What is a winged wet fly? A winged wet fly is any fly pattern that has a wing made of hair, quill, or feather and is meant to represent an aquatic insect emerging or drowned adult. Although winged wet flies are generally fished wet, under the surface, they may also be fished as a dry fly in the surface film.
In the days gone by winged wet flies were extremely popular among fly fisherman. Yet today we rarely see winged wet fly patterns for sale in shops or talked about online. Even though they seem less popular today the classic winged wet fly patterns, such as the Royal Coachman, Governor, Hare's Ear and Leadwing Coachman or still extremely effective fly patterns
Winged wet fly patterns can be used to represent emerging mayflies and oviposting caddisflies or drowned mayflies, which are often referred to as stillborns. Although we will never know for sure what trout see winged wet flies as they do work and sometimes better than any other patterns.
Many times a white winged wet fly with either a peacock herl or black chenille or dubbed body can be deadly. The white wing is extremely visible to the trout and the dark contrasting body seems to help accent the wing.
The wing materials used to tie these patterns will vary between fly tiers. The most common materials used are duck or goose quills, calf tails, and turkey tail feathers. Some complain the stiffness of quill wings causes their leader to twist. Although I have not run into this problem if you slightly mash the quill wing so it looks like a trout has been chewing on it you should not have to worry about the leader twisting and your wet fly will still be just as effective. Substituting white calf tail for the quill wing will also work and makes an extremely durable wing. Although I don't think it sinks as fast as a quill wing do. I have also found some feathers near the rump of a partridge that make better wings than using turkey tail feathers. I now prefer partridge rump feathers for my hare's ear and March Brown wet fly patterns.
Hackle used on the winged wet fly patterns needs to be soft, webby hen feathers. I prefer Collins Farms hen capes or some India hen capes or possibly some starling. These softer hackles help the fly to sink faster. I only tie 2-3 wraps of hackle before tying on the wing material. If you want your wet fly to lay on the surface dab some dry fly dressing on the fly to help it stay on top of the film.