Mayfly patterns sometimes call for shaped wings. Here is a
method for fly tiers who wish to follow the recipe pattern
religiously. You can also spice up other mayfly patterns
by using shaped wings. Burnt wings enhance mayflies; they
look more realistic and perform well on the water. This
procedure is not complicated and is easy enough for even
the beginner to master.
The term "Burnt Wing" is the process of shaping a wing, using
a flame and a metal template. The template protects the portion
of the feather you wish to shape. You shape the wing by burning
away the excess feather material left exposed to the flame.
The 'Mayfly Wing' templates are normally sold in sets
of three, and differ only in the width of the wing desired.
You control the length of wing, by the placement of the
feather into the template. The set of three templates
cost approximately $8.00. They will last a lifetime.
For Burnt Wings on Mayfly Patterns, I prefer to use hen cape
feathers. The webby center portion of the hen feather gives
the wing a solid appearance.
First remove the lower marabou barbs off the feather,
these are not part of the final wing.
The length of the wing should be the same as the total
length of the hook, from the eye-to the-bend. I reference
the length of the wing, placing the feather next to the
hook to be used, marking the feather with a felt tip pen.
Place the feather between the metal templates of the
Burning Tool. Adjust the position of the feather for
proper alignment. You may need to shorten the stripped
stem for easier placement into the template.
Burn the exposed portion of the feather over a flame, when cool use
a paintbrush to remove any soot.
Centering the feather carefully in the template is important, note the burnt wing
on the left. The correct wing is on the right.
If you are planning to tie a number of Mayflies, you can burn
your wings ahead of time. Since learning how to do burnt
wings, I use this procedure for all of my Mayfly patterns.
Please check out the Fly Tying Section, on the Bulletin Board, here at FAOL too.
If you have any questions, tips, or techniques; send them to