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Author Topic: What's in my Flybox 8 The Grey Wulff and Royal Wulff  (Read 1305 times)


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What's in my Flybox 8 The Grey Wulff and Royal Wulff
« on: August 05, 2020, 08:36:42 AM »

Grey Wulff and the Royal Wulff

The Grey Wulff:

Hook: #6 to #16 standard dry fly
Tail: brown bucktail
Body: medium grey dubbing or yarn
Wings: brown Bucktail, elk , calf tail or deer hair
Hackle: 2  grey dun hackles or 1 premium saddle hackle

Lee Wulff originated the Wulff series of dry flies and the Grey Wulff , the first of the series dates to about 1930. It was tied onn a #8 hook to imitate the Isonychia mayflies of the Catskill Mountain streams of New York State. Wulff worked with his friend Dan Bailey to perfect that fly and develop the Royal Wulff. The major innovation was the use of hair for the wing and the tail. This made these flies superior floaters and allowed the use of a large buoyant fly that floated well in the roughest water. To match that Lee and Dan applied far more (about 2x) hackle than was typical of the old school Catskill patterns

The Grey Wulff is one of my favourite stream dry flies. It floats very well and is imitative of mayflies and probably fluttering caddis. The original pattern was tied on a size 8 hook but smaller patterns are often favoured today. In large sizes it can be used for both Atlantic Salmon and steelhead. There are also times when it is effective on lakes. A curious tactic I learned many years ago was to fish a #10 or 12 during damsel hatches. Toss it against reeds or  other structure and then ‘drown’ it with a good pull on the line. A very slow retrieve or a tight line drift then probably suggests drowned damsel instars that fell back in the water as their nymphal shuck splits. It sounds crazy but it can work!

The Royal Wulff

Hook: #6 to #16 standard dry fly
Tail: brown bucktail
Body: peacock herl (butt), red floss or yarn (mid-section) then peacock herl
Wing: white calf tail or bucktail
Hackle: 2 brown neck hackles

Lee and Dan wanted a better dry fly that the delicate Fan Wing Coachmen of the time. Like all the Wulff patterns the Royal Wulff floats well and is durable.

This fly is an outrageous attractor. It looks like nothing that lives but trout often love them. The big white wings make them easy for the angler to see on rough water. Today it is known as being particularly effective for Westslope (Yellowstone) cutthroat.

Today there are about a dozen and a half recognized patterns in the Wulff series mostly orginated by other anglers. There are undoubtedly many more local variations or patterns tied by individual anglers.

Lee Wulff, originally a commercial artist,  went on to become one of the most well known anglers in sport fishing history. He published numerous books, articles and films. He was regularly featured on the TV program “The American Sportsman” (1965 to 1986). With his third wife, Joan, he founded the Wulff fly line and tackle company.
More can be found at:

Dan Bailey was a school teacher in New York. With his wife he opened the first Dan Bailey’s tackle shop on Park Street. They later relocated to Livingston Montana and opened a fly shop of the same name which is still in operation. He is also remembered for his conservation work in the Yellowstone area. The Dan Bailey name has become a line of branded fly tackle and have been known mostly for their quality wading products.

To know more about Dan, have a look at:

« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 04:16:08 PM by RalphH »