For forty-seven years, Fran Betters owned the Adirondack Sports Shop in Wilmington, New York, just across Route 86 from the famed West Branch of the Ausable River. He was a fierce advocate for protecting the West Branch, an ambassador for fly fishing, and a revered fly tier. Two of his original patterns, the Haystack and the Ausable Wulff, were named among Field & Stream’s top 10 trout flies of all time. Betters first tied the Ausable Wulff in 1964, working from Lee Wulff’s famous patterns.
Betters wrote in his book Fran Betters’ Fly Fishing — Fly Tying and Pattern Guide, he wrote:
After years of fishing the Ausable and other Adirondack streams, and after studying numerous insects, I had noticed a particular curiosity relating especially to the large stonefly and mayfly nymphs in the rivers of the Adirondacks. They seemed to have a slight rusty orange coloration in the thorax and some red in the heads of the flies. I thought that this might be characteristic of flies on these streams due to the mineral content of the streambeds.
In this video from Tightline Productions, Tim Flagler offers a masterclass in tying this and all Wulff patterns. Tim’s desire to make every step as efficient and easy as possible—especially the handling of the woodchuck and calftail hair—is evident here, and it makes for a much cleaner, better fly. As with all Tightline videos, this one offers advice that transcends the particular pattern Tim is working on. And if you didn’t listen to Tim’s podcast with Tom Rosenbauer, you’re missing out.
Hook: Dai-Riki 300 dry-fly hook, size 14.
Thread: Fluorescent Orange, 8/0 or 70-denier.
Tail: Woodchuck guard hairs, cleaned and stacked.
Wing: White kiptail (or calftail), cleaned and stacked.
Body: Cinnamon-color Australian possum.
Hackle: Brown and grizzly.
Head: Tying thread and head cement.
10 thoughts on “Video: How to Tie the Ausable Wulff”
Fran Betters had a weekend cookout at his shop twice a year where he would teach folks how to cast and have chats about best practices on the river. It was open to everyone and free. He was very passionate about sharing his love of the sport with others. I was fortunate enough to be able attend one of those cookouts and that is how I grew to love the sport a well.
He was a true champion and advocate of fly fishing.
For the size 16 Ausable Wulff, try some calf body hair instead of calf tail (kip tail). It’s a much straighter fiber and is easier to use and make it look good on smaller flies.
Nice tip. Maybe I’ll try tying it both ways. Thanks.
NIce looking flies! My friend Adam from Scranton,PA introduced me tying a short while ago. Yep, I’m hooked! (Pun intended). I’ll have to give these a try.
Very nice easy tie. Thanks for sharing. Think I may try in a 18.
Thanks for the tutorial and Dan’s comment about the calf hair. I’m looking forward to trying both methods.
Cool little video. Looks like an easy one to tye. I can’t wait to try one out this year.
Nice video on this one. Great quality. Thanks for sorting through videos (probably hundreds or thousands) and posting the great ones here.
Loved going up to the westbranch and stopping in to see a legend.