WD4. The Royal Wulff Dry Fly
WULFF DRY FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 10 12 14 - $US each
THE ROYAL WULFF DRY FLY STORY
The Royal Coachman is an American pattern that is the gaudy cousin of the British Coachman. When the Coachman wet fly crossed the Atlantic Theodore Gordon adapted it to a dry fly .In 1876 John Hailey, a professional fly-dresser living in New York, added the red silk band to create the distinctive feature of all Royal patterns. He had been asked to tie some extra strong Coachmen Dry flies. He tied a band of red silk in the middle to prevent the peacock bodies from fraying out. He had also added a tail of barred wood duck feathers. His dry fly has spawned a whole range of variants including streamers and hairwings. Mr L.C.Orvis gave it it's name whilst discussing with others what it should be called. He said "Oh, that is easy enough: call it the Royal Coachman. It is so finely dressed". Although the wings may vary, all have the same red central body section, butted either end with peacock herl. It often works when nothing else will.
The Royal coachman is an excellent general purpose up-winged dry fly that can be used to represent many other large winged insects as well as may flies. It is an ideal wasp, hornet or bee pattern. Treat with floatant and fish it on the surface. Try the occasional retrieve over the surface for a short distance or else twitch it to represent a struggling terrestrial insect like a wasp or bee trapped in the surface film.
Lee Wulff did not create the Royal Wulff. He created the Gray and White Wulff during his stay in the Adirondacks during the 1929. Q L Quackenbush, one of the early members of the Beaverkill Trout Club above Lew Beach in NY state, is credited with designing the Royal Coachman hair wing dry fly. He liked the the fanwinged Royal Coachman but found the wings too flimsy and fragile. He asked tyer Reuben Cross of Neversink, New York to dress a Royal Coachman with a more robust wing. Reuben asked his suppliers to send him suitable material that was stiff, white and kinky. They sent him Impala tails that were ideal for the task. It was originally given the name of the Quack Coachman by members of the Beverkill Trout Club. It looked very similar to the more popular Wulff dry flies and gradually became known as the Royal Wulff.
WULFF DRY FLIES
The Wulff series of fly patterns were developed by Lee Wulff. It presents a bushy, high floating fly, that remains visible into the evening twilight, and rides well in rough water. Every modern fly angler should have one or more of Lee Wulff's innovations. He designed and sold the first fly fishing vests, championed reeling with the left hand on fly reels (so the rod was in the stronger right hand), invented the first palming spool fly reels, introduced the fly-O casting practice rigs, popularized the "riffling hitch" for salmon fishing and designed the popular triangle taper lines. However, Lee Wulff's best-known innovations were in his flies.
Wulff patterns were the first flies to use hair for fly wings and tails. Almost all dry flies available in the winter of 1929/30 were, according to Wulff, anemic and too delicate, which he ascribed to their British tradition. The reason for very slim flies was that if a fly was too bulky the feather materials did not have the buoyancy to hold it up. A very popular pattern, for example, was the Fanwing Coachman that not only twisted the leader but also sunk at the tail due to the golden pheasant tail fibers used. Wulff also noted that dry flies with wings and tails of feathers get slimed up and are not very durable. To Wulff, the solution was obvious use bucktail (deerhair) for tails and wings. The mobility and buoyancy of elk and deer hair has made it a favorite North American fly tying material.
The first Wulff flies were tied to imitate the Isonychia (Gray Drake) and Green Drake hatches in the Catskills area of North East America. Wulff first fished these patterns with his regular fishing companion, Dan Bailey, who was then a science teacher in Brooklyn. In those early trials with these new patterns, Lee's was not disappointed. He found that the fish seemed to prefer the bulkier flies that "looked more" like the naturals than the more anemic patterns that were then popular. With respect to durability, the hairwing flies also excelled. Wulff reports he caught 51 trout on one Gray Wulff fly in an early outing, needing only to "grease up the fly for every 5-6 fish". The first patterns included the Gray Wulff, White Wulff and Royal Wulff. The Grey Wulff can be used to imitate any dark mayfly the trout are feeding on but when Lee Wulff was reportedly asked what the Royal Wulff was imitating he supposedly said, "Strawberry shortcake, something great big and juicy floating down to a large trout." It is an attractor pattern that is easily seen and high floating. It is a sweet little dessert that predatory fish find irresistible.
Later several other Wulff patterns, including the Grizzly Wulff, Black Wulff, Brown Wulff and Blonde Wulff were developed. Lee Wulff stated that these flies were a general kind of fly, not a particular pattern. When you first use Wulff flies treat with floatant and fish on the surface. Leave the fly to drift with the current. Occasionally accelerate it gently over short distances of a yard (meter) or more, or else twitch it to represent a struggling insect trapped in the surface film. They were first used in Britain in the 1950's but they saw very little service in Ireland until after 1990
WHEN & HOW TO FISH BIG FLIES
On days when a cold wind ruffles the water surface, when the river or stream is swollen from over night rains, that is the time to go for a big fly. There is little likelihood of a hatch. Most anglers turn to their trusted nymph patterns. Brake with the norm. Look for pockets and pools of calmer water where the trout will take refuge from the fierce current. Work upstream and fish a big fly into this gathering place. Let the fly drift for a little way and then give it a gentle tweak to create a tiny wake on the water surface to suggest life. I find it is best to check the flies progress with the rod tip rather than pulling in the fly line to prevent line drag showing up un-naturally on the surface and spooking the fish. Look for that small patch of calmer water directly behind larger rocks or the quieter area found between two meeting currents. I have found it best not to cast to the same area too often. A couple of casts to one then move on to the next and then the next, then return to the first area
It is the large imprint on the water's surface that attracts the trout's attention. they are opportunists by nature and normally will not pass up such a substantial meal so long as it is cast and present correctly. As an experiment I cast one of these large flies during a hatch of tiny flies. The tiny fly designs in my fly box were the wrong color and not working. The fish were pre-occupied with supping down the surface feast. Casts that were not in front of the fish's nose were ignored, but get your large fly within it's forward target zone and whoosh, it would be taken in a greedy attack.
Because of the more extravagant hackles on these flies their aerodynamic qualities are not very good. Delicate presentations are difficult. I find slowing down on the cast helps and I use a stronger leader of about 5lb breaking strain. Do not even think of using fine tippets as you will end in an annoying tangled mess. In really windy weather I even use a heavier leader.
I have just returned from a trout fishing trip in the Blue Mountains. My son Ben caught his first big trout on a fly with one of your white Wulff patterns. A 50cm 3 pound rainbow trout. He was wraped and has not shut up about it. The dam rose from 35 per cent to 40 and that was smashing them as they left the water. Ben matched it with the white Wulff and he got the result. Everyone was so happy to see the kid catch such a nice fish, good on him. One of the blokes fishing with us was very impressed with your flies and asked me to send an order. Thanks for the great service. Tight Lines. Peter Wilson. Jesmond, NSW. Australia
I mainly fish in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. The Eucumbene River is my main destination. The most useful fly for us in the Eucumbene River is the Royal Wulff in a size 12. It floats well and the boys can see it easily and it works! The trout in the Eucumbene don't seem to be very fussy eaters and there doesn't seem to be big hatches of particular insects that makes them selective. In mid summer we do get good numbers of grasshoppers and the Royal Wulff seems to work as a grasshopper patters as well. I suspect its success is because it is a good sized meaty chunk that will bring a fish up through a meter or so of fast water as the energy it appears to contain is more than the fish expends in coming to the surface. This is perfect for novices as we fish the fast water where presentation is less important and even if there is no obvious fish activity we still have a good chance of bringing one up.
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