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Pocono 07-29-2010 08:17 PM

Flatwing Flies
I'm headed up to Maine for some R&R and some Striper fishing. This year, I thought I'd tie up some Striper patterns to take with me; see if I can get a fish to bite on one of my ties.

I looked around, talked to some people and came up with the name Kenny Abrames. He fishes Stripers in and around the Rhode Island area; along with a crew of fishing buddies, including Ray Bondorew. Kenny's written a couple of books; "Striper Moon" and "A Perfect Fish, Illusions in Fly Tying". Ray also has a few books out, including one called "Stripers and Streamers".

One of the interesting things about Kenny's flies is that he ties a lot of what he calls "Flatwings"; flies where the feather is tied in on the horizontal plane, not vertical like I'm use to on winged wets and salmon flies.

I liked one of the things that he said about flatwing ties. When you hold a feather up, its easy to see that it wants to move side to side; not necessarily up and down. Similarly, when a baitfish move through the water, the motion of the body is side-to-side, not up and down (unless it's a mammal masquerading as a fish). The only way that you can get a feather to move side to side, is to tie it in on the flat; horizontal; perpendicular to the hook.

It took me some getting used to, but I liked the effect in the end.

Here are some flatwing ties; taken from Kenny's "A Perfect Fish....." book. If you see anything that you like, I can supply some more details and maybe a step-by-step.

This is a single flatwing pattern, called the "Morning Glory":

This is a double flatwing pattern (two feathers tied in on the flat), called the "Henry T". If you look at the bucktail collar on this fly, you'll see that it's made up of 7 different shades of bucktail. One of the other things that Kenny does is to mix colors in order to get closer to the actual colors of some of the predominant baitfish.

And here a quadruple flatwing (four feather tied in flat), called the "Eel Punt":

Getting away from the flatwings, here's a bucktail streamer named after his friend Ray Bondorew, it's called, appropriately, "Ray's Fly":

Getting further away, here's my version of an old shrimp pattern, called the "General Practitioner":

In some areas, there's such a thing as a Clam Worm hatch. I'm not sure if they have them in Maine, but here's one; just in case (it rivals the Green Weenie in terms of ease of tying):

And last, but by no means least, it's always hard for me to move completely away from a bugger-style tie; they just plain work; for almost all species and for a lot of the time. I call this one the "Pink Squid"; which is what a big saltwater bugger-based pattern is supposed to be imitating.

Getting back to the flatwing patterns, I'm really interested to see how they perform. I plan on fishing a standard hairwing, like a Lefty's Deceiver on the point and a flatwing on a dropper. That should give me a pretty good comparison.

I'll post some pics; if I land any fish!


ChrisinselwynNZ 07-29-2010 11:24 PM

Re: Flatwing Flies
Nice, the sparse dressing should give good movement while you strip them in:)


jpbfly 07-30-2010 01:11 AM

Re: Flatwing Flies

Originally Posted by Pocono (Post 117001)
I'll post some pics; if I land any fish!


You will Allan,your flies look great;)the pink squid is as sexy as a crazy horse dancer:D

Pocono 07-30-2010 04:51 AM

Re: Flatwing Flies
Its been a while since I've been to the Crazy Horse, J-P. If I catch a few Stripers, I may have to go back - just to see if you're right! :);)

---------- Post added at 05:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:42 AM ----------


Originally Posted by ChrisinselwynNZ (Post 117098)
Nice, the sparse dressing should give good movement while you strip them in:)



Yes, the sparseness, according to Abrames, is supposed to be one of the keys to getting good side-to-side motion. Apparently he developed this method to be able to get movement out of his flies even when they were dead drifted.

If you look at each of the flatwings, you'll see that the "tails" are supported by bucktail. The material for the support is taken from the bottom of the tail; where the hairs are he stiffest; hence offering the best support. When three or more feathers are used to make the flatwing tail, he also uses a cock hackle as an additional support.

The flatwing feathers that I used were Whiting American hen hackle; tied in so that the curvature of the feather is facing down. When I tied in 3+ hen feathers, the support feather was a Whiting American cock hackle; tied in with the curvature facing up.

I think that this saltwater concept has application for trout, too. I've got some ideas that I'm going to try to develop when I'm back in September.


Rip Tide 07-30-2010 08:02 AM

Re: Flatwing Flies
I use flat wing style flies most of the time and tie nearly all my deceivers that way
You'll find that they work best on a floating line, not on the intermediate line that most people are use to for fishing the salt
This is because the action of the horizonially tied tail is extremely natural when dead drifted or stripped slowly. This action does not translate as well with the steady strip needed when using a sinking line.

Beginning in August, the prominent bait fish becomes the young of the year menhaden, known locally as peanut bunker
You might want to tie up a few flies with a fuller profile
Some of Kenny's flies work well for this. An excellent one is the September Night.
Personally I like Lou Tabory's Snake fly (which I tie with a flat wing tail) or a high/low style fly of craft fur.

mcnerney 07-30-2010 09:25 AM

Re: Flatwing Flies
Allan: Very nice looking flat wing flies! You should do well chasing Stripers with that arsenal. Makes me wonder if the salt water flat wing flies is where Kelly Galloup came up with the idea for the very successful Zoo Cougar fly?


HuronRiverDan 07-30-2010 11:07 AM

Re: Flatwing Flies
Nice looking flies Alan, hope to see a good report and pics of your successful trip...:)

JP, does Tiana know your going to the Crazy Horse?...:D

Larry, I was wondering the same thing about the Zoo Cougar.


Rip Tide 07-30-2010 11:16 AM

Re: Flatwing Flies
He'll probably hunt me down and tell me I'm wrong (he's done it before :rolleyes:) but
Abrams got the idea for the saltwater flat wing from the classic Maine streamer the "9-3"

kelkay 08-01-2010 10:16 AM

Re: Flatwing Flies
Great flatwings, they are really cool. :D

Pocono 08-03-2010 07:12 PM

Re: Flatwing Flies

Originally Posted by Rip Tide (Post 117241)
He'll probably hunt me down and tell me I'm wrong (he's done it before :rolleyes:) but
Abrams got the idea for the saltwater flat wing from the classic Maine streamer the "9-3"


You're right. Up here the predominant baitfish is the menhaden, which we call "Pogies" in Maine. I didn't have enough time to tie up any versions of them, but I wish that I had. September Night was on my list, but; no time.

Abrames does credit the 9-3 as one of the earliest flatwing flies; it's the first fly listed in his chapter on single flatwing patterns; in the book "The Perfect Fish.......".

Thanks for the tip on floating lines when fishing a flatwing dead drifted; makes sense when you think about it; that the weight of the sinking or sink-tip line, when stripped, would interfere with the natural motion of the flat tail feather(s).

First Striper trip comes up later this week. Early reports from other fishermen are that fish are scarce. So, we'll see if there's anything out there.


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