My Top Ten Patterns—Nymphs and Wet Flies—Part III

In the last segment we looked at the Bead Head Pheasant Tail and the Turkey Tail nymphs as part of the top ten patterns that I constantly rely upon when there is no hatch on the water. Don’t ever overlook the Turkey Tail nymph when conditions call fro a bit darker nymph pattern. The Turkey Tail is a terrific pattern.

This month we’ll look at a dynamite new pattern called the Brown Caddis Emerger by some and the Bead Head Emerger by me. Just a year ago I stood and talked to a fellow angler while he fished. That angler, Ed Hartt, caught more than 15 trout while we chatted. I’m not kidding Ed put on a fishing clinic. On almost every cast he picked up a trout.

Finally, I had enough. You would have done the same if you were in the same situation. I asked Ed if I could see this pattern he was using. The pattern resembled a Bead Head Pheasant Tail. It had a tail tied form the tips of the pheasant tail. The body of this Bead Head Emerger that Ed had so much success with was tie with pheasant tail fibers and ribbed with fine gold wire. So far it looked like the typical Pheasant Tail nymph. But as I glanced forward a bit, just behind the bead, I saw several turns of dark olive Squirrel Brite. Squirrel Brite is nothing more than squirrel fur with some fine pieces of Krystal Flash material mixed with it. You can obtain the same effect if you use angora or opossum fur and add a few short pieces of Krystal Flash. The combination was deadly. Ed said that Craig Hartman, a top fly caster from central Pennsylvania came up with the pattern and tested it for the past two years. I’m certain those few wraps of olive Squirrel Brite made the difference.

Why is this pattern so effective? That was early June when I watched Ed catch all of those trout I also watched a few blue-winged olives emerge. Blue-winged olives emerge from late May through much of June. They emerge most often mid to late morning and early afternoon. That’s exactly the time Ed dished that pattern. That made sense didn’t it? If you match the emerger then you should have success. On summer evenings a cream colored thorax tied on the pattern should catch trout. In the spring and fall a gray thorax should work. A Bead Head Emerger with a tan thorax (pictured above) should work well in spring and summer. I have tied the pattern with gray, tan, cream, and dark brown thoraxes made from Squirrel Brite and all of them have caught plenty of trout. If you have read The Hatches Made Simple then you already know that certain colors of mayflies are common at certain times of the year. Doesn’t it make sense to use these same colors on the Bead Head Emerger according to the predominant color of the mayfly at the time that you are fishing the pattern?

What do you think I did that evening after I arrived home? If you guessed that I headed downstairs to my fly tying room and tied a half dozen of these new patterns in sizes 12 and 14, then you are correct. I made the back two thirds of the body exactly like the Bead Head Pheasant Tail. On the front one third I dubbed and wound in olive Squirrel Brite. I added six wraps of .010 lead to the body to get the pattern deep quickly.

I didn’t have to wait long to see if this variation of the Pheasant Tail worked. The very next morning I headed out early to test the Bead Head Emerger. That size 14 pattern performed as well for me that morning as it had done for Ed the day before.

For years anglers thought that most mayflies emerged near the surface. More recently we have learned that many mayflies, including the blue-winged olives, change from nymph to dun near the bottom. That’s exactly where these patterns should be fished—near the bottom.

Dressing: Bead Head Emerger
Hook: sizes 12 to 20, scud hook

Bead: Copper

Thread: Dark olive

Tail: Pheasant tail fibers

Body: Pheasant tail fibers, ribbed with gold wire

Thorax: Two or three turns of dubbed Squirrel Brite (olive, cream, tan or gray). A tan bodied Bead Head Emerger is pictured above.

Hackle: Pheasant tail fibers

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