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Old 08-14-2012, 03:41 PM
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Default Tell dry flies from wet?

Hi,

I have some flies that I suspect are dries, and some others that look like the old school wet flies (not nymphs). If I get some desiccant and floatant, can I test them..? Or will wet flies begin to float like dry flies if I dress them up?

Thanks for the help, as always! In a couple of years I might be in the same position to pass along this wisdom to another new fly rodder!
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:48 PM
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Default Re: Tell dry flies from wet?

Touch the hackle to your lips.
Dry fly hackle is "pointy"
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:53 PM
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Default Re: Tell dry flies from wet?

Wow -- that's exactly why I post here! I'll try it this evening.

My wife already thinks I spend too much time playing with fly equipment, so "making out with flies" might push this one over the top. Lucky for me, she's a good fisherman and is also learning to fly fish with me.
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Tell dry flies from wet?

Hey there,

The floatant test will not tell you what the fly is meant to do. Yes, a wet fly will float if dressed up to do so, and conversely a dry fly can sink if you soak it.

95% of all dry flies have hackle, either as a collar wrapped around the hook shank near the head or wrapped around a wing post that is tied to the hook. Traditional wet flies also have hackle collars but the material is different.

Hackle on a dry fly makes it float, the feather used has stiff barbs so when its wound they stand out perpendicular to the axis it is wrapper around, either the hook shank to hold the fly body up off the water, or on a parachute the hackle fibers splay out in a ring flat on top of the fly body to allow it to sit in the water but still float.
There are good examples of parachutes and traditional hackled dries in this swap, as well as some different style of hackled and non-hackled dries:
Early Season Dry Fly Swap, winter 2011

A wet fly hackle will be a softer feather that generally lays back a bit along the fly and imparts motion to the fly. Check out these winged wets from a swap we did last winter:
Winged Wet Fly Swap, Winter 2012

Does that help?
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:02 PM
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Default Re: Tell dry flies from wet?

Oh great -- that really, really helps me make sense of it! I feel like I can almost eyeball and tell most of them now. I see that some of the wet flies sometimes have a collar that looks a bit dryish, but most are slicked back like West Side Story.

I may actually understand it! Thanks guys --
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