Every fly angler who’s ever cast to a persnickety trout knows you can never have too many mayfly patterns, so here’s a proven performer just in case you find yourself at your bench this weekend.
Morris May Light Recipe (by Skip Morris)
HOOK: Light wire standard length to 1X long, sizes 20 to 10.
THREAD: Tan 8/0.
TAIL-SHUCK: Tan Anton yarn (or any shiny yarn).
ABDOMEN: Buoyant tan dubbing (Superfine Dry Fly, Fly-Rite poly dubbing…).
WING: Gray poly yarn.
HACKLE: One, ginger or barred ginger.
THORAX: The same dubbing as in the abdomen.
- Start the thread about three quarters up the shank. Bind a thin section of shuck-yarn atop the shank; bind the yarn down the shank to the bend. Trim off the front stub-end of the yarn. (Or make split hackle-fiber tails around a tight ball of thread-turns at the bend.)
- Dub a slim, slightly tapered abdomen from the bend to slightly past halfway up the shank.
- Double a thin section of poly yarn over the thread, slide the loop of yarn down atop the shank directly in front of the abdomen, and bind it tightly with a few tight turns of thread.
- Draw the ends of the yarn up and work a few turns of thread around the base of the yarn to gather the ends together. Give the yarn a hard push at its base to angle the yarn back.
- Use your hackle gauge to find a hackle of proper size for your hook. Strip the soft and overlong fibers from the base of the stem. Bind the hackle, by its bare stem, in front of the wing. Trim off the butt of the stem.
- Dub a rough, full thorax to just short of the hook’s eye.
- Spiral the hackle in four to six turns over the dubbed thorax to the eye. Build a tapered thread head, whip finish and cut the thread.
- Draw back the wing yarn, and then snip it to a squared end to a bit longer than the length of the shank. Trim the shuck-yarn. Trim the hackle fibres off beneath the thorax, either to flat or to angle down in a shallow “V.” Add head cement.
One of the deepest philosophical questions in fly fishing: Can a fly-angler’s box contain too many Chernobyl patterns. Just in case you fall on the “it’s not possible” side of the debate, here’s the recipe for the juicy looking Beavertail Chernobyl.
Beavertail Chernobyl Recipe:
Hook:Dai-Riki 730, #8
Thread: Uni-Thread, 6/0 yellow
Adhesive: Liquid Krazy Glue, applied to thread base
Underbody: Beavertail Chernobyl tan (River Road Creations cutter)
Underbody: Large black Krystal flash chenille tied only under the middle body segment
Overbody: Beavertail Chernobyl tan (River Road Creations cutter)
Legs: Montana Fly Company Centipede Legs, orange/black
Posts: White polypropylene
Jake Ruthven is a talented young tier out of Colorado and has developed a creative take on the Zoo Cougar. If you’re looking to stock up your streamer box this winter in preparation for estuary fishing for sea-run trout in the spring, be sure to give this innovative pattern a try.
Zoo Cougar Recipe:
Hook: TMC 9395
Thread: UTC Gel Spun
Body: Flat Diamond Braid
Underwing: Faux Bucktail
Overwing: Mallard flank feather
Collar: Faux bucktail
Head: Chocklett’s body tubing
Eyes: Flymen Living Eyes
- Start your thread and trim the tag end, then move it to the rear of the hook. Tie in a single piece of marabou as long as the shank of the hook. Trim the excess.
- Return the thread to the rear of the hook and tie in the flat Diamond Braid at the base of the tail. Wrap it forward in touching turns to approximately the 60% point on the shank. Tie off and trim excess.
- Trim a thick clump of Faux Bucktail from the package. Use a hair stacker to even the tips, and tie it in on top of the shank, directly above where the diamond braid ends. Trim the ends at a 45-degree angle to assist with building a taper.
- Tie in a single mallard flank feather on top of the bucktail so it extends to the end of the tail. Trim excess.
- Trim off a piece of Chocklett’s body tubing about an inch long. Singe the ends with a lighter. Slide one end over the eye, and secure it.
- Fold the free end of the material back over itself so that it covers the body of the fly.
- Pull it forward, and secure the other end in the same spot as the first end. This will form a small cone. Now, tie in a small clump of Faux Bucktail so it extends one-third the length of the mallard flank. Whip finish.
- Fold the cone rearwards to form the bullet head. Add eyes using your favourite epoxy.
Not much for dressing up and heading out on the town? You might want to consider celebrating Halloween night by hunkering down in your den and tying Reece’s Masked Bandit. It’s a small steamer that’s super attractive to big trout. Check out the tying video here.
Hook: Gamakatsu octopus #4
Thread: 6/0 matched to zonker
Flash: Ripple Ice Fiber (Hareline)
Tail: Pine squirrel zonker
Collar: Pine squirrel zonker
Head: Flymen Fish Mask w/ Living Eyes – Earth
The Royal Vulture, originally featured in volume 9 issue 4 of Fly Fusion. Tied by our good friend Colin Callbeck.
Royal Vulture Recipe
Hook: Partridge 3/0 Bartlet blind eye
Eye: silk gut
Thread: black silk
Tag: purple metallic tinsel, blue floss, silver oval tinsel, purple floss, silver metallic tinsel, yellow floss, blue floss with silver metallic over yellow and blue floss
Tail: king fisher wing feather
Butt: purple ostrich
Body: blue floss, silver metallic tinsel, pink floss, silver metallic tinsel over blue floss, pink floss, silver metallic tinsel, blue floss, silver flat tinsel, black floss, silver flat tinsel
Throat: vulture guinea fowl back feather under blue vulture guinea fowl back feather
Wing: vulture guinea fowl back feather under spotted vulture guinea fowl feather
Cheek: king fisher wing feather
Topping: wild golden pheasant crest
Horns: blue eared pheasant
Head: purple ostrich feather
by Dana Sturn (photo Aaron Goodis)
When it comes to fly tying, I’m pretty lazy, and get bored quickly. A good tying session might yield three or four flies; rarely do I tie a half-dozen at one sitting. So my version of the Micro GP is an exercise in economy: What’s the minimum in materials and steps to get the job done but still produce the most effective fly?
I tie this on a ¼-inch to ½-inch tube cut from lengths of 1/8-inch outside diameter air brake line. When fishing, I insert a Daiichi 2451 #6 or #8 hook into the back of the tube. Using the air brake line eliminates the need for a hook holder on the tube, so that saves a step. Tubes also allow me to use one fly with multiple hooks—if a hook gets dull or damaged, I just replace it. So ½ dozen Micro GPs can easily get me through a week of fishing. I’ve also eliminated the ribbing by using sparkle dubbing. The fly is small, so it only needs one tying station for the wing. The Krystal Flash is optional. I like it because it seems to work really well if used in moderation, but I’ve also had success without it, so eliminating it would save another few steps. The two-tone wing is something I’ve kept from the original RaginG Prawn, but you could get away with just using one colour – again, saving a step.
Micro GP Recipe
Thread: Hot orange or red 6/0
Tail: A few strands of hot orange polar bear or bucktail mixed with a few strands of pearlescent Krystal Flash
Feelers: Black and white barred peccary extending well away from the hook bend. If you can’t find peccary, try black and white barred rubber legs
Eyes: Golden pheasant tippet. Rather than cut a notch out of a section of tippet, I snip a few of the black-tipped fibers and tie them in on each side. For the Micro GP this material would be optional.
Body: Hot orange sparkle dubbing
Wing: Fire orange Woolly Bugger marabou over fluorescent orange Woolly Bugger marabou. I also mix in a few strands of pearlescent Krystal Flash. I layer this wing with one colour on top of the other but you could mix them together and tie them in as one mixed piece as well.
Hackle: A sparse turn or two of pheasant or brown saddle at the head.
The Catatonic Leech
Regular contributor and innovative tier Jeremy Davies says, “This might be the easiest fly I have ever tied except for the San Juan Wire Worm, and on lakes it is one of the most effective flies to fish. The standard Catatonic Leech is tied almost entirely of marabou (my preference is Wapsi Woolly Bugger Marabou, as it is fluffier and more lifelike than standard blood quill marabou), with a few wraps of lead and an optional glass bead. I tie this fly with olive marabou about 90% of the time, and use black, brown, wine, or white on occasion. The hook is a 3X long streamer hook in #6 to #12 with a glass or brass bead behind the eye. Four or five wraps of .020 or .025 lead wire immediately behind the bead help the fly flutter lightly as it sinks to the bottom. The tail should be about three quarters as long as the hook shank. Tails that are too long cost you hook-ups because the trout grab the tail but miss the hook. Tying the body out of marabou is easy. Strip the marabou off the main quill and dub it to the thread like regular dubbing.”
Hook: Streamer hook, size 8-14
Weight: Four or five wraps of lead wire
Thread: 8/0 Uni-Thread (olive, black, or brown)
Bead: Glass (colour to match body)
Body: Dubbed marabou (olive, black, or brown)
Tail: Marabou (olive, black, or brown)
Regular Fly Fusion contributor and innovative tier, Jeremy Davies, is always searching for ways to develop new patterns using synthetic materials. He says, “One style of fly that I use to mimic both standard and October caddis is Jeremy’s High & Dry Caddis, which has an antron wing, foam body, grizzly or brown hackle, and is tied on a light wire scud hook. The standard variety is tied with a tan foam body and a light brown antron wing. The October version is tied on a larger hook (sizes 8 to 12), with an orange foam body, a light brown antron wing and either grizzly or brown hackle. I also tie one to imitate the travelling sedge that we sometimes see in lakes in the spring. It is tied on a 3X-long dry-fly hook in sizes 6 to 10, and unlike other caddis patterns, has three sets of antron wings.”
Jeremy’s High and Dry Caddis by Jeremy Davies
Hook: Light wire scud hook, #10-16
Thread: Black or olive Uni-Thread, 8/0
Body: Cut and tapered foam
Wing: Antron yarn (typically tan or brown)
Hackle: Grizzly or brown
Tail: Black antron yarn (optional)
Looking for a versatile dry-fly pattern to tie during the colder months? The Floating Evil Weevil is a fly that imitates a number of insects trout love to snack on. Jeremy Davies, frequent Fly Fusion contributor says, “One of my favourite parachute patterns is the Floating Evil Weevil because it can be kept high and dry with floatant to represent a mayfly dun or it can be fished on a greased leader to pass as an emerger. It is tied on a light wire scud hook which gives it good hooking power and it can generally mimic any adult mayfly or even other adult insects such as caddis, midges or small stoneflies.”
Floating Evil Weevil by Jeremy Davies
Hook: Light wire scud hook, #10-18
Thread: Olive Uni-thread, 8/0
Body: Light peacock Arizona Dubbing
Thorax: Natural peacock Arizona Dubbing
Post: White foam
Legs: Brown goose biots
Tail: Pheasant tail or black antron yarn
Rib: Black Uni-Thread, 8/0
Here’s a really simple and effective mayfly pattern you can tie in a number of different colours and sizes. Fly Fusion’s fly tying editor, Al Ritt, demonstrates how to tie the Sparkle Dun (BWO).
- Hook: Daiichi 1100 sz 20 through 16
- Shuck: Brown Antron
- Wing: Comparadun Hair
- Body: BWO Superfine Dubbing