers
Rib: Small copper wire
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Brown hen
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Black Gnat
Hook: Orvis 1641 size 12
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, claret
Body: 3 fibers from a jackdaw secondary wing
Rib: Small red wire
Hackle: Iridescent purple from a starling shoulder
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Starling and Herl
Hook: Orvis 1641 size 12
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, claret
Body: Peacock herl
Rib: Small gold wire
Hackle: Starling
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Iron Blue Midge
Hook: Orvis 1641 size 12
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, claret
Body: Mole fur spun on silk
Rib: Small silver wire
Hackle: Light blue dun hen

James Leisenring’s favorite wet flies

I’m embarrassed to say that it took me 55 years to buy a copy of the American fly fishing classic The Art of Tying the Wet Fly.

But now, I have it. This week I tied up James Leisenring’s favorite dozen wet fly dressings for a client. Here are three of them, lovingly rendered against the yellowed pages of an old book many anglers have never read — but should.

Like so many effective patterns, these flies wouldn’t get a second look in a fly shop’s bins. There are no hot spots, bead heads, or new-fangled UV resins. But Leisenring — and his contemporaries — knew the power of natural materials and simplicity. I’m thinking the Old Blue Dun is going to get into my three-fly team Hendrickson rotation this spring.

Leisenring Wets