But don't get me wrong, a pristinely tied wet fly is certainly a work of art,
and I can respect that. It's just not something I generally aspire to in my own tying, is all...
The "working wet flies" used by most fly fishers were empty of overly and excessively neatly formed, "patent leather shine" heads (now crafted with contemporary acrylic cements--and not Spar Varnish or Shellacs of the past).It would give a novice tier a realistic reference for what they should be shooting for,
when they try and emulate what they see in a book. Set that bar too high,
and it could turn a lot of "tie-curious" folks off... (my opinion)
The hard, ineluctable fact is that examples of wet flies coined as "classics" maybe "classic" in "pattern"..but have no relationship at all to "appearance" of the wet flies used on-stream.The day to day use flies. Corlay can chime in---but I think that was his valid point.
So, what was a "classic" wet used on at least our Catskill waters--40-60 years ago? I pulled some from my collection. All are pre-1972---some going back to 1940. From a variety of tiers--some famous, some not.
Here's a Harry Darbee Wet. Pretty nice really--amazing since Elsie did most of the wets. Notice the wing length. And notice it doesn't stop at the hook bend.
Here's one of Elsie's
Walt's example (although I've over fished it! Notice the characteristic Dette brown head. Notice the hook length. Not a short shank at all (like the 3906's modern guys swear by as "Classic"). Walt didn't tie a lot of wets, but he tied this one.
This is an "alleged" Ray Bergman, given to me by the late Bill Parvin--a former Wall St. guy. Certainly not the shadow-box appearance that followers of his craft now showcase (based on a liberal interpretation of the illustrator). It appears the floss has faded?
This is an "alleged" Harry Wall wet, also given to me by Parvin. You'll notice the very low set wing. Regardless of what you may hear or read, low profile wingings, somewhat covering the body, were very common wet fly styles. Also, notice the head--large and functional---no resemblance to modern interpretations deemed "classic"
Not sure who gave me this one. Can't recall--and I have no label. But the interesting thing is the Turle Knot space--on a wet fly. Maybe that's why I grabbed it. Many contemporary wet fly tiers might scoff at the fly. Certainly not a work of art---but a "classic", indeed
Look at this one. This was a "working" fly--and probably caught trout.