How to tie the yellow mayfly step by step

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Yellow mayfly   This is one of those technique that has recently become extremely popular again, after being more or less shelved, for over four decades. The original Wally wing was created by Canadian tyer Wally Lutz in the early seventies. This winging technique, falls under the category of ‘revers hackle wings’ along with Wonder wings and Origami wings. Although all three styles have similar characteristics, the latter two require two hackles for a pair of wings and just about any type of hackle or feather with long enough barbules can be used for this technique. Whereas both wings are made for the Wally wing with a single feather. We are also restricted here to what feathers can be utilised for the Wally wing splitting technique. The most popular being, breast and flank feathers from various water fowl, game birds and CDC.   Your choice of winging material for tying Wally wings is paramount, if you wish to succeed ! If you have purchased a packet with mixed mallard or teal flank, only a limited amount of these will be useable. Here I can recommend purchasing a whole mallard drake skin. Having a whole skin has many advantages. The price of a whole skin is nominal, when you think of what you pay for a little packet ‘stuffed’ with feathers that only contains only a couple of grams.  All the feathers are perfectly packaged by nature on a skin, keeping them all in the same direction and neatly stacked on top of each other. This also makes selection of individual feathers in the size required easier. If you feel the investment of a whole skin is beyond your budget, consider purchasing one as a collective with other fly tying friends and splitting it.   There is a mixed school of thought in the fly tying and fishing fraternity when it comes to fishing with Wally winged patterns. Some say they are hopeless and constantly twist the leader under casting, others, like my good friend and world class fly tyer, Trevor Jones, who has been one of the pioneers behind the reveal of this pattern, swears by them. No matter what your opinion may be, I think we can all agree, that they make a beautiful fly and are fun to tie.   Regarding the technique used here that I developed to tie, Wally wings, you will require a small plastic tube to hold the barbules in place for tying in.  I have experimented with several types of tube for executing this technique and have found the absolute best, is a tapered reserve nozzle from a small bottle of UV resin.  Depending on what size of Wally wings you intend to tie, you will firstly have to adjust the tip opening of the nozzle to the correct size of feather to be used.  This is simply achieved by preparing a flank feather as in step 15, and see if you can pass it, all the way through the tube, you don’t want to tie the wings in and not be able to remove the tube because the feather stem is too thick.  Cut a couple of mm from the end of the tube and try again. Repeat until the correct nozzle opening is attained.  

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1. Secure your dry fly hook in the vice, as shown, with the hook shank horizontal.  

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  2. Run a slim foundation of tying thread along the hook shank, as shown.

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  3. Select a nicely marked ginger Coq de Leon hackle for the tail fibres. Tie in the bunch on top of the hook shank. The tail should be approximately the same length as the hook shank.

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  4. Select a mallard flank feather with long barbules and nice markings. Make sure that there are no short barbules in the two sections to be used for the wings.

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  5. Strip off the down fibres at the base of the hackle. Wet the barbules at the tip of the flank feather and straighten.

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  6. Before you tie on the wings you will need a small plastic tube. This one is from a bottle of UV resin. 

 
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7.
Place the tip into the tube and carefully pull through until you have the size of wings required. It’s always best to make the wing a little larger than needed, it can be trimmed down to the correct size later.
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8.
Now keeping the mallard flank in the tube offer the wings up to the correct position on the thorax and secure with a couple of turns of tying thread. While retaining tension on your bobbin, carefully position the wings to their final resting place and secure with a few more turns of thread. Still retaining tension on your bobbin slide the tube off.
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9.
Once secure cut away the remaining stem of the mallard flank feather.

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10.
Now you can tidy up the remaining stem with a few more turns of tying thread. Try and make a slight taper on the abdomen.
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11. 
This is how the wing should look from the front of the hook.
 
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12.
Now your ready to split the wings. While holding the tip of the mallard flank in one hand carefully separate the nearest barbules from the tip with the other hand.
Carefully pull the the barbules away from the feather stem as shown. Until it tears all the way down to the thorax. 
 
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13.
Repeat to make the second wing.
 
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14.
Trim away the excess fibers from the centre and tips of the wings.
 
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15.
Tie in a yellow turkey biot at the tail base.
 
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16.
Attach a hackle plier and wrap the turkey biot in tight neat turns up over the abdomen to form the body. Tie off at the thorax.
 
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17.
Prepare and tie in a yellow saddle hackle at the thorax 90 degrees from the hook shank.
 
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18.
Wrap the hackle forward as shown behind and then in front of the wing. Tie off the hackle behind the hook eye. 
 
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19.
Trim off the excess hackle and whip finish.
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20.
Apply a drop of varnish to the head and your yellow may is ready.
 
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21.
Front view of the finished yellow may.

2 thoughts on “How to tie the yellow mayfly step by step

  1. I’ve started trying most of my Wally-winged Duns with the wings “backwards” from what your video shows. What I mean is I tie the feather in with the stem facing forward instead of the feather tip. My observation is that the naturals have their wings tilted back over the abdomen instead of straight up. I feel that tying the wings the way I described helps attain that tilt.

    1. Hi Darrell, yes you can do it both ways, this I use mostly for imago stage the dun stage is more straight up.