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.