You might know the size of the bugs hatching. You might know their color. But how often do you factor wing style into your dry fly decision? Believe it or not, picking the correct wing style to match the water in front of you can make or break a trout take. I was having a conversation about dry fly styles the other day with my friend Brian Schmidt, who’s job title at Umpqua Feather Merchants is "Fly Production Specialist.” He knows a thing or two about bugs, so I grilled him on which specific dry fly wing styles are appropriate in different situations and water conditions.
Schmidt is the lucky guy at Umpqua that gets to decide which patterns submitted to the company are worthy of being sold commercially and which end up on the floor below the tying bench. He bases his decision on a number of factors, including material cost and how much time it takes to tie the fly. He gets to play with new patterns all day, test them in the company's giant bass tank, and field test them locally on Colorado's world class rivers.
At my request, Schmidt outlined what he considers the 10 most common styles of dry fly wings and in what type of water they shine. I’ve been flyfishing a long time and learned a lot from the tutorial. Next time you’re on the river, don’t just wing it (sorry, I had too). By selecting the proper style, based on the piece of water in front of you, you’ll score more good drifts, and good drifts mean more trout.