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.
WULFF DRY FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 10 12 14 - $US each
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 stoked 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 am kind of partial to Wulffs myself. I shook the hand of its namesake many years ago when Mr. Wulff was alive. Mrs. Wulff is a great spokesman for the sport and industry. My old copy of "Fly Casting Techniques" was autographed when I met them. Good Book too. - By Don Brier
Wulffs are great attractor flies, they float like corks and they are very durable. - By Ken Hume
The Wulff Dry fly is probably my favorite fly however for the Big Atlantics late in the year, August-September. The White Wulff is my go to for sure. By Glen Hobbs
FACEBOOK READER'S COMMENT
I fish Eastern and Western river. The Wulff fly is best in faster moving water. Best light Cahill imitation for faster water ie tailouts. I use size 14-18 mostly as well Chris Simonds, USA