Some flytyers will tell you they never tie on wings, because in their favorite fishing spot the fish seem to prefer wingless flies - and anyway, the wings would only become damaged with use. Both of these points may be true, but often that is not the whole story. Winging, as I know from personal experience, can be difficult to learn from books, especially the technique of forming split wings. Some flytyers never make it!
As I wrote in the introduction to Chapter 3: "Once you have learned how to tie on a tail, you can use the same technique for tying on any materials that are to be tied on top of the hook: all types of wings, toppings, detached bodies, and so on." That same tails technique is referred to throughout this chapter. The only wing style that does not use it is the "No Hackle" wing technique (originated by Doug Swisher and Carl Richards), which is unorthodox but excellent.
As in the last chapter, the techniques described in the following pages are divided into those for dry flies and those for wet flies. The dry-fly wing techniques shown are mostly for upright wings - made from feather fibers, hackle points, breast feathers, and hair. The dry-fly wings section also describes how to tie single and double split wings, and spent wings. These last, though normally considered as "dry," might be better described as "drowned". Spent wings are tied to represent natural flies that come to grief on the water, either through accident (being blown there) or design (female flies of some species die after depositing their eggs on the surface). Spent wings can be made from feather fibers, hair or hackle points (from which four-winged flies can be tied). The technique is the same for all, though spent hairwings require more, and firmer, turns of thread to split the wings.
In all the dry-fly wing techniques described here (with the exception of sedge wings and No-Hackle wings) always tie on the wings first, then form the body. An alternative to tying wings on dry-fly patterns is simply to wind on another dry-fly hackle (of a similar color to the replaced feather wing) in front of, or behind, the main hackle. Though less realistic, this method has the advantages of improved floating qualities and extra visibility.
The chapter also includes techniques for tying the following styles of wet-fly wings: saddle hackle wings, matched wings, whole feather wings, peacock, marabou, and hairwings; together with techniques for wing cases, which I hope will be especially valuable because of the lack of information on this subject in most other books.
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