Fly Tying with Expert Will Bush: The Art of Marrying a Wing

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If you’re a fly tier, you know the satisfaction that comes from crafting the perfect fly. The subtle dance of materials and performance can be a tricky balance, especially when it comes to more advanced techniques. One such technique that has both beginners and experts intrigued is the art of ‘marrying a wing.’ And who better to shed light on this than the expert fly tier, Will Bush? Let’s dig deeper into the rich history behind marrying wings and how to perfectly combine feathers.

What is a Married Wing in Fly Tying?

To put it simply, a married wing involves seamlessly joining two or more different types of feathers side by side. But this isn’t just for show; the combined wing mirrors the movement of aquatic critters, making your fly that much more tempting to fish.

A Brief History of the Married Wing

Historically, the technique of marrying wings originated with traditional salmon flies. At first, it was all about aesthetics, but fly tiers soon realized the practical benefits – these wings mimicked aquatic prey exceptionally well, making them more effective at attracting fish. As fly tying techniques evolved over time, so did the methods for creating married wings, leading to more refined approaches. Now, this technique is a key element in fly tying, blending age-old traditions with contemporary practicality.

Materials and Basic Technique

The materials and the technique are central to any fly-tying venture. Getting them right is the difference between a fly that floats and one that truly works. Here’s Bush’s take on the whole process:

Choosing the Right Material

Feather choice can make or break your fly tying experience. Take the Goose shoulder, for instance. This feather isn’t just popular because of tradition; it has practical advantages. It comes in varying lengths, which means you can cater to different fly sizes. Moreover, the longer fibres are great for bigger flies, while the shorter sections fit the bill for your average-sized ones. Hence, Goose shoulder, in particular, stands out as a reliable material when you’re trying to craft those intricate married wings.

Counting and Clipping the Fibers

If you’re just dipping your toes into fly tying, counting fibers can be a handy roadmap. It’s a bit like having training wheels when you’re learning to ride. But once you’re in the groove, especially with certain patterns, you might find it’s not always necessary. The trick lies in how you clip the goose shoulder. By ensuring you’ve got a clear back and front side for your wings, you’re on the right path.

Marrying the Fibers

When you’re dealing with something as specific as individual fibres, alignment is everything. That’s where a Bodkin comes into play. This isn’t just some fancy tool; it’s essential for guiding the fibers, counting them, and keeping them in line. And if they stray? No worries. Just make sure they’re realigned while still on the stem.

Incorporating Different Feather Types

Birds offer a spectrum of feather types, each with its own set of quirks. Recognizing these distinctions is paramount. For example, while the peacock’s wing feathers are striking, they’re also thick. So, when you’re looking to blend them with something like a goose shoulder, you might want to look towards the base of the feather. That’s where the fibers are a tad more refined and easier to work with.

Bringing It All Together

Once you’ve got your fibers paired up, it’s all about precision. Crafting married wings is equal parts art and science, involving splitting, joining, and combining. It’s a dance, really, whether you’re working with the fiery hue of orange fibers, the deep richness of clarette, or the intricate patterns of peacock wings. With attention to detail and a keen eye, you’re set to craft some truly impressive wings.

Watch it Here

At the end of the day, fly tying isn’t just a hobby; it’s a craft. And within this craft, nailing the married wing technique can set you apart. It’s a nod to the traditions of old while embracing the advancements of today. That said, if you’re interested and want a closer look at the technique in action, Bush’s Mini-Course is invaluable. Here’s to better ties and even better catches!

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Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

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