There’s no shortage of fly pattern tutorial videos these days. Many of them are an impressive display of the fly tyer’s art, but one has to wonder if some of them actually catch fish. I get on a creative streak from time to time, whipping up experimental patterns that look great but most of them end up in a junk fly bin on my desk. That said, I’ve come to appreciate a few characteristics; simplicity, durability, and patterns that suggest the natural, rather than exact replicas. Like many of you, my most productive patterns also happen to be some of the quickest and easiest to tie.
Fly tying extends the sport of fly fishing beyond the water and it quickly becomes a separate hobby. I sometimes enjoy tying as much as fishing. I particularly enjoy filling fly boxes, but as time goes on, I fill them with multiple sizes and variations of fewer patterns that I’ve come to trust. Where the two hobbies overlap lies the the world of simple and effective fly patterns. This is where time at the bench and time on the water compliment each other best. I can imagine how a newcomer can be overwhelmed by the multitude of online tutorial videos and I can appreciate how easy it is to waste time and money.
One tyer that’s earned my trust is Rich Strolis. Particularly if you fish in the northeast, you can fish his patterns with confidence. If you’re a new tyer, I would recommend you review his content regularly. In fact, you can find patterns to take you through the whole year. His Shucked-Up Emerger is one that I’d like to highlight.
This versatile pattern can be easily adapted to match anything from March Browns to baetis and little blue winged olives, simply by changing the hook size, thread and dubbing. Play with snowshoe rabbit colors for the wing, but among the variables, keep the Orangutan Ice Fur shuck as a constant. The rabbit fur floats like a cork, dries easily, and I find it easier to work with than deer hair. I had one that lasted through a few weeks of multiple-fish outings during the Hendrickson hatch this year. How’s that for durability? It works great as a single dry fly or suspender for a trailing nymph, fished either traditionally or on a tight line euro-style leader. Tied as an Isonychia / Slate Drake emerger, it makes a great searching pattern and general-use suspender dry for nymph fishing throughout the summer.
Klinkhammer hook – sized to match the natural
Thread: UTC 140 or equivalent for larger sizes. UTC 70 or equivalent for smaller. Pick a color appropriate for the hatch (rusty brown for Hendrickson, Cream for March Brows / Cahills, Yellow for Sulphurs, etc.) – it bleeds through the shuck.
Shuck: Hareline Ice Fur – Rusty Orangutan
Thorax: Ostrich Herl
Legs: Brahma hen (omit on smaller sizes)
Wing: Snowshoe Rabbit Foot – Light / Dark Dun or Cream
Dubbing: Delaware River Club or Superfine – use color appropriate for the hatch.
Rich has a fly tying tutorial and materials list here.
You can also order them tied by Rich directly on his website.