The Wet/Dry Fly
The Wet/Dry fly is called this because it can be fished either wet or dry. It’s a soft-hackle design with or without a trailing shuck, used to imitate a mayfly emerger in the last part of the emergence process or a cripple or stillborn dun. I’ve caught just as many fish without the shuck as I have with it; so, you pays your money and you takes your choice. Really, this thing is so easy to tie and so deadly that it seems a bit unfair to the fish, but who ever said I wanted to be fair to them?
I typically just use a standard dry fly hook, although if I suspect I might hit a really big fish (as when fishing henry’s Fork), I’ll tie the fly on a nymph hook to take advantage of the stronger wire. The body is dubbed in the color of the adult mayfly, if you add a shuck, just use a small clump of dark tan SST, Z-lon, or other trilobal filament material. The hackle is the key. Use a covert feather from the top of a duck or coot wing. The individual fibers of the feather are wide at the base and taper to a fine point, giving them a bit of body so they will hold the fly on the film very nicely.
Typically I apply a tiny dot of fly flotant to the imitation and fish it right in the surface film. It’s designed for mayflies in the 14 and smaller size range.