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Fly Tying Terms

Blue-Wing Olive
By Dave Hughes

Endless color and size variations of the traditional hackled style have been tied. You should start with a few that cover the repeated color themes of natural mayflies. Don't hesitate, however, to tie others if you find yourself fishing over hatches that fall outside the most common color spectrum.

Blue-Wing Olive Materials:

    Hook: Standard dry fly. 1X fine, size 12 to 20.

    Thread: Olive 6/0 or 8/0.

    Wings: Mallard wing feathers sections or hen hackle tips.

    Tail: Blue dun hackle fibers.

    Body: Olive fur or synthetic dubbing.

    Hackle: Blue dun.

Instructions Blue-Wing Olive

    1. Fix hook in vise and layer front half with thread. Select matching primary or secondary wing feathers from the right and left wings of a mallard or teal. Clip segments from each that are the width of the gap of the hook. Pair these together with their tips aligned and flared away from each other. If you're using hen hackle tips, pair them back to back, and strip excess fuzzy fibers from the bases of the stems.

    2. Measure the paired feather sections the length of the hook shank, and hold them over the shank one-quarter the shank length behind the eye, with the tips forward. Pinch them tightly with your thumb and forefinger. Work thread up between the wing quill and your thumb on one side, over the wings, and down between your forefinger on the other side. Draw your thread straight down, to compress the feather sections to the top of the hook. Take one or two thread turns to lock them in place.

    3. Take several turns of thread back over the butts to secure the wings, and clip the excess butts on a slant. Hold the wings upright and take several turns of thread in front of them to prop them in position. If necessary, take one or two figure eight turns between the wings to seperate them. This will not usually be needed. Wrap thread over the wing butts and to the bend of the hook.

    4. Measure eight to twelve stiff hackle fibers the length of the hook, and tie them in at the bend of the hook. They should be straight, and gathered, not splayed. Twist a fine skein of dubbing to the thread, and wind a neatly tapered body forward to the base of the wing.

    5. Tie in a hackle with fibers the length of two hook gaps. Secure the hackle stem to the hook eye, and clip the excess. Wrap three to four turns of hackle behind the wings, four to five in front. For a more classical sparse tie, use just three turns on each side of the wings. Tie off the tip and clip the excess. Form a neat thread with a minimum number of thread turns. Whip finish and clip the thread.

    6. The traditional tie, when set on a tabletop, should perch on the tip of its tail and its hackle points, with the hook held just off the table. It will be quite an attractive apparatus to you, if properly tied, and will attract a surprising number of trout. It's shape captures perfectly that of the natural mayfly dun emerging and floating on slightly rough to very rough water.

Credits: From Matching Mayflies by Dave Hughes, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.


For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.


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