Turkey Day and Some Flies

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The most recent fly swap over at PAFlyFish is a soft hackle theme, so I’ve been working to twist up my batch of flies.  I decided on a flymph pattern, and here is the recipe:

Hook : #12 wet fly/nymph hook
Thread : 8/0 UNI – brown
Tail : Pheasant tail
Body : Slate drake dubbing spun in a loop and picked out
Rib : Gold wire
Wing : Brown hen


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.

Al’s Rat SBS

Another Al Miller original, the Al’s Rat is easily one of the most effective midge pupa immitations out there.  Just like Al’s Trico, the key to this pattern lies in it’s simplicity…you only need three things to tie it.  Hook, thread, and a pinch of dubbing.  Simple enough?

The only change that I make to the pattern is that I like to use curved scud hooks.  The original pattern, as tied by Mr. Miller, used standard straight shank hooks.  Either way will work.  I just think the curved shank looks a little bit buggier.

Al’s Rat

Hook: #20 scud

Thread: 8/0 Brown UNI

Thorax: Muskrat underfur (any dubbing will work)

Step 1:  Secure the hook in your vice and pinch the barb if desired.

Step 2: Starting at mid-shank, begin wrapping the thread forward.  Stop just short of the hook eye.

Step 3: Wrap the thread back towards the bend of the shank, clipping the thread’s tag end as you secure the first wraps.  Stop just past the bend of the hook.

Step 4: Wrap back up to where we stopped earlier, leaving some space behind the eye.  Notice that by starting the thread and initially wrapping forward, this creates a natural taper in the body of the fly.

Step 5:  Take a pinch of muskrat underfur and dub the thread.

Step 6: Wrap to form a small thorax with the dubbing.

Step 7: Form a tiny head, whip finish, and dot with head cement.

Step 8: Go Fishing.