Fanwing Coffin Fly

A while back I posted a Green Drake Coffin Fly pattern that I developed with the white foam extended body. It was patterned after the Dette Coffin Fly, which has a white body, short-clipped palmered white hackle, teal breast feathers for wings, and a silver badger hackle. A few weeks ago I also had the inspiration to tie that same fly, but instead add the curved, short teal center breast feathers to create a classic, fanwing pattern. I recall that idea came to me by simply noticing a single teal “fanwing” breast feather lying among my fly tying stuff, and as I picked it up and looked at it in my hand, I decided to make my extended body Coffin Fly pattern into a fanwing version. I know, it’s way past green drake time and that won’t come again for another ten-and-a-half months, but I just today added this pattern to MyFlies.com along with my BXB Green Drake Coffin Fly, and I also will be adding the classic Fanwing Royal Coachman as one of my patterns there before too much longer. I seem to be in a mood to tie and call attention to fanwing patterns, and I and some of my customers have had some great fishing this year on my extended body March Brown, Slate Drake, Green Drake, and Yellow Drake patterns in a number of locales in several states, so here is the Green Drake Fanwing Coffin Fly:

Fanwing Coffin Fly

Fanwing Coffin Fly – the imago, or spinner pattern for the eastern green drake, Ephemera guttulata. The hook is a Tiemco 2488 #10. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Fanwing Coffin Fly

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #4 Pale Yellow

Body: White closed-cell foam, cut into strip about 2mm wide from 2mm sheet

Tails: Three moose body hairs

The Abdomen with tails is made on a mandrel held in the vise; I upgraded to a tube fly jig for this procedure several months ago, but I used to use a simple straight pin or needle. Once the abdomen is made, and I generally make these by the half-dozen at least, usually more, that is attached to the rear of the TMC 2488 hook, just ahead of the barb. But first:

Before mounting the abdomen to the hook, switch tying thread to Danville Flymaster #100 Black, then mount the wings on the hook, just ahead of the mid point of the body. It takes practice to get the wings straight, and they seldom tie on straight, but I discovered a method long ago of using the thread to my advantage. I care not for how they set on the hook; I just want to get them on there, both at once. Once they are mounted, stand them up by damming thread in front of the stem butts, and when they are about vertical, if one or both wings are curved at all to the left or right – which they most likely will be – you start with one feather, post the thread three times taut, but not tight, around the base of that feather. You have to think which way to wrap, because you’re going to use increased thread tension to twist the crooked wing into perfect alignment. This means you have to think and analyze which way you need to spin the feather to straighten it. After posting around the base of the wing, then wrap around the hook shank once, making sure you’re back to clockwise winding, and then pull slowly. The taut, but not previously tight thread will tighten and s-t-r-e-t-c-h around the base of the feather stem, and from this action, the wing feather will twist right or left as needed (and premeditated by the tier, um, that would be you) into the proper position. Repeat this for the other wing, if necessary.

If either wing needs to be turned or twisted to the left, then you post around the base of that stem counterclockwise. If either stem needs to be turned to the right, then you post clockwise. Don’t forget to wrap once or twice around the hook shank before to attempt to tighten the thread to straighten out the wing. It’s a snap. Guess I’ll have to make another video…

After doing this to both wing feathers, if necessary, I then post around the base of both stems together. Doing this means you also have to mount the feathers to the hook with some bare stem on both feathers above the hook and tie-in point. This prevents you from wrapping over any barbs at the base of the wing stems, which if you did, there would be barbs askew at the base of the wings. Not pretty.

Wings: A matched pair of curved teal breast feathers

Body: Black rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Silver badger

Head: Black

This pattern and most fanwings of any size, should be fished on 4x tippet to minimize twisting.

Here’s a front-view of the wings:

Fanwing Coffin Fly -

Fanwing Coffin Fly – front view of divided, over-sized wings, characteristic of fanwing patterns.

Here is a link to the product page for my BXB Fanwing Coffin Fly and this new, Fanwing Coffin Fly on MyFlies.com: http://www.myflies.com/BXB-Green-Drake-Coffin-Fly–P806.aspx

I’m sure some of you will want to see that fanwing tie-in procedure, so I will attempt to make another video, but I’ll also be happy to demonstrate it at any of the shows where I’m appearing. Thanks for reading!

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6 comments on “Fanwing Coffin Fly

  1. Kelly L says:

    Cool fly Donnie!

  2. Paul B says:

    Great pattern Don! Nice work on this!

  3. Bill says:

    Donnie ~ Do you have personal experience with casting these fanwing patterns? As beautiful as this is, it looks as though it might cause tippet twist. Just curious …

  4. Don Bastian says:

    Hi Bill;
    Yes, to answer your question, I do have a lot of experience casting and fishing fanwing dry flies. Though admittedly it’s been more than twenty years at least since I knotted a fanwing dry to my tippet. I fished them a lot when I was in my teens and early to mid-20’s. As noted in the text here, a heavier tippet can help to minimize this, as well as not making your tippet excessively long. Also, minimize your false casting.

    I mostly fished a Fanwing Royal Coachman and Fanwing Light Cahill. I caught A LOT of trout on these patterns, makes me want to resurrect tying and fishing them. I know the Fanwing Royal Coachman is one of Joe Humphreys favorite classic dry patterns.
    Thanks for your comment!

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