Wet Fly Wing Mounting Methods

I have recently received a number of questions on setting wet fly wings and thought this older post was worth reblogging, so here it is. The main point I make is that there are four ways to mount wet fly quill wings.

Don Bastian Wet Flies

Questions about wet fly wings are often raised with particular reference to the appearance of quill wings on the finished fly. Many years ago I learned to tie wet flies using a winging technique which is probably the most traditional method. My earliest wet fly tying followed Ray Bergman’s instruction in his book Trout. In the chapter “On Tying Flies” he presented the following method: “For wet flies, place the two even and concave edges together, with the tips pointing inward and touching each other.” This method faces the top, or dull side of the quill slips together.

Study of historic sources of wet fly dressings indicate that normally the barb sections which form the wings are tied in with the tips pointing up. The line drawings and Dr. Edgar Burke’s accurate color plate wet fly paintings in Trout clearly confirm the tip-up style. When tied in this way the…

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4 comments on “Wet Fly Wing Mounting Methods

  1. Bill says:

    “Refresher courses” like this are always valuable and welcome, DB. Thanks!

  2. mike says:

    Great article. Good information. Just recently started playing around with tying wet flies. When using quill material for wet fly tails ( like the Liberty for example), should the tail be mounted with the same orientation as the wings? Are there pictures available that show the wet fly tail /wing orientation looking at the fly from a directly overhead view?

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Mike;

      Quill tails can be mounted to match or oppose the wing. Personal preference. In the 20th century books, many flies are tied with the “tip up” as in Bergman’s Trout and Helen Shaw’s book. In Marbury’s 1892 book, the wings were all mounted tip down. There, many tails also matched the wing with a downward curve. And all those flies had single section tails, not matched pair tails as was more common in the 20th century.
      Maybe a few pics are posted here and there on line of the wet fly from above, but I don’t believe I ever did any of those. Thanks for your question and comment!

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