Emergers, Emergers, Emergers
Ah, this is the time of year I look forward every fishing season! For it is late May, June and early July when many of the blue-winged olives appear throughout the country. Whether it’s the blue-winged cornuta, cornutella or lata in the East and Midwest or the blue-winged flav(flavilinea) in the West you can experience some great hatches at this time of the year. Prepare for these hatches with plenty of Blue-Winged Olive dry flies in sizes 14 and 16.
But, there is also another pattern you want to use to fish this hatch—the Totally Pheasant Tail Emerger. I call it that because every part of the fly (except of course the thread and the ribbing) is made from part of a pheasant tail. The tail is made from the tips of the pheasant tail fibers. The body is tied from those same fibers, and the thorax or collar from the short fizzy feathers at the bottom of the shaft.
What part of the pheasant tail I do you use? For the regular Pheasant Tail Nymph I use several barbules of medium to dark brown for the tail, body and hackle of the pattern. For the Blue-Winged Emerger I use much darker barbules. Select those fibers that are almost black. I use the soft fibers from the bottom of the tail feather near the shaft.
Why does the Totally Pheasant Tail Emerger work? First, use the barbukles on the inner vane to get the black tail and body. This section copies the nymph almost perfectly. The soft light gray aftershaft like feather from the same tail feather, when dubbed, copies the dun emerging out of its nymphal shuck. The olive head on the fly suggests and olive mayfly ready to appear out of the nymphal shuck.
The beauty of this emerger pattern and the natural is that both are often extremely effective during the midday hours—often a time when few patterns work. This pattern has produced some heavy midday trout for me on a variety of streams and rivers across the United States. I have hit great hatches of blue-winged olives on the Beaverkill and Delaware Rivers in New York. Some of the open waters on Pocono streams like the Brodhead and McMichaels Creeks in Pennsylvania streams harbor great hatches. In the West, Oregon’s Metolius River and Idaho’s Henry’s Fork host great blue-winged hatches.
In How to Catch More Trout< I suggest that getting the pattern at the correct depth can be critical. The TPT is no different. With emerger patterns anglers most often fish them near the surface. I have had a lot of success with the TPT patterns near the bottom. Yes, you read it correctly--in high water I have had a lot of success near the bottom---especially when I encounter deep fast water. I often add 20 wraps of .010 lead on the shank to some of my TPT patterns to make them sink rapidly. Tie the TPT a foot or two behind the dry fly. If that doesn’t work go deeper. If you encounter high runoff, add additional weight and fish with a strike indicator of your choice.
Try this deadly pattern. With a few alterations this TPT can be used for practically every hatch you encounter. Change the body color of the nymph to want to match and the thread at the front to match the general coloration of the dun and you’ll have an effective pattern.
Tie TPT patterns for your favorite hatch. If you copy the light cahill try a black pheasant tail body and pale yellow thread at the head. You can tie the burrowers (all the drakes) entirely from the light gray aftershaft like feather at the base of the pheasant tail, add a white, cream or yellow head and you have a great drake emerger.
Dressing: Totally Pheasant Tail Emerger (Blue-Winged Olive) Hook: Mustad 3906B, sizes 14 and 16
Thread: Dark olive
Tail: Brownish black pheasant tail tips
Body: Brownish black pheasant tail fibers wound around the shank and ribbed with fine gold wire.
Thorax: Soft fuzzy feathers from the lower end of the pheasant tail (similar to aftershaft feathers). Dub these and maker a couple wraps around the hook about ¾ of the way up the shank.
Head: Make the head two times the normal size with the dark olive tying thread.
Look for The Hatches Made Simple at your favorite bookstore or you can click on "Books" on this web site to get you copy. My next book, 101 Innovative Fly Tying Techniques, will be out in January 2003.
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