When it comes to dry fly hackle every fly tier I know wants to know exactly what they are buying. Most of the time you decide to wait to actually see the Whiting cape or saddle before forking over the money. That is because with natural colored rooster capes and saddles the colors can vary so much. You want to see the actual color of the feathers and the hook sizes the cape or saddle feathers will tie.
Unfortunately, fly shops generally just post the colors and when you order over the internet you have no clue what you will actually get. Now, Jim Slattery of Campfire Lodge West Yellowstone is trying to change the way we shop for hackle online. Jim is taking quality photos of every Whiting cape and saddle he has in stock and posting them on his website at Whiting dry fly hackle capes and saddles. If you can’t make it to West Yellowstone to touch and feel the Whiting capes and saddles at least you can actually see a high quality photo of each one. This takes a lot of the guess work out of purchasing a cape or saddle online.
Just click on a Whiting Farms rooster (dry fly ) color you are interested in and you will see all the capes and saddles Campfire Lodge has in stock for immediate shipment. When you click on a thumbnail image a pop up window shows you a large image of each cape or saddle along with a detail description. This takes the guess work out of buying the perfect Whiting cape or saddle you want at a specific price point.
We all know Whiting Farms has great, consistent quality fly tying hackle but colors do vary from cape to cape or saddle to saddle, especially in the natural colors. Being able to select the actual coloration you want means less returns and less frustration for you the buyer. This is especially important when you are looking for a Whiting variant cape or saddle which vary even more.
By selecting the color you want you instantly see every cape and saddle they have in stock and clicking on any of the thumbnails you see the actual item… no more wondering what you are getting!!!
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.
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.
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!
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 …
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.
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.
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.
And of course, you have to carry some Hair wing Royal Coachman dry flies.
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.