Stoneflies, many nymphs and other patterns call for a wing
case consisting of a feather, (usually turkey) to be tied
in and pulled forward over the thorax of the fly. This looks
really great when properly executed, and yields a realistic
looking fly. However, getting the feather from which the
wing case prepared can be a bit time consuming and messy.
It can also be a bit expensive as the most common technique
uses Dave's fleximent, which is thinned to something on the
order of 50%.
Krylon, the maker of those super easy to use and nearly
runless spray paints to the rescue! No, not with spray
paint but with an allied product that they make for artists
to "set" their charcoal paintings. It is available at most
art or craft stores under the name of "Workable Fixatif."
Once sprayed onto a turkey feather for instance, it prevents
the barbules from separating into a mass of fibers each intent
on pointing to a different place in the universe. It is also
as the name implies, "workable" meaning for our purposes
flexible, unlike the thinned Fleximent which tradition
asks us to use.
A large spray can of this material will set you back about
$7.00, but you will probably never buy another. You could
also split it's cost with a friend or club if you want to
get real economy.
To apply it, go to a well-ventilated area, or outside if
the winds are calm. Hold your feather in a Styrofoam block,
forceps or whatever and spray the feather liberally, but
not soaking wet with the "Workable Fixatif" and set aside
I like to buy my wing case materials, several pieces at
a time and spray them all at one application. You can do
as many feathers as you need, or will need for several
years. This material remains flexible as near as I can
In tying it really shines and you will notice the ease
with which the wing cases fold and lie on your flies.
It also holds up as well as any material I have found
when wet and exposed to the mauling we all hope our flies
will receive in the mouth of some leviathan of the stream,
or denizen of the deep!
Good tying, and let me know how this works on your bench.
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along, most of this
material has been stolen from somebody, might as well steal your ideas
too!~ George E. Emanuel
(Chat Room Host Muddler)