Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that
used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials
available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying
materials, they were created and improved upon at a
far slower pace than todays modern counterparts;
limited by materials available and the
Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers
who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns
of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to
you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be
about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you
will fish the flies. Perhaps . .
The Wulff Flies
By Jack Sampson
From Lee Wulff
Published by Frank Amato Publication, Inc.
Portland Oregon. We thank them for use permission.
Archive of Old Flies
When Lee returned from Kentucky - glad to be
back home - he and Dan [Dan Bailey, then physics professor, later the
Dan Bailey of Livingston Montana.]
resumed fishing in earnest and began to experiment with and seriously
design new flies. The Ausable in the Adirondacks and the Esopus
in the Catskills were perfect streams upon which to practice.
Lee had long questioned the design of English
dry flies for American rivers. He considered them too anemic-looking
for our streams - with their fine silk wrapping over quill and the delicate
wire hook. It occurred to him that traditional feathers used by the
British did not float long without constant dressing with a floatant like
Mucelin. He reasoned that an imitation of the big mayflies that would
float in spite of repeated strikes and submersions might be the answer.
He began to use bucktail instead of feathers
to create his imitations of Isonychia, the large gray
mayfly drake. He tied the wings on with dark whitetail deer hair
and made the tail of the same material. The body he made of rabbit
fur dubbing - a highly floatable material. For the hackle he used
medium blue dun cock hackle. By the spring of 1931 he and Bailey
were having spectacular success with the gray, high-riding fly during
the Hendrickson hatch on the Esopus.
Lee tied up a big white-hackle fly to resemble
the coffin fly - the mature stage of the green drake - and found it
was invaluable for late-evening fishing in poor light. He had little
use for the then-popular fan-wing coachman fly which he said had a
tendency top twist when cast and kinked the leader. Also, he said, the
tail - made up of a few fibers of golden pheasant tippet feather -
didn't have anough strength to hold the fly up and level.
He tied the same pattern, but with bucktail
wings and a bucktail tail, and it turned out very well. Lee probably
would have named the three flies something like the Ausable Gray,
Coffin Fly and the Bucktail Coachman, but Dan - already thinking
about commercially-tied flies - talked him into naming them the
Gray Wulff, White Wulff and the Royal Wulff. All three were
later to become world-renowned as successful trout flies - and as
great salmon flies in larger sizes.
Ray Bergman, a friend of Lee's listed the
three patterns in his new book, Trout and they became
popular almost instantly. . .
~ Jack Sampson
Publisher's Note: This may not be exactly the truth. For
another version of where the hair-wings came from see:
The Curious History of the Quack Coachman from Reed Curry's
excellent website: www.overmywaders.com. ~ DLB
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