One of the best flies for me this summer and fall has been a small, durable and ridiculously easy fly to make. It was the #1 fly during my recent long weekend at the Farmington. When I see BWOs start to pop, this is a fly I put on.
Fish it as a wet fly, dry fly (use Frog’s Fanny since regular floatant will gum up the CDC feathers), or as part of a tandem nymph rig. If fishing sub-surface, let the fly rise at the end of the drift and be prepared for a very strong strike.
Last weekend, I caught quite a few browns and salmon parr with this fly. I’d crouch down and slowly position myself to be slightly above the last rock at the end of a run. In that cushion of soft-water in front of the rock, fish are nearly always there. And, when they see this CDC soft hackle rise in front of them, they often instinctively strike. Pocket water is loaded with these cushions and it’s a great use case for tightline nymphing.
Why takes on the rise? Well, BWOs are pretty aggressive swimmers and rise quickly to the surface when emerging. Many, many times, trout will not take this fly on a dead drift. They’ll wait for movement. I’ve seen this countless times at many rivers throughout New England. It’s fun to feel such an aggressive strike.
This has been a very effective fly. But, tie it small. I make it in a size 20.
Hook: Tiemco 2488H size 20. This is a heavy-wire hook with a 3x gape. The gape is important for better hooking power for such a small fly. I’ve had plenty of fish pop off when fishing a standard-gape small hook.
Thread Body: UTC 70 denier, olive-brown.
Wire: Extra small in black, copper or gold. I’ve found that segmentation is an important strike trigger at most rivers.
Hackle: Dark dun CDC feather. This material works really well. My theory is that the feathers give great movement under water and will trap some air bubbles, too. Emerging nymphs generate an air bubble to rise to the top, and so, I’m guessing this is a strike trigger.
Varnish: Loon UV Finish Flow.
Pinch down the barb. It’s much easier to remove the fly from a fish.
Put on a thin thread underbody. Attach the wire and bring the thread forward.
Wrap the wire forward to add segmentation.
Sometimes, I add Loon UV Finish Flow to the body. This adds a subtle glow to the fly and hardens it.
Now the tricky part. Spin counter clockwise the thread to flatten it. Split it with a bobbin, put in a CDC feather and carefully cut off the fibers from the feather’s base. Cut off maybe 1″ from the feather, for you don’t need that much.
Spin the bobbin clockwise to rope the CDC into the thread. It’s a quick way to spin feather fibers without creating a dubbing loop. Then, stroke back the CDC feathers while you wind the thread behind the hook eye to create a sparse soft hackle. Two or three turns are enough.
Whip finish. Add a very small drop of UV Finish Flow to the whip finish knot to seal it. Run an old feather stem through the hook eye to make sure it is clear. Hit it with a UV light for a few seconds, and you’re good to go.
I just tied up some using leftover marabou feather fibers. I suspect they’ll work as well as CDC.