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famill00 03-12-2011 10:02 AM

Blue Wing Olive
I want to tie up some BWO. I am new to tying, so please forgive me here. What do you use for the wing of the BWO? Can I just use some blue dun colored hackle feathers? Do they have to be 'dry fly'?

Ard 03-12-2011 11:25 AM

Re: Blue Wing Olive

When I lived in BWO country I made two different style wings. One way was to peel the fibers off of a pair of blue dunn feathers until I had two neat miniature feathers. Actually when you do this you end up with just the tips of the feathers and you may have to try a few times until you select the right 2 feathers to start with. Once you have peeled away enough fibers to give you the right size wings you then mount them with the convex side facing one another. I mount them by holding them strait out over the eye of the hook and put three very light loops of tying thread around the. The loose loops don't kink the little stems and this allows you to let your thread bobbin hang and to release your grasp on the little wings. At this point you can see if they have stayed on top of the hook shank or if they have rolled to one side, split apart etc. If they have went wrong for you, just loosen the thread and try again, and again, until you are ready to scream :D Really, this can get frustrating but trust me you will catch on. Once you have them staying on top and sticking strait out over the eye just gently pull them up & back so that they are toward the tail and make a few tight wraps against the base of the little quills. When you let go they should stand strait up. If you get to this point you are almost home; take the dubbing needle / bodkin, and stick it between the wings and separate them, now with your free hand (you'll figure out that you should come in from behind with the needle) with the free hand take the tying thread between the wings at the base and do a cross wrap. By this I mean a crisscross wrap between the wings. You will see how you must wrap and how much tension to use here. The idea is to make them stand up & apart at the angle you would like. Once you have them in the position you want place a tiny (and I mean tiny) drop of lacquer cement at the base of the wings and on the thread that secures them. Take a rest while you pluck a hackle for the collaring and let that glue set up. Then hackle the fly and finish the head. Remember don't work so close to the eye that the head and cement cover the eye. :)

This takes practice and you will be doing yourself a favor using a size 12 for your first try and make anything you want but if you use this technique and make some size 12 Adams using grizzly tips you will have some usable flies and get your training in before trying the BWO in 16 - 20.

The second style wing involves using slat gray mallard wing quill sections (my favorite wing) and believe me it is the same process but a little tougher to master so let's leave that alone for now.


PS. I'll see if I have some good examples of these wing styles and past them to this reply, if I do I'll PM to let you know they are here. There is a third way too, 'burning' and that's another story. I never did well fishing with burnt wing flies although the wings look very real. Funny thing here, the more real I made dry flies and nymphs look the fewer fish those patterns caught. Sounds weird I know but that's how the order of things worked out for me.

Jimmie 03-12-2011 11:33 AM

Re: Blue Wing Olive
A dun hen cape is generally the best since the tips of the feathers are more rounded. You can use matching tips of a dry cape.

After I posted I saw Ard's response. Very good. What he said.

famill00 03-12-2011 12:37 PM

Re: Blue Wing Olive
So I can buy a dun hen cape and it does not have to be dry fly, correct? This is just for the wings...

Rip Tide 03-12-2011 01:11 PM

Re: Blue Wing Olive
Not everyone would want to do as I do, but I use gray synthetic yarn for my wings.
Olives in my neck of the woods are 20s and 24/26s. At those sizes they're hard enough to tie without getting fancy
With a poly yarn wing, you can tie it in as usual and then trim to size as the final step
The fish like 'em fine that way, just don't expect to show them off to your friends. ;)

If you're using feathers, don't waste expensive dry hackle, softer is better and less likely to spin the tippet.

Flityer 03-12-2011 03:01 PM

Re: Blue Wing Olive
Here is an example of one of my blue winged olives , This one is tied as Ard described. The wings are from a dun hen cape .This is tied on a size 14 hook for the cornuta hatch here.:)

Ard 03-12-2011 07:39 PM

Re: Blue Wing Olive

A beautiful example of what I like to think of as Catskill style dry fly tying. This was also the way that we learned to make dries (especially the way you wind the hackles) in North Central Pennsylvania.


On midge size flies I learned to use Polly yarn strands too. Once I pass #18 hooks they are all Polly now :D


You can use hen but I never did, the hen feathers are not as nice and light as the tips that Allen is showing you here. I tried hen one time so I cant say never. I burned some wings from hen and thought they were heavy and made my flies sink. So............I would use feathers from your dry fly cape.


Pocono 03-12-2011 08:31 PM

Re: Blue Wing Olive
Great classic BWO, Allen!

If you draw a line between the bottom of the hackle and the tip of the tail, you just miss the hook bend; pretty close to textbook from my perspective! :) Nice tie!

Thanks for sharing.


jpbfly 03-13-2011 01:53 AM

Re: Blue Wing Olive
I seldom use hackles to tie wings....maybe nicer on a pic but not sure better on the water;)here are my three olive patterns:
this one with hackle wings and cdc body

Jimmie 03-13-2011 01:11 PM

Re: Blue Wing Olive

Originally Posted by jbbfly (Post 223663)
I seldom use hackles to tie wings....

I love this BWO JP. Does it cast alright or will those wings spin it? I've got to try/tie some.

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