Wing or no wing

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Soft-hackle
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Wing or no wing

Post by Soft-hackle » Sun May 02, 2010 9:17 am

How many feel that adding wings to a fly changes the intention & usage. Does it add or subtract to the fly's effectiveness? Does removing a wing from a standard winged pattern make it more effective?

You see, my belief is winged flies, because of the wing, imitate adult flies. These would be used to represent stages like egg laying adults, or flies which fully emerge prior to reaching the surface. They are specific.

Wingless wets, on the other hand, are non-specific, representing many stages: nymph, emerging fly, adult.

Comments, replies---.

Mark
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by redietz » Sun May 02, 2010 9:39 am

Soft-hackle wrote:How many feel that adding wings to a fly changes the intention & usage. Does it add or subtract to the fly's effectiveness? Does removing a wing from a standard winged pattern make it more effective?

You see, my belief is winged flies, because of the wing, imitate adult flies. These would be used to represent stages like egg laying adults, or flies which fully emerge prior to reaching the surface. They are specific.

Wingless wets, on the other hand, are non-specific, representing many stages: nymph, emerging fly, adult.

Comments, replies---.

Mark
I agree that it changes its intention, usage and effectiveness.

I'll often fish a winged wet dry, as a cripple or spent spinner. I'm more likely to fish a winged wet downstream, on a swing. I'm more likely to use a winged wet as a top dropper than I am as a point fly.

I don't agree that the winged versions are always specifically adult insects. In some case, I don't believe they represent insects at all. I'd have a hard time imaging what insect a #6 Parmachenee Belle would represent, but it is vaguely baitfish like, and does catch fish on occasion.

In other cases, I don't think the "wing" is necessarily a wing. I don't think of flies like a Hendrickson wet as being adults at all, but rather as nymphs swimming to the top. I know by experience that they work better before a hatch of Hendricksons than after. OTOH, the also work well as adult little brown stones. They may be specific at any given time I'm using, but not necessarily specific to the same thing each time. The same is true of several herl bodied wingless wets that I fish regularly. I usually fish a grouse & herl in very specific circumstances to represent some specific, but that something may be different from use to use (in this case, adult little brown stone, emerging caddis, and isonychia nymphs.)

Sometimes, the winged wet is my indicator fly. If I'm sight fishing upstream, it's easier to follow my team when the fly nearest the top is winged with a light colored wing. I also think it functions as an attractor in the same circumstance -- not something that looks like anything in particular to fish, just something to grab it attention so that it sees the more realistic soft hackle that's following it.
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by letumgo » Sun May 02, 2010 9:43 am

In the spirit of healthy discussion, I agree, the wing implies the fly imitates an adult insect (at least in the eyes of the tyers). I am not sure, in the eye of the fish, the wing adds or subtracts from the fly's effectiveness. I think the answer depends a lot on the manner the fly is fished. I think a winged fly can be fished in exactly the same manner as a soft hackle/flymph/wingless wet and would likely give similar results. I think it depending a lot on ones confidence in the fly and the method being fished. I like the idea of the henwing style flies. They can be fished untreated (allowing the fly to sink and drift freely) or by applying a little floatant to only the wing of the fly (suspending the fly in the surface film to imitate a struggling emerger).

I am interested in hearing what other think...
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by Silver Doctor » Sun May 02, 2010 6:38 pm

There are times that I fish only winged wets. I've had browns key in on them. I am also of the belief that it imitates the adult version. One thing that I have noticed, I will normally catch larger browns on winged wets, but perhaps that's a Canadian thing.
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by redietz » Mon May 03, 2010 12:43 am

Let me pose a question to those that believe a winged wet always represents an adult insect.

This is leading somewhere, so that even if it seems way off topic; I'll bring it back after I hear some responses.

What do you think a Prince nymph represents?
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by tie2fish » Mon May 03, 2010 8:44 am

Bob - I saw it speculated someplace that a Prince nymph is supposed to look like an isonychia bicolor (slate drake) nymph, but then why two white stripes?
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by Soft-hackle » Mon May 03, 2010 9:16 am

Bob,
Let's get really technical, here. In all honesty, no fishing fly we fashion replicates anything in reality. Some of the realistic tiers come pretty close to getting something that looks like the real thing, however our flies are only suggestive of what's out there.

With that said, the winged wet, for the most part, when conceived, was most likely fashioned to represent an adult insect. What happened after that is what often happens in this area of fly tying; the original concept gets altered to fit the needs of the fisherman. This is, perhaps a mistake, but it happens. In addition, when I posed the question, I was speaking, specifically, of stages of the insect cycle, not the fly in general. In general, technically, any fly could potentially represent food of various sorts. That is up to the fish to decide.

Mark
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by Old Hat » Mon May 03, 2010 11:38 am

Interesting topic.
Mark, I agree, the original intent of the wing was to mimic the adult insect wings. So, if we compare the intent and usage of a wingless wet fly today to the intent and usage of a winged fly of that era, the intent and usage is not congruent. However, taking into account the knowledge of different emerging characteristics of insects today and with the different winged styles we see today from winged wets to dry flies the intent may or may not be similar. I think most would agree that today we look at the wingless wet as a emerger in some form or another, especially the true flymphs employed by Leisenring and Hidy and most often their usage is in accordance with that stage. We know though that there are some insects that emerge subsurface with wings partially or fully developed (caddis). I have quite few wet patterns for caddis that I use that are winged. The wings on an emerging caddis are prominent and I don't think should be ignored in an emerger pattern that aims to capture the profile of such. So here I have a winged pattern which the intent nor the usage is different than that of many of my favorite wingless patterns and which I believe for particular insects adds to the flies effectiveness. Of course, then the discussion would be, is this insect, swimming to the surface and although nearly fully developed still considered and emerger or adult as you allude to. But, I still believe that the intent and usage of winged flies of past eras, was not to mimic emergers but adults. I also cannot argue that the wingless are more general and have the ability to represent a multitude of stages and insect types. This can be extremely beneficial in catching more fish as you are representing a larger food pool. The winged wet is more specific and may out fish the wingless under certain hatches and times. We have a large hatch of October Caddis here in the fall months. These are big caddis. They are generally represented on a size #8 long shank hook. As a wet fly fisher, it was a challenge to consistently catch fish during this hatch with a general wingless wet fly. Part of it I think is the fish just get a better look with such a large insect. Not until (a couple years later) I started to represent the emerging wings did I feel I was catching fish consistently. Now, over the years, having read some books on fly design and what some believe actually trigger fish to take a fly, I realize that it is possible to give the illusion of emerging wings within the fly without actually tying "wings" on the fly. Mostly with different textures and colors incorporated in the the fly design.

So, I think, in answer to your question, as we see most often in this sport is it really depends on specific conditions. Historically the intent and usage between a winged and wingless was not congruent. A wing is a more specific attribute. There are times when narrowing the representation with a wing can increase the effectiveness of a fly pattern, but in general, I believe wingless is more effective over the range of representation.

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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by Soft-hackle » Mon May 03, 2010 1:58 pm

Great answers, so far.
Carl,
We have a good October Caddis hatch, here, as well.

I find that very often, here, a wingless pattern during the smaller sized caddis hatch works wonderfully well tied in the correct size. A fly like Hare's Ear Spider (Leisenring Spider) does very well for sure. Now, I can not argue about the success of winged patterns under certain circumstances, but Leisenring's intention, I believe, and like the intention of other soft-hackles, was that the hackle represent both wings and legs of the insect.

I only hope that we start thinking of using the wingless flies for other than emerging flies. While they work exceedingly well for this, I've often fished them as I would a nymph or in or at the surface film. I suppose you could consider the later an emerging fly as well, but to me, at this point, it could also represent an adult fly. I've also tried them as spinners, with medium success.

Mark
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Re: Wing or no wing

Post by Old Hat » Mon May 03, 2010 9:12 pm

Labeling of course would depend on opinion. Nymph, emerger, dry (types of flies connected to the method of presentation to me) regardless of stage of insect. So I would see the adult in the surface film as an emerger pattern but but could really be a natural cripple, spinner, diver etc... I do agree though a wingless wet could pass for all of these phases. So, I guess where I'm coming from is that means the intention of the fly is to represent an adult in a circumstance where it's usage is as an emerger. I believe both hackles and color schemes can represent wings as well as legs. Atherton, touched upon this in his ideas of triggers through color and profile. You don't need a turkey quill shellback to represent the wingcase, a darker hue in the thorax compared to the abdomen can work just as well and as Atherton and yourself alluded may be better as it is more of a generalization. This, I think, is part of what Hidy was after with his thoughts on mimicry. Of course though, the Leisenring Lift is all about the act of emerging.
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