A Simple Dry Fly Float Test – Part II

You know you gotta dream up stuff after a long winter and no time to wet a line….

So early this morning I took 3 extended-body Comparaduns that I had tied and are all the same size and tied with the same materials. I sprayed one thoroughly with Scotchgard Fabric Protector, I coated one with Loon’s Aquel and the third with Water Shed. (Sorry, I don’t have my Frog’s Fanny powder here.)

Then over lunch break today (about 5 hours later) I filled a plastic container full of water and set all three flies in the water filled container. They all floated great much better than they did without any floatant during yesterday’s test. See: A Simple Dry Fly Float Test for the Part I of this crazy idea.

dry flies treated with floatant1

The 2 extended-body comparaduns with Aquel and Scotchgard never sank for over 5 minutes when I finally pulled them out of the water. The fly with Water Shed finally started to sink around 5 minutes just sitting in the container of water. I also had my Hex Wulff dry fly pattern covered with Loon’s Aquel and tried it in the water for over 3 minutes. It floated extremely well, much better than without any floatant.

Comparadun dry flies treated with floatant

Note: I do notice Loon’s Aquel darkens the fly body much more than either the Scotchgard or Water Shed.

I decided to dunk my waterproof Sony Cybershot camera in the water and take a couple of photos from underneath in the water. Man, these sure don’t look anything like mayflies to me! :-) But I am glad the trout approve!

Hex Wulff pattern from underwater

extended body comparaduns from underneath

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A Simple Dry Fly Float Test

Since it was finally nice outside, warm and sunny, I decided over lunch to try a simple dry fly pattern float test that I have been thinking about for a while. So I filled an 18″ long by 12″ high by 12″ deep plastic container about 3/4 full of water and set it outside in the yard. There was a slight breeze which was perfect for my dry fly pattern float test.

I took 4 larger patterns, one Hex emerger and 3 different Hex dry fly patterns and set them lightly on the water in the container. I wanted to see how fast the various patterns would begin to sink as the blow around in the container. I did not use any floatant on the four fly patterns. See the fly patterns below …

Hex patterns
Within about 1 minute the back-end of the extended-body Compara-dun began to sink. The wing never sank, just the abdomen and tail. The back section of the Hex emerger began to sink few seconds later but the hackle and wing stayed a float. Then slowly the tail and back section of the Wulff design began to sink but again the hackle and wing stayed afloat. The extended-body parachute design never sank, the fly just kept blowing around on the surface.

I really would have thought the entire Wulff pattern would have stayed afloat longer than it did. Obviously, with the bigger, heavier dry fly hook made it more difficult for the tail to hold the back portion afloat.

Eventually, I will do some more designing and testing, but this simple float test seems to prove that to a parachute style dry fly design will float longer and higher than a conventional hackle dry fly design, or even the Compara-dun design in larger patterns. With the hackle on a parachute going in a complete 360 degree direction the barbs really help the fly both balance and float. Whereas the other patterns all the hackle, or deer hair wing, are up front which only helps the front portion of the fly patterns stay afloat. This makes me think my large extended-body  Compara-dun patterns probably look more like an emerger to the trout than a dry fly, which may explain why it is so effective for me over the years.

Note: Three of the patterns were tied on a Mustad #94831 size #8. The Extended-body parachute was tied on a Mustad 94831 size #10 hook.

See: A Simple Dry Fly Float Test – Part II

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Big Juicy Wulff Dry Flies

When Lee Wulff was creating his Wulff dry fly patternback around 1929  he said something about he did because he wanted to get the big big trout’s attention and felt he needed a big, enticing dry fly pattern, not some skimpy sparse looking dry fly. He was referring to times when nothing was hatching and using dry flies as a search pattern. Well, I totally agree with him, especially for the northern Wisconsin freestone trout streams, it does get the fishes attention!

Once you get use to tying split wings they are not tough to tie and you can whip them up pretty fast. The flies float really well on all types of water and I especially like to use them in low light conditions when it is difficult to spot your fly on the water. They can definitely can get the big boys to look up.

Wulff dry flies

For my Wulff patterns I prefer lighter colored bodies with white calf tail wings and either woodchuck guard hairs or bucktail hair for the tails. For really small patterns I will sometimes use calf body hair instead of calf tail for the wings. The Wulff dry fly pattern below was tied with woodchuck guard hairs for the tail. The hackle is Whiting Farms, 3 brown/grizzly euro hackles from capes i received from Jim Slattery’s  Campfire Lodge in West Yellowstone.

Brown Wulff

And of course, you have to carry some Hair wing Royal Coachman dry flies. :-)

Hairwing Royal Coachman Dry Flies

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Brule River Burnt Wulff with Damian Wilmot

I love tying the Wulff patterns for the northern freestone trout streams because they work so well when the trout are looking up in the warm summer evenings.  I also love to see Wisconsin fly patterns!!

Damian Wilmot, the owner of Fly By Night Guide Service shows us how to tie the Brule River Burnt Wulff pattern in this video. A great brook trout pattern for the Bois Brule River.

I just received a couple of large-sized Whiting rooster capes from Jim at Campfire Lodge of West Yellowstone and tied up a few Wulff dry flies using some of the new rooster grizzly and coachman brown hackles I received. These are in size #10 & #12 with a dingy olive-grey dubbing for the body and calf tail wings.

wulff dry fly pattern

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How to tie a Bivisible

The Bivisible is an old classic dry fly pattern that can be extremely effective trout pattern but is often forgotten about fly fishermen. Even I forgot about them until recently when someone on a fly fishing forum brought it up. What I have always liked about the bivisible is it lands softly on the water and has a great silhouette for the fish to see from underneath the water during daylight. The white hackle in the front of the fly helps us spot our fly more easily on the water.

Although I often see the instructions for tying the bivisible fly pattern by winding the brown hackle from the bend of the hook forward the original pattern really was tied front to back with two brown feathers and then the thread wound forward to secure the feather. The tail was actually the tips of the brown feather which is not easy to do. This is a slow tedious process and takes a lot of practice and patients, which I lack. This also won’t work if you are using those really long Whiting saddle hackles.

For tying the bivisible, especially in smaller sizes, I have found I prefer using the long. sleek Whiting saddle hackles. Whiting saddle hackles have great barb density and stiffness making them perfect for dry flies. I recently received some beautiful Whiting dark brown saddle hackles form Feather Emporium. These long sleek feathers range from 9″ to 13″ long and are excellent for tying dry flies (very little webbiness).

I like to tie in the long sleek Whiting dark brown saddle feather about 1/4 the distance between the eye of the hook and the bend of the hook, leaving room for the white hackle and whip finish. I hang the long feather pointing over the hook eye and secure the stem towards the bend of the hook. Then I wrap the dark brown saddle hackle from the front all the way back to the hook bend and then wrap the feather all the way forward again to where I ended the thread. I then tie off the brown hackle, add the white hackle and whip finish. The hackle barbs sit perfectly and are not pointing forward. It works great and makes a very full hackle body that looks awesome and is faster to tie! It makes a great looking bivisible!! Of course, I am prejudice about the flies I tie. :-)  The trout will be the real judge. The two bivisible flies below were tied on a size #16 dry fly hook and a Whiting Coachman Brown saddle feather. I got 3 flies tied from this approximate 9″ saddle feather..

bivisible fly pattern

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