Fly Tying · Tips and Tricks

Fly tying tips and tricks: “Taking the fear out of working with ‘Reel Wings'”

A few years ago I picked up a package of Reel Wings at Dette Trout Flies and while I was super excited to use them once arriving home; I found that I broke more of them than I was able to use properly😢

The Old packaging for Reel Wings

 I tried and tried again, but after becoming frustrated, I put the few that I had left in the drawer, and honestly.. like many other materials before them.. I they were forgotten about.

Until I was made aware that they had revamped the packaging and material; for ease of use and durability!😍

So If you were like me and others who had trouble getting the hang of this material in the past; have no fear! Take a look at this step by step, and the improvements made, and I’m sure you will be running to the shop to pick some up, and wont be afraid to use up the old ones as well.

Reel wings give a life to your flies wings like no other material can, and they are easy to cast.

Rusty Spinner
Rusty Spinner

“In with the new”

The wings are now secured to the paper with a very light adhesive and are less apt to be crushed in the bottom of a drawer since they are no longer free falling around a bag.


Now with new packaging and easier to handle materials!

How to remove them from the package:

Using a bodkin will help speed up the removal process without damaging them by using your fingers to tear them off.

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The also have a tiny bit of adhesive on them it seems and this will keep them sticking to your bodkin, just long enough to tie them to your fly.
They will jut hang out on your bodkin tip until you're ready.
They will jut hang out on your bodkin tip until you’re ready.

Creating a dubbing loop for security:

Before trying to attach your Reel Wings all by themselves, I recommend you create a dubbing loop and tie it off on the TOP of your fly. Position it towards the back end of the body, where you will want the rear of the wings to rest.

Create a dubbing loop
Create a dubbing loop
Tie the loop off on the top.

Yes yes.. i know the waste ends of the biot are all out of whack but I trimmed them after.

Preparing the wing cut:

Look for the "slice"
When you look closely at your reel wings, you will see that the middle of the wing has a tiny line.
Take your scissors and cut a small triangle out of it, it doesn’t have to be perfect because you will be re-positioning these wings under the thread loop.

Securing the reel wings:

Remove your wings from the bodkin and place them over the body of your fly. Keep in mind they will be adjusted and pulled back a little bit later.

Remove your wings from the bodkin and place them over the body of your fly.

Once you have the wings in position you will pull that thread loop over the wings and loop it around the hook eye temporarily.

From this position you can safely (but carefully) fine tune the wing placement.

Once you are happy with the placement, take a few thread wraps over the empty dubbing loop that you used to temporarily hold down the wings, but dont cut it off yet.

Compacting the inner wing:

 With the wings placed, you will now take that empty dubbing loop and gently pull it BACK over top of the fly.

Pull the dubbing loop back towards the bend.

By doing this you are compacting that inner wing material and moving it away from the eye. Pull it back and bring your bobbin under the hook and up BEHIND the wings now before tying off that loop again.

*If you find that the wings twist a little, just gently straighten them out.*

Gently pull back on the threaded loop to compact the wing material before taking a few wraps with your bobbin to tie it down.
Snip off the ends of the threaded loop.
Snip off the ends of the threaded loop.

Finish up your pattern, and once completed, you can use your fingers to gently smooth out any kinks from gripping them too tight.

I mean it.. (Do it GENTLY! Because you will rip one off) I know.. I have one winged spinners in a box right now.

*Tips for dubbing around real wings*

“Less is more”

The motto when dubbing flies is “Less is more” since you can always add more. This statement has never been truer, than when it comes to wrapping dubbing around these wings.

Create a THIN dubbing noodle

Thin dubbing loop.. light steady pressure..


As you can see here I purposely put on too much dubbing and use too much pressure to demonstrate what happens when you do, and immediately the wings have begun to turn under .

If that happens just back track, readjust the wings carefully and use less dubbing tighter to the thread.

This little bit of dubbing here is plenty to work with at a time.
This little bit of dubbing here is plenty to work with at a time.

Finish your fly, sit back with that cold cup of coffee filled with deer hair..😑  and take a look at what you have accomplished! Ok.. so It may not be perfect, but it’s a starting point if you are someone who has never used this material before. So grab another hook, wing set and Have fun with it!

Almost done
Almost done

Reel Wings are an excellent material to you use once you get the hang of them and I hope some of these tips will help you conquer any fears you may have had in the past!

.. this one had a rough night!

Happy Tying!


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