Pink Lady Fan Wing Dry Fly

Considering my fly tying and fly fishing roots, in that I was exposed to Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman at age 12, and also How To Tie Flies, 1940, by E. C. Gregg; these two books had a profound influence on my early interest and education in tying flies. Other than seeing my dad tie three flies, I never saw anyone else tie a fly for ten years, except my brother, Larry, since we shared dad’s tying tools and materials until he went away to college in 1972. Primarily because of those two books you could say I am a classically-trained fly tier. Similar to a musician who was classically-trained, but I have stayed closer to my traditional roots than a classically-trained musician who becomes a performer of rock or jazz. My traditional fly tying roots include stories of how the Fan Wing Royal Coachman was a favorite dry fly pattern of my father, Donald R. Bastian.

Ray Bergman wrote about the Fan Wing Royal Coachman in his books, but it was not until later in my tying career that I obtained a copy of Ray’s first book, Just Fishing, 1932. Bergman’s account in Just Fishing describes his initial revulsion at the mere appearance of the Fan Wing Royal Coachman, and then continues in the text of that book as to how and why the pattern quickly became one of his favorite dry fly patterns.

From the single color plate of dry flies in Just Fishing, painted by artist Dr. Edgar Burke, there is a Fan Wing Pink Lady. I always thought that was a beautiful fly. Over a decade ago, bowing to my classically-trained fly tying roots, I put together a boxed selection of five different Fan Wing dry fly patterns, containing, of course the Royal Coachman, plus a Light Cahill, March Brown, Green Drake, and the Pink Lady. Last season during the shows I sold the last boxed set I had, but I have had a few dozen fan wing flies completed, ready to make up a few more sets, save for tying a couple more of the patterns to complete the selections.

The Pink Lady became a well-known dry fly pattern, thanks to George M. L. LaBranche, who in 1914, authored The Dry Fly and Fast Water. LaBranche is credited for originating the Pink Lady. In the 1920’s when Fan Wing patterns became popular, it was only natural that someone would take the Pink Lady and convert it to a Fan Wing pattern.

Here is a Fan Wing Pink Lady that I tied a couple years ago:

Fan Wing Pink Lady - the hook is a size #10 standard fine wire dry fly hook.

Fan Wing Pink Lady – the hook is a size #10 standard fine wire dry fly hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Fan Wing Pink Lady

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, size #8 to #12

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #2 Cream

Wings: White duck breast feathers, see footnote below *

Tag: Narrow flat gold tinsel

Tail: Golden pheasant tippet

Ribbing: Narrow flat gold tinsel

Body: Pink floss, pale in color

Hackle: Light ginger

Head: Cream

* Male wood duck breast feathers can be used for the white wings, though during the Golden Age of Fan Wing Drys in the 1920’s and ’30’s, wood ducks were under the protection of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Nearly driven to the brink of extinction by loss of habitat due to intense logging and unrestricted market hunting, the extirpation of the wood duck was a definite possibility, considering the fate of the passenger pigeon. Mandarin duck feathers were used, as were also the breast feathers from small breeds of white domestic ducks. Wood ducks were fully protected starting in 1918, but some states allowed limited hunting of wood ducks to resume in the late 1940’s. ‘Woodies’ were not hunted again nationwide until 1959. Thankfully wood duck populations are presently healthy, the result of intensive duck box nesting programs and sensible hunting practices.

I apologize that I do not have a front view of the fan wings, but you can check my recent post on the Fan Wing Royal Coachman. The wings look the same. Wing sizing should be equal to the length of the entire hook. A heavier tippet, 4x, is best when fishing fan wing drys, and minimizing your false casting also works to your advantage.

I listed the wings as the first ingredient, because when tying these flies, it is advisable to mount the wings first. I believe there is feather mounting information in my Fan Wing Green Drake post. Don’t forget you can use the search key tab at the to right of my home page; just type in a topic you are looking for, and hit ‘enter.’

The Fan Wing Pink Lady is a classic dry fly pattern.

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13 comments on “Pink Lady Fan Wing Dry Fly

  1. Kelly L says:

    Donnie, I loved the fly, and the blog. I don’t recall seeing this pattern before. With my memory though, I could of forgotten. This is a great looking fly. Thanks for sharing all the info you do with us. I have always enjoyed reading what you have to say. I am going to have to look at that wing on the other pattern. It looks like it was cut at the top. (like a F-Fly)

    • Kelly L says:

      Well it wasn’t cut off I guess…lol. Are they pointed inwards then? The other fanwing you have shows the curve outward.

      • Don Bastian says:

        Hey Kelly;
        No the wings are not pointed inward, they flare out in typical “fan wing” fashion. Like I said, I took the photos over two years ago, and didn’t think to take front shots that would show the flare of the wings. At the time the side-profile view of the flies filled the need I was looking for. Thanks for your comments!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Kelly;
      Glad you like the fly! Thanks for your comments! The Pink Lady is also a standard dry fly with slate mallard wings, the fan wing pattern had the white wings. the wings are not cut, that is the natural shape of the feathers.
      Thanks again!

  2. Kelly L says:

    Well, I really like it. I think I even have all the materials. (or close enough) I am going to try this in the future. Good stuff Don.

  3. flydressersguild says:

    Hi Don
    I have just read this issue of Fly Tyer where Sharon E Wright ties the Pink Lady!
    Her SBS and your post have come just in time for me to study the techniques for tying tidy Fan Wings :), i’m just starting to get to grips with the QOTW Fan Wing and those pesky mallard feathers have a habit of getting in the way! 😉

  4. Don Bastian says:

    Hi Darrell;
    I actually taught Sharon how to tie fan wing drys, back during a once-upon-a-time friendship that no longer exists. Whatever…

    I have a Queen of the Waters Fan Wing tied up, did several actually; tying an order of eight dozen fan wing drys for a customer two years ago. The Queen of the Waters fan wing was illustrated in an old catalog, Weber perhaps, or Wm. Mills & Sons. I have more than forty additional patterns like the Pink Lady, all fan wings, photographed but had not posted any of them until I did this Pink Lady. Thanks for your comment, glad you’re getting on with fan wings!

    • flydressersguild says:

      Don
      I’ll photograph my meagre attempt and let you comment on it, I’m having to tie in my office and it’s not the most comfortable place I can think of tying in!

  5. Don Bastian says:

    Hi Darrell;
    Tying in your office is still better than not tying at all! 😉 Keep at it!

  6. Paul Brew says:

    Back in the eighties there was a guy who used to take his camper and tie flies by the stream. A buck for the fly and you got a cup of coffee while you waited. My brother in law Rob introduced me when I went fly fishing for the first few times in PA’s little grand canyon area. (lots of snakes, easily spooked fish) The fly I got resembled this one quiet a bit but didn’t have the ribbing and the tail was same as the hackles. A good memory.

    • Don Bastian says:

      That’s a neat story Paul! Thanks for sharing it! There are still rattlesnakes in that area.

      • Paul Brew says:

        I don’t even remember where it was. LOL I slept the whole way there and the whole way back. All I remember was Rob called it the Little Grand Canyon and that walking over the rocks was scary.

        Do you have any clue as to who the guy was in the camper? Coffee was good and he was memorable.

  7. Don Bastian says:

    Hi Paul;

    Sorry I have no clue as to who that might have been. I never started fishing up there until I was about 22 years old. Still a great memory…maybe Tom Finkbeiner at the Slate Run Tackle Shop might remember. He and his wife have owned the shop for close to 30 years. Thanks for your comment!

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