While what I will show here is probably not the exact pattern for the Wonder Nymph, I think the wingcase technique is what everyone has been “wondering” about and hope that this tutorial will clear up the technique used to create it. This is a great little mayfly nymph pattern, lending itself well to both baetis and PMDs when tied in the appropriate colors. I should mention that a variation of this fly is also called the Bat Wing Emerger, but the technique that we are really after here remains the same.
Hook: TMC 2487 16-22
Thread: 8/0 Gray
Tail: Medium Dun Hen Neck Hackle Fibers
Abdomen: Olive Gray Goose Biot
Wingcase: Fluffy base of medium dun hen neck feather
Thorax: Gray Superfine Dubbing
Start the thread about two eye lengths back from the hook eye and wrap a smooth, thin thread base back to about halfway down the bend of the hook.
Peel about a dozen fibers from a hen neck feather, taking care to keep their tips even. Measure this clump against the hook so it is about a half shank length long.
Tie the tail clump in at the end of the thread base with two firm wraps of thread. Leave the thread hanging here at the bend for the time being.
Lay the tip of a goose biot in at the base of the tail with the ribbed edge on the top. We want to create a smooth body so we want this ribbed edge to lead as we wrap it up the hook. Capture the tip of the feather with a turn or two of thread, and make sure the tip of the biot reaches nearly to the thread starting point. Tying the biot in like this will prevent that fine tip from breaking off and causing you to swear out loud when we wrap it.
Wrap the thread smoothly forward over the biot and the butt ends of the tailing fibers to the starting point,securing them both tightly to the shank.
Clip the butt ends of the tail fibers flush at the front of the thread base and build a slight taper with your thread on the shank.
Place the butt end of the biot in your hackle pliers and begin wrapping it forward on the shank. Be sure to let the back edge of each wrap overlap the front of the previous wrap to maintain the smooth body shown here.
Continue wrapping the biot up to the starting point and tie it off with several firm wraps of thread.
Now select a hen neck feather that has fluffy barbs at its base that are about equal in length to the gap of the hook.
Clip the feather off straight across at the top of the fluffy section. Save the rest of the feather for something with a dun colored soft hackle as the rest of the feather is still perfectly useable.
Trim the barbs on each side of the remaining tip of the feather close to the stem as shown here.
Tie this trimmed tip in on top of the biot tie off at the 75% point. Make sure the inside of the feather is facing up, that is; the feather should be curving up slightly. Also make sure not to bind down any of those fluffy fibers by securing only the trimmed portion of the feather to the shank.
Detail of wingcase tie in…is this making sense now?
Dub a small oval shaped thorax leaving an eye length or two of bare space in front of the thorax and behind the hook eye.
Fold the hen feather forward over the thorax, taking care to keep the stem centered across the top.
Press the thumb of your material hand down on top of the wingcase to hold it in place while you carefully make a couple wraps of thread securing it behind the hook eye. Be careful not to bind down any of the fluffy fibers with this tie down. It helps to try to work the thread in between the fibers as you wrap.
Wingcase tie down, side view. Note that there are no bound down fibers here.
Wincase tie down, top view. Note here that the stem of the feather is centered across the top of the thorax.
Clip the excess hen feather butt as close as you can to the hook. Build a smooth thread head over the butt ends and whip finish the thread.