Blue Winged Olive SBS

Now that fall is here, I thought I would dedicate a post to my favorite pattern for the overcast, drizzly days when blue winged olives start showing up again.  I’ll start off by saying that the inspiration came from the Better-Winged Olive post on Global Flyfisher.  But since the original pattern called from a few materials I didn’t have, I simplified it and made it work with what I did have…hackle, dubbing, and thread.

It’s a versatile pattern because it can pass for both a dun or a spinner, depending on the situation.  And while it’s simple, there are two key features of the pattern.  The first is the thorax, which is loosely dubbed to suggest the bulk of the natural duns.  The second is the trimming of the hackle.  This helps the fly ride lower in the film, imitating both the natural BWO, and almost any mayfly spinner, for that matter.

This being said, this pattern can be modified to match nearly any dry fly scenario.  Just substitute a larger or smaller hook, change the tail and hackle color, and you’re covered for essentially any hatch.  But to stay on track…when I am fishing a BWO hatch, I’ve had my best luck tossing a #20 to represent the smaller baetis variety. For the larger drunella lata, I would suggest a #14 or #16.


Hook : # 14-22 dry fly

Thread : 8/0 UNI

Tail : Dun hackle

Body : Olive Orvis blended fur dubbing

Wing : Dun Hackle, underside trimmed flat

Step 1: Secure hook in vise and pinch barb if desired.

Step 2 : Wrap thread back to the hook bend.

Step 3 : Measure hackle fibers to one hook length and tie in at the bend.

Step 4 : Dub a tapered body.

Step 5 : Tie in hackle and loosely dub a buggy-looking thorax.  This loose dubbing will add some lifelike bulk to the front end of the fly, while leaving some space to wrap the hackle forward.

Step 6 : Liberally wrap your hackle forward to create a thick, buoyant wing.

Step 7 : Build a small head, whip finish, and dot with head cement.  You’re almost done.

Step 8 : With your scissors, clip the underside of the wing, just above the hook point.  This will let the fly ride low in the current.

My largest wild trout of the year came on this pattern on Valley Creek during a warm day in March.  Hopefully, it will produce for you as well.