Intermediate Fly Tying: Fan Wing Queen of The Waters - Darrell Howard

Queen of the Waters Fan Wing by Darrell Howard, Herts FDG

The Queen of the Waters is a pattern that dates back to the 19th Century. Mentioned many times in Mary Orvis Marbury's book Favourite Flies and their Histories, there are many styles to this pattern; a Feather Wing Streamer, a Bucktail Streamer (possibly two variations), several variations of the Wet fly, a Dry fly and this Fan Wing Dry.

The original Queen of the Waters wet fly is credited to Scottish Professors John Wilson (“Christopher North”) and his brother James Wilson, and it is considered they created it around 1820.

Although I can find very little specific information about the fan wing version of the Queen of the Waters, it is mentioned in the famous London tackle dealers Ogden Smith's catalogue dated 1911 where it was listed under "American Dry Flies", and in Eric Leiser's 1987 book The Book of Fly Patterns. So although I cannot confirm the age of this pattern, it must be remembered that the taking of wet patterns and turning them into other styles has been common place for a great number of years.

One thing to note is that the rib is wound first and then the palmered hackle follows behind, touching (as close as possible) the rib. This method of ribbing dates back to at least the early 19th Century.

Darrell Howard - Herts Branch Flydressers Guild

Tying the Fan Wing Queen of the Waters

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  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 1
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 2
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 3
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 4
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 5
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 6
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 7
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 8
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 9
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 10
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 11
  • Queen of the Waters Wet Fly by Darrell Howard - Step 12
  • Queen of the Waters Fan Wing - Step by Step Instructions:
  • Step 1: Whip on thread, wind to 1/3 hook shank to position Wings.
  • Step 2: Choose two Mallard Flank feathers, strip off the fluff, measure the length (height) of the feather to match the length of the shank.
  • Step 3: Hold wings upright and pull stems back underneath the hook shank and with a flattened thread tie down with smooth thread wraps.
  • Step 4: Tie in tail, the length should be the length of the shank including the eye (but not the bend). Tie in wire rib on back side of shank.
  • Step 5:  Tie in a short length (two inches is sufficient) of floss on top of the shank to be used as a 'Floss Keeper'. This is used to stop the floss falling off the back of the hook.
  • Step 6: Tie in hackle by the tip. You can use a feather that has had one side stripped of barbs or if you want a fuller look, fold back both sides of the feather. The barb length should be approximately the size of the gape of the hook.
  • Step 7: Flattern the thread and wind it smoothly to the wings, tie in two strands of floss.
  • Step 8: Wind floss to the tail and back towards the wing. After 2 or 3 turns on the return winding, pull the floss keeper over and tie in with the floss (no photo I only have two hands and just hanging onto the floss is awkward enough!). Continue winding the floss to the wings. Depending upon how smooth a finish you want to the body, you can now burnish the floss with a very smooth implement such as an Agate Burnisher or similar to remove any small imperfections. This photo shows non-burnished, step nine shows a lightly burnished body. Burnishing will not correct a poorly-tied floss body, it is intended for final "polishing" to turn a good floss body into a great one!
  • Step 9: Wind the rib in five even wound open turns. Five turns is the tradition number on most classic eastern wet flies.
  • Step 10: Wind the palmered hackle behind the wire rib, try to make the stem touch the rib, again from tradition, ribs were not counter-wound. Wind the white thread to the eye forming a smooth base for the collar hackle. Tie in Black thread, unwind & flatten then wind back to the wings.
  • Step 11: Tie in either the first of two short hackles for the collar or if using a genetic hackle with the correct barb length you'll probably only need one. The barb length should be approximately 1.5 times the gape of the hook. If an imaginary line is drawn from the tip of the tail through the bottom of the bend of the hook, it should continue to the bottom of the collar hackle. Wind in tight touching turns to form the collar.
  • Step 12: Here, a second hackle has been tied in and wound in tight touching turns to an eye-width behind the eye where the head is tied small and varnished.