Fly of the Month: Quill Body, Mallard Wing Mayfly
Len Wheaton has long been recognized as one of the many expert tiers in Evergreen Trout Unlimited, able to match pretty much any of the traditional patterns as well as tie variations all his own. He also heads up the instructional programs ETU does for students at the Mt. Evans Outdoor Lab, where Jefferson County 6th graders learn how to tie their own flies and then how to fish them.
This fly is a top-water fly that Len calls a Quill Body, Mallard Wing Mayfly. The distinguishing characteristic is that it is tied using a mallard flank feather wing, or at least a piece of one
- Hook: Dai-Riki down-eye such as a 305, # 14 – 20
- Thread: Tan 8/0
- Tail: Brown or red hen hackle, fairly stiff
- Body: Hen hackle quill
- Wing: Mallard flank feather, two small pieces taken from one side. Len used a dyed yellow feather
- Hackle: Red or grizzly
Prepare the quill by stripping the hen hackle and moistening it for an easier wrap.
Tie in your thread, wrapping back to the bend of the hook. Mount and secure a tail of several fibers of hen hackle, then tie in your stripped quill at the tail tie-in point. The tail length is about ½ the hook shank length. Wrap your thread forward to about ¼ of the hook length behind the eye. Keep it sparse.
Now wrap the quill forward to the same point, tie off and clip. Cover the quill body with head cement for snugness and a slight sheen.
Prepare the mallard feather for the wing by cutting two small strip bunches from one side of the flank feather. Place one bunch atop the other (tips matched) and tie this “doubled” bunch in at the ¼ point back of the eye. You are using a “doubled” bunch to add bulk, not to create a flare to the wing. The bunch will be quite a bit longer than your finished wing length. You can trim it later.
Post this wing with several wraps around and behind the base of the feather to prepare it for the parachute hackle. Trim the butts.
Mount the hackle feather at the base of the post and then wrap around the post, parachute style, and tie off. Use half hitches or whip finish, being careful to slip under the hackle, to finish tying off the fly. Cement the head. Finally, trim the flank feather wing to a desired length and shape. One guideline is to make the height about the same as the length back to the bend of the hook -John Haile