Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Double Wing Fly - Gary LaFontaine

“Imitation is creative laziness”
- Gary LaFontaine

We all fall into ruts, laziness, re-reading the same book over and over again, not really learning anything new and becoming narrow.  Instead of appreciating each outing on the river as something new or even a small adventure, we fish the same flies year after year, match the hatch when fish are rising, and fishing the same nymphs as last week, and the week before.  There is nothing really wrong with that, it just seems to me that it is a paint by number Mona Lisa compared to Wheat Field with Cypresses.

To give us a hand out of the rut we need someone with radically different views, someone who forces us to look at life, or fly fishing, differently.  In my mind, LaFontaine's The Dry Fly is such a work.  In it he theorizes on flies and fisherman, grasshoppers and states of mind.  And in it he shares his design process of the Double Wing fly.

The Double Wing fly takes his color theory and mixes it with no preconceptions of what an attractor fly should look like.  His color theory, in short, is that the ambient light around the trout stream affects fly's color intensity, and trout are attracted to "more intense" colors.   A green ambient light will make any green color more intense and red color (red is complementary to green) dull.  So when selecting an attractor dry fly, match the ambient light.  Said another way, select your fly only if it harmonizes with the frequency of the universe.  Maybe not.

For the form of the fly, he used trial and error to see what attracted trout most strongly.  And by "see" I mean using diving gear and watching the fly float over trout and observing their reaction.  For example, he saw that a "tip" (which is hardly used outside of salmon flies) was highly effective compared to "no tip" and incorporated it into the finished fly.  In the end of the process, he came up with 11 color variations to match different ambient light.    

My notes:
In big sky country, Western fisherman can change the fly to match the light, moving from warm colors like orange at sunrise/sunset pink in the morning/late afternoon, and lime double wing at midday.  For us in east, the color selection is a bit less interesting.  My home streams are all under a canopy of leaves with banks of lush green ferns and cabbage, so the ambient color is almost always green when it is sunny, so lime/green/yellow is a good color.  On overcast days...gray, and in the fall when the leaves turn to orange and brown, try the warm colored orange.

Also, these down white wing, flush floating attractors were tied for broken water.  If your stream is not as turbulent, an upright white wing variation should be a stronger attractor.  

Three color variations follow for reference.

Pink Lady Double Wing:
Tail: pink sparkle yarn
Tip: white floss
Rear Wing: gray elk hair
Body Hackle: dark ginger (palmered; clipped flat top and bottom)
Body: pink sparkle yarn (dubbed rough)
Front Wing: white kip tail
Hackle: dark ginger
Warm colors, early morning late afternoon

Orange Double Wing:
Tail: burnt orange sparkle yarn
Tip: white floss
Rear Wing: brown elk hair
Body Hackle: brown (palmered; clipped flat top and bottom)
Body: burnt orange sparkle yarn (dubbed rough)
Front Wing: white kip tail
Hackle: grizzly
Sunrise, sunset, also during Autumn

Royal Double Wing:
Tail: green sparkle yarn
Tip: red floss
Rear Wing: brown elk hair
Body Hackle: coachman brown (palmered; clipped flat top and bottom)
Body: peacock herl
Front Wing: white kip tail
Hackle: coachman brown
All around attractor; half-bright under most conditions