Monday, March 5, 2012

Buying Classic Wet Flies

I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries lately about whether I sell the classic wet flies. The short answer is yes.

There are two different ‘styles’ of flies – Show Quality or Fishing Quality. Both are tied to high standards, but with a few subtle differences.

First the fishing flies
These are tied on smaller hooks, usually 8 and 10 wet fly hooks, sometimes down to 12 or 14, depending on the fly. For married quill winged flies, 10 is about as small as I’ll go purely from an aesthetics standpoint. On smaller hooks it is much harder to achieve wings that look proportional to the rest of the fly. I believe many anglers prefer their flies to look good, regardless of what the fish think.
Fishing flies have few other differences too. The quill wings will generally be slightly shallower (less quill slips) than show quality flies. The heads of fishing flies are treated with only one, sometimes two, coatings of head cement (I use Sally Hansen Hard As Nails), and details are somewhat less on bodies etc.

Show quality flies are tied on Size 6 mustad S70-3399 wet fly hooks, a standard hook for this application. The details are much more significant on bodies, ribs, hackles and wings etc, though only the most discerning eye will delineate the differences between fishing and show quality flies. Dimensionally, these flies are as perfect as I can achieve in terms of tail length, body smoothness, ribbing, wings, hackles and heads.
The wings will be a little deeper (more quill slips) than fishing flies. Heads are finished with at least 3 coats of head cement, and finally a coat of black lacquer is added to complete the flies.

Generally, show quality flies take on average 40-50 minutes to tie, not including head finishing with 4+ coats of cement and lacquer. More often than not, if the fly is not perfect, I will re-tie it on a new hook. For me, this ensures 100% customer satisfaction, as I believe that if I don’t like the look of a finished fly, it is likely a customer won’t like it either.

Anyone interested in flies, either for show or for fishing can drop me an email

Finally, the flies I’ve been tying this week. All fishing quality. Some imperfections in wings or hackles, but certainly good enough tasty morsels for the trouts to mull over.
Most of these flies will see action this weekend as I’m heading to the Delaware River for some early season action on the NY/PA border waters (open year round).
I’m looking forward to it as I haven’t been fishing in what seems like an eternity – Dec 28 was my last day on the water, with a distinctly foul smell in the air that crisp winter day.

Some Coachmen - size 10, a couple with inverted wings

Governor Alvord 


Royal Coachman

Fern (Bergman)

Fern (Marbury)


Ibis and White




The box

 As always, thanks for looking and if you're out on the water this week, Tightlines!!


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