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Wulff Dry Fly Step-by-Step:
Full disclosure…I had my reservations about posting this tutorial as is. Simply put, I found myself unsatisfied with the outcome of this tie. The proportions seem slightly off, the tail was not stacked well and the hackle wraps leave much to be desired. All of that said, this fly will fish as tied. And more importantly, I have full confidence it will catch. As such, I decided to post as tied. Ugly flies do catch fish after all. Enough of this though…on to the tying.
While the classic Adams rightfully reigns as the King of Dry Flies, Lee Wulff‘s famed series surely ranks a close second. Featuring both a hair-wing and hair-tail, Wulff-style dries were designed for situations the more delicate Adams was never meant to venture. Highly buoyant and thicker bodied, the Wulff rides high through broken and turbulent waters that would quickly drown an Adams. Tied in sizes 8 to 16, these flies are excellent mimics of various mayfly species and a must when larger drakes are on the water.
Tied in Gray for this example, Wulff-style dries can be tied in a variety of colors to either match the hatch or serve as search patterns over broken water.
|Standard Dry Fly (#16-8)||70 Denier (Gray)||Bucktail (Brown)|
|Dubbing (Gray)||Z-lon (White)||Brown or Dark Dun|
Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:
(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge)
Tips and Tricks
- The Calf Tail dilemma – This is neither a tip nor a trick, but something I feel warrants addressing. On more than one occasion, I have heard self-proclaimed internet experts exclaim: “It’s not a Wulff dry if it doesn’t have a white calf tail wing.” Sadly, these remarks are often aimed at novice tyers utilizing the material they have on hand. Beyond providing nothing of value to the novice tyer who may be seeking earnest critiques, the statement is also categorically wrong. Per Skip Morris in his 1992 guide Fly Ting Made Clear and Simple, “Lee is quite open-minded regarding materials for his Wulff series.” While Lee’s original pattern utilized Brown Bucktail (not calf tail) for the tail and wing, he was open to the use of other materials (calf tail, elk hair, etc) as well. As such, novice tyers should feel comfortable substituting for similar materials when necessary.
- Skate it, Skitter it, Make it Dance – Unlike the more delicate Adams, the Wulff can be a fly of action. While equally adept on the dead drift, this high riding, buoyant pattern excels on an active retrieve. If your dead drift isn’t eliciting strikes next time you’re on the water, try giving your line a little tug or letting your rod tip swing. The unexpected skating/skittering action produced as the fly dances along the surface may be just the thing to trigger a strike.
Proof of Concept
Returning once again to Colorado in the summer of 2019, this patterns proof of concept comes in the form of the stunning Brook Trout featured in the image to the right.
Captured along a small stream high in the IPWA, this trout was one of many brookies that succumbed to Wulff-style dries that afternoon in the midst of an intermittent hatch of large mayflies.