I’m still at the fly tying vise this week as I enjoy watching the snow falling or remaining in our backyard from previous storms rolling through. I’ve been tying Royal Wulff flies while waiting for a hook order to arrive so I can complete my last fly order.
I looked out on the porch yesterday morning and noticed a package. You guessed it…hooks!
The final order was around 1,900 hooks. I’ve been completely out of size 14 Daiichi 1180 hooks. I was thankful to see the four boxes of 100 hooks! I plan to finish my customer’s order this week.
While waiting for my hooks to arrive, I tied the Beetle Bug Coachman for a friend.
The wings are tied with calf tail in the Wulff style. After finishing these flies, I needed another fly to tie. It just so happens my friends Gretchen and Al Beatty were experimenting around with livestreaming while filling their orders. Since I had just finished 1 1/2 dozen flies tied with calf tail wings, I watched to see what technique tips I could learn and apply to my own fly tying.
Al has now placed these tying sessions on his YouTube channel, which is where the links will take you. I don’t expect you to watch both videos as they are just over an hour each. But if you are interested in watching experts tie the Royal Wulff, I highly recommend spending some time with the videos.
They have a unique approach to their fly tying. They tie as a team. Al ties the tail and wing and throws them in a pile for Gretchen. She picks up a fly, places it in the vise and ties the body of peacock and red and winds the hackle to complete the fly.
I decided to give their style of fly tying a try.
I almost always tie a complete fly when I place a hook in the vise. Just tying a partial fly of tail and wing was something new to me.
I pulled out 24 size 12 hooks and began to tie while listening to Gretchen and Al tie their flies.
I use moose fibers for the tails as I like to look of them. Al uses deer hair for their tails.
Tying flies like this allowed me to concentrate on selecting materials, proportions, and technique.
I shared a pile of tails and wings during their last Zoom fly tying. I told them I gave their style of tying a try and finished the tails and wings, placing them in a fly cup and waited for someone else to pick up the fly and complete it.
And I waited…and waited…and waited. They just sat there!
I was waiting for my wife to help complete the order, but she doesn’t tie. Several years ago, I asked her to finish a fly because I had to leave and do something. Upon my return, I noticed what she had done at the vice…
It was her method of “finishing” the fly!
I sat down to finish them myself.
Here is a complete Royal Wulff.
And a box of 24 Royal Wulff flies.
I think they turned out quite well. After tying two dozen, I can pick them apart. But overall, I know they will catch fish.
I used dividers to gauge the wing height. Al uses a hook on a hackle plier to measure his proportions. Watch one of the videos to learn how he measures the wing.
If you’ve watched me tie, I often use open scissor points to gauge the measurement. I open the points matching the hook shank. I can then use it to check tail or wing length. I do it all the time. But I wanted to be quicker and more consistent method. The divider allowed me the extra confidence all the wings would be much more consistent.
The link will take you to Amazon, which is where I purchased them. I had to order them three times before receiving a complete set. The first two arrived with only one of the needles. I returned them, but overall, I like their small size. Plus, they were only $8.
Our techniques were a little different. I tie on the wings first and then the tail, creating a smooth underbody. I return the thread to the wing, standing the calf tail upright with a thread dam. After splitting the wings, I complete with a quick whip finish and throw it in the pile for later.
Al begins with a tail and finishes his portion of the fly by setting the wing. I’ll have to ask him it there is a reason to tie the tail first or if it’s just the method he uses.
I listened to their video and tied my flies, stopping occasionally to watch a specific way they tied in a material. It was quite different than watching a Zoom fly tying session. The repetition reinforced the technique used to tie the material. I found it very useful as I incorporated it into my flies.
I used to dread tying flies with the Wulff style wing because I used too much material and questioned the proportions. After my experience this week, I found enjoyment finishing 24 flies.
I encourage you to try it. You may not need 24 flies, but if you are serious about learning and refining proper techniques and proportions, this method will help. At least it did for me.
Remember my Tying and Fishing Foam Flies post from last week? I highlighted several foam flies I like.
Here is another YouTube video I published a couple of days ago where I demonstrate the Fat Albert.
Lastly, here are the two Zoom fly tying sessions I’m currently participating in. They are free and I encourage you to check them out. If you can’t attend the live session, both are recorded, and you can watch at your convenience.
BT’s Fly Tying Friday – every Friday night at 5 pm PST; 6 pm MST (This code is only good for 12/16 class) You’ll need to get on the email list to obtain a new Zoom link each week. Just send a request to email@example.com and he will add your name.
Meeting ID: 873 9206 5411
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