The Wonder Wing

Figure 7.2 Bogong Beauty Hackled (A) and spent (B)

In 1934, an American, W.J. Golding developed this ingenious method of making wings from contour feathers. When the wing is tied you can push it into shape, fold it down, lift it up, push it forward or backward and even let a trout or two chomp on it without destroying its shape or attractiveness.

The fly to illustrate this is a modified Gold-ribbed Hares Ear.

The original fly is a dry which has the distinction that it is fished semi-sunken and is thought to represent a nymph hatching into a dun. This fly is so modified that it would possibly be preferable to refer to it as a March Brown. A rose by any other name Place a 12 or a 10 in the vice and wind the silk from the shoulder to the bend where the tail is tied in. These can be a few fibres from the brown partridge feather (brown mallard is often used) or a bunch of red cock hackle.

Tie in a piece of gold lurex at the tail. Now dub the silk with fur from the base of the ears of a hare. Many tiers use any type of hares fur - others even use rabbit. This engenders shudders in the dreams of the fastidious tiers who insist that this fly must be tied with hair from the base of the ear. Actually the ear was about all that remained from the hare skin used to make hats, and was possibly the only part available to the fly tier.

Wind the dubbed silk to lk way from the eye. Wind the bare silk forward a fraction to leave a bed on the hook upon which you can tie the wings.

Take two feathers from the base of the cock cape (red). Large feathers from a young cock form good wonder wings as do mallard flank and breast - these were the original feathers used. Large partridge feathers can be used - the small feathers require some practice.

Each feather must have equal size and textured fibres on each side of the shaft, and the shaft should be fine and soft.

Cut the soft fibres from the base of the feathers and in addition, the formed fibres about V3rd the way up the feather. (7.3, 1)

Bring down about 10-15 fibres on each side of the feather leaving the tip of the feather. (7.3, 2). These fibres are to be fixed down permanently. See Figure 7.3

Wonderwing Fly

Fly tiers lubricant can be used, but this is not too satisfactory. Thinned nail polish could be used. The thinner can be either the purchased nail polish remover or a 50% 50% mixture of acetone and amyl acetate.

A small amount of Silicon-Seal can be placed on the feather fibres and the feather held in the first skin fold of the forefinger until the material hardens a little. We suggest that several pairs should be made at the beginning of a fly tying session.

Pair up two of the feathers for wings, convex sides together. Figure 7.3 No. 4'. Size up the wings along the hook - The wing will consist of the folded down portion, the tip of the feather will be clipped off. Hold in the left hand as shown. Pinch, throw loop and pull down. Throw another and pull tight. Remove the left hand and check the length of the wings. If too short they can be pulled forward or if too long can be eased back by pulling on the waste. Do this very carefully or you will distort the wings. Better to size them properly before tying in. Figure 7.4 It is possibly better to have a wing which is too short than too long Why?

Lift the wing a little and throw a loop in front of it to lift it up. Now two more loops behind it to fix it.

Take the silk around the base of the wings. You may find a dubbing needle will aid you in this. Either with this fly or the next you can experiment in figure-eighting between the wings to spread them, but you can possibly do as well when the fly is finished and the wings separated by brute strength.


Figure 7.4 Fixing Wonder Wings

Lift the base of the feathers which form waste and clip off neatly. You will realise why curved, sharp scissors are an essential part of your gear.

Tie in a cock hackle. This is not in the original dressing, but it is necessary to cover the butts of the wonder wings. Not only will the hackle cover the bases, it will fix them and tip them forward a little. One or two turns of hackle could be taken in front of the wings if so desired.

Some English flies have the complete hackle tied aft of the wings making a beautiful fly with advanced wings and excellent balance.

If you wish to tie the usual Hares Ears and Gold, tie the wings in first, then follow with the body. The dubbing will cover the base of the wings as there is no hackle but the fur is teased out with a dubbing needle. Better still the following method of making the body can be used - we hesitate to term it "dubbing"

Take a 10cm length of tying silk at the bend and tie this in to form a loop.


Figure 7.5 Loop Formation of Fur Body


Figure 7.5 Loop Formation of Fur Body

Place the hackle pliers at the end of this loop. Place the usual mist of fur inside this loop and twist the hackle pliers to entrap the fur. This will make a rope which can be wound as a body and tied in behind the position of the wings. If hare fur is used, the long guard hairs can be folded with the technique used to fold a cock hackle (see the Quill-bodied Cochybond-hu) - fly tiers lube and patient stroking Figure 7.5

The wings can be adjusted as you please. Flatten them and you have a spent wing. If you are still not catching fish, cut the hackle to a bare minimum, tug the wings back and you will have a wet fly of a sort which may prove a stop-gap on the stream.

Using this technique, you have an enormous range of patterns.

Try a March Brown, a must in any fisher's box: Whisks: Mallard or teal fibres. Body: Hares ear or possum, ribbed gold. Wings: Wonder wings from brown partridge. Hackle: One good, small red cock as a floater One brown partridge.

The Coachman and various spinners should come to mind.

Satisfied? You shouldn't be

On the Kiewa a very heavy hatch of dayflies occurs just on dusk. These appear as small aeroplanes with a blur of propellor in front of the body.

These are species of the Atalophlebia which move white tipped caudal filaments so rapidly that the observer is more conscious of the moving dots of white than the rest of the insect.

These create a single-minded rise of great magnitude from the smallest to the largest of the fish whose presence was never suspected by the fly fisher. A peculiar madness overtakes the fish and this is transmitted to the angler who changes flies with trembling fingers and a lexicon of words of strange origin as the light fades flies which can be effective on these occasions - perhaps the Bogong Beauty either hackled or spent a Wulff Royal Coachman with a parachute hackle (See Chapter 9) a dayfly dressed to represent these multitudinous dusk fliers or a Tup's Indispensable.

The author had success with a wonder-wing day-fly when other patterns failed.

This dayfly has a split tail of two bunches of grizzle cock hackle fibres - spin a small amount of bush possum fur as a ball at the bend before you tie in the hackle tail fibres, a tapered body of yellow marabou silk ribbed with brown tying silk, two grizzle feathers made into wonder wings and tied in at 45° slope to the body and grizzle hackle tied in front of the wings. Use fly floatant as the marabou silk has a tendency to soak up water and sink the fly if the hackle is not too buoyant. Figure 7.6

Incidentally if you are bothered by the fading light, fading eyesight and trembling hand when changing flies at dusk, and you do not wish to use a torch, a 40 cent needle threader will work wonders in aiding you thread the monofilament through that ever-diminishing hook-eye which is possibly crammed with tying thread because you have been a little careless in leaving that Va shank length clear for the head.

Now a wet fly. Make the wonder wings curve inwards. The wet wings are face-to-face concave and are tied in after the hackle. See Figure 7.7.

Figure 7.7 Wet Wonder Wings

Now a dry with special hackle: Instead of winding the hackle as usual, wind it around the base of the wings. This is the parachute hackle which has some degree of popularity. It spread-eagles the legs of the fly and could be more life-like in the eyes of the trout. The name given indicates that the inventor thought that the hackle would enable the fly to float down through the air like a parachute.

Figure 7.7 Wet Wonder Wings

In actual experiments conducted by the Southern Fly Fishers some years ago we found that a quill wing fly with 'normal' hackle took longer to reach the floor than did a parachute hackled fly of the same size when released from the same height in still air.

However a March Brown tied with the parachute hackle or a Bogong Beauty tied in this fashion have proved to be deadly. Dick Clark, a member of The Southern Fly is extremely enthusiastic over the Royal Wulff tied with a parachute hackle and has had outstanding success in the well-fished Tasmanian streams and lakes as well as in Victoria.

The effectiveness of the fly is undoubtedly the spread-eagled fibres of the hackle rather than the oft-quoted "landing like thistle down."

The wings form the tying base for the hackle. The hackle is tied in behind the wonder-wings and, as Dick Clark points out, four turns are taken with the feather tip held in the fingers. These turns are taken up the wings and then the tip is held by the hackle pliers and three or four turns taken back through the original turns. The hackle is held up by the fingers of the left hand and the tip tied in. The whip finishing should be no problem if the hackle is held up a little. Figure 7.8. A hackle guard could prove useful here.

Figure 7.8 Parachute Hackle utilizing wings as a base
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  • fly fishing tasmania
    Really nice...You had shared the whole procedure of it..This fly is so modified that it would possibly be preferable to refer to it as a March Brown. ..
    7 years ago
  • amanuel isaias
    How to wind parachute hackle?
    7 years ago
  • Martha
    How to size wings when tyingflys?
    7 years ago
  • stefan newby
    How to use a hackle guard parachute?
    7 years ago
  • delmina
    How to tie a wonder wing video?
    6 years ago

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