Strip winged/married winged flies are by far my favorite type of fly to catch steelhead on. There is just something special about catching a steelhead on a fly that takes some effort to tie. I still fish all kinds of different type of steelhead flies but when the time is just right one of these special flies is called to action. There is nothing wrong with fishing bunny’s or marabou’s and I will when water conditions dictate, but the gratification of hooking a steelhead on the quick and easy tie is not quite the same. The following step by step should be used just as a guide. There are few rules and no limits to how you put “your” fly together. When I am tying flies like this each ends up being one of a kind. I will use the same color combo but change things up a little to keep it fun and fresh. I have a few that have proved to be consistent catchers that I will copy but most of the time it’s freestyle. Do not let this type of fly intimidate you. The best way to learn how to tie the more complex flies is to jump right in and keep tying ‘til it looks right. Having the right materials helps, but finding them is not as difficult as it has been in the past. If you want to marry up some wings, Hareline has great goose shoulder that is very easy to work with. As always, have fun with this one and thanks for looking.
Purple Married Wing
Hook: Alec Jackson 3/0
Thread: Black 6/0
Tip: Fine silver oval tinsel
Tag: Silk floss
Tail: Golden pheasant crest veiled with small blue feather
Butt: Ostrich herl
Body: Rear half silk floss, forward half dubbing
Ribbing: Flat pearl Mylar tinsel followed by silver oval tinsel
Hackle: Blue eared pheasant
Collar: Blue eared pheasant
Under wing: Jungle cock
Wing: married strips of different colors of goose shoulder
Cheek: Jungle cock and small blue feather
This fly like most I tie has a tip and a tag. I use oval for the tip to ensure that the tag stays in place and does not slip down the bend of the hook. Start by securing the tying thread at the bend of the hook. Secure in a length of fine silver oval tinsel. Wrap the tying thread down the bend of the hook keeping the tinsel on the back side of the hook as you go. I stop when the tying thread is in line with the root of the barb but as I said there are few rules and if you want your tag shorter or longer it is up to you. Next take three turns with the tinsel and secure. With the tip secured in run the thread back up the bend of the hook keeping the tag end of the tinsel on the back side of the hook. Secure in a length of floss and take it down to the tip and back. Secure in the crest for the tail and veil it with the small feather. I try to pick a crest feather that matches the bend of the hook. Secure in the ostrich herl and make a few turns to build up the butt. This part of the fly becomes a focal point. If it is not balanced or if it is sloppy the rest of the fly will suffer. Take some time to get it right, you will be more pleased with the fly if you do.
Run the thread to the mid joint of the fly. Secure in a length of oval tinsel followed by a length of pearl Mylar followed by a length of floss. Take the floss down to the butt trapping the ribbing as you go. Keep the ribbing on the back side of the hook and make sure each wrap of the floss is consistent. With the floss back at the mid joint secure but do not clip the tag end.
At the mid joint secure in the hackle. On this fly I stripped off the fibers from the right side of the feather and secured it in by the tip. Buy securing the feather in tip first the shorter fibers of the feather will start the palmer with the longer fibers ending at the eye. On spey flies the hackle is tied in root first so that the palmer is started with the longer fibers. This is an option if you like the look but this is not a spey fly so that rule is not in effect. With the hackle secured in take the tag end of the floss and tie the end in a knot. This creates a loop for the dubbing. Load the loop with dubbing and give it a spin. Take the dubbing to the eye and secure. Don’t crowd the eye, you will need a little extra room for the wing.
The ribbings come next. Start by wrapping the Mylar forward making 5 turns. 5 turns of ribbing is a standard on the old classics. This is one of the only rules I hold fast to. Follow the Mylar with the oval tinsel. The oval tinsel is old school as well. It more for function than looks. Its main purpose is to protect the hackle stem.
The hackle follows the oval rib. Make sure the stem is pulled down tightly through the dubbing. Try to finish the wrapping of the hackle under the shank of the hook. This will keep the top clear for the wing. As with all of the materials on the fly you should only use two or three wraps to secure in or tie off materials. Thread control is key.
Secure in a hackle for the collar. Fold the fibers from both sides of the feather so they are all flowing back. Make a number of turns and secure. Again try to end with the stem on the bottom, keeping the top clear. To keep things tidy pull off all the fibers from the stem that will not be used in the collar. Securing in stem only helps keep the build up at the head to a minimum.
For the under wing select two matching jungle cock feathers. If jungle cock is not an option for you yet, use two feathers from a cape you do have. Gauge to length and clean all the fluff and fiber from the stem. Using hemostats (with flat jaws) flatten the stems. To get the under wing to lay flat across the body make a bend in the stems. Run the steam through the eye of the fly and while pinching firmly of the two feathers make a number of secure wraps. This is one of the hard parts, so take you time and be sure to walk away and cool off if things get too ruff. A vise will put a pretty good hole in the drywall if you are not careful.
Here is a close up of how I bend the stems on the under wing.
Build up a wing by taking strips of different colored fibers from the feather. Fibers from the left side of the feather for the front side of the fly and fibers from the right side of the feather for the back side of the fly. You can use all kinds of feather for strip wings but goose shoulder is by far the easiest to work with. Dyed turkey tail and swan are hard feathers to find but will produce fibers long enough for wings used on larger hooks, 3/0 or larger. If you are just getting started stay away from pheasant tail, especially golden pheasant. Just trust me on that one. To set the wing, place both sides of the married wings together. Cup the wing over the under wing making sure the back side wing move over the back of the hook. While pinching the wing make a soft loop with the thread then while pulling straight down firm up the wrap. Make a number of firm securing wraps before letting go of the wing. These are just some basics, you could write a book on tying in this type of a wing. Putting a bend in the wing prior to setting it in will help in taming the wing over the back of the fly. This is called humping the wing, but these days it is kind of scary using terminology like that so I won’t go there.