An English old-timer named Frederic Halford literally wrote the book on tying dry flies back in 1886 – yeah, published 136 years ago – in his book titled Floating Flies and How To Dress Them.
I often thumb through the electronic archive copy over at archive.org. Recently, however, I discovered that there have been some modern re-publications of his books and I now have a copy on order. Little did I know, the seller is shipping it from Australia. Talk about a slow boat from China …
A while ago I created a webpage based solely on the chapter in his book that depicts fly-dressing, Halford-style, in great detail. Recently, I added another section that shows a technique he developed called the Improved Method of Winging Upright Duns. Notice how the wings are tied on with the tips pointing rearward. You can read the rest over at my Fly Dressing page
What I really like about the technique is that it allows you to tie on the wings fairly close to the hook eye (necessary on small hooks) without the difficulty of trimming the wing feather stubs so close to the eye itself. It’s really an ingenious improvement to his original “ordinary” method.
One of the finest fly-dresser in the world today, Davey McPhail of Scotland, demonstrates this exact technique in one of his 700+ YouTube videos and it’s definitely worth a look. Saying that the guy is a master is actually an understatement. Here he spends the first few minutes talking about using hen hackle on a dry fly so you can skip to the 2:05 mark to get right to the fly-dressing.
What a beautiful dry fly. Between the two of them, we fly-dressers can learn A LOT from their work. They are truly two of the best.