by Bob Reece
When discussions surrounding stoneflies arise, images of gargantuan invertebrates come to mind. The large end of the plecopteran spectrum does play a role in the annual feeding cycle of trout. However, the more petite species and developmental stages of stoneflies should not be overlooked.
As nymphs grow, they shed their exoskeletons. These developmental stages are referred to as instars. The number of instars varies among species, from 12 to 23. As a result, there are different sizes of nymphs present during the year in the freestone streams and rivers they inhabit.
In late spring and early summer the increased flows of runoff provide enough energy to detach even the largest nymphs from the rocky substrate. This increased flow is often accompanied by a decline in water clarity. These two factors create an ideal environment for larger-profile nymph patterns. The increased weight of these artificial bugs helps get them to depth in higher flows, while their superior silhouette helps make them more visible. This window of ideal conditions is productive, yet makes up a small part of the annual aquatic food cycle.
Prior to and following runoff, the volume and velocity of the water is lower and the clarity higher. This combination creates a more suitable environment for presenting stonefly nymphs in smaller sizes. While large stonefly nymphs are still present in the substrate, their abundance in the moving water column drops due to the reduction in subsurface velocity. The smaller species and lesser instars are at a greater risk of being stripped from their holds than the big nymphs, due to their smaller size and lesser strength.
It was for this larger window of conditions that I created the Stepchild Stone. I wanted a pattern that would accurately match the structural and behavioural profile of smaller developing stoneflies. The foundation this of this pattern is its behavioural profile. Stonefly nymphs are not effective swimmers, and when knocked free by the current often assume a hunched or curled position. This action reduces their overall surface area and helps expedite their descent back to the stream bottom. The Stepchild Stone is tied on the Gamakatsu C12U hook. The shape of this hook creates a drastically hunched appearance in the fly, mimicking the behaviour of the naturals. In addition, the sturdy construction and wide gap helps to ensure that it hooks and holds fish.
In a further effort to match behavioural traits, I used MFC Sexi Floss for the tail, legs and antennae. The supple flexibility of this material allows it to crawl with life in the water. Its transparency and flat profile provide an accurate imitation of the naturals. That same element of transparency is present in the stretch tubing that is used for the abdomen. Complimenting this is the reflective quality of the Ice Dub used for the thorax. This synthetic dubbing radiates a mottled array of colours that are visible through the transparent wing cases of natural bustard Thin Skin.
While small in size, the Stepchild Stone is not lacking in weight. Its duel tungsten beads provide the mass needed for a rapid descent to the desired depth. Tactical UV Resin overlays the beads and wing cases. The fly’s sink rate is aided by the intentionally thin abdomen which offers less resistance as the fly drops through the water column.
When fishing this pattern I usually use it as the bottom fly in an indicator or tight-line setup. I have also had significant success using it as a dropper below large foam terrestrial patterns in late summer and early fall. Regardless of the application, I always attach the Stepchild Stone with a non-slip loop-knot. This provides exceptional strength and allows the fly to move freely in the current. Click here to watch tying video.
Hook – Firehole Sticks 315 #14-16
Bead – 3MM Round Tungsten
Thread – UTC 70D Black
Body – UTC Ultra Wire Chartreuse & Green
Thorax – Natural Rabbit Dubbing / Ice Dub Black Peacock
Fly Tied by Jake Vanderweyden
Check out all 6 patterns in Jake’s Spring Arsenal by picking up a copy of Fly Fusion today!
Hook: Stealth Hook C Series sizes 8-14
Thread: Semperfli Waxed Thread 8/0 Red
Body: Semperfli waxed thread ribbed with tan ostrich barbules
Bead: Tungsten beads (4) X 3/32 oz and (2) X 1/8 oz
Resin: Semperfli No Tack UV Resin
Tied by Erik Svendsen @SvendDiesel
Throwback to the first season of the Fly Fusion Series with Al Ritt on the vise. Filmed on location at Island Lake Lodge, nestled in the heart of the Rockies in the Kootenay region of British Columbia.
Additional pattern, the Mono-Loop Hopper, from Ryan Sparks’ article in the latest issue of Fly Fusion.
Mono-Loop Hopper Recipe
Hook: Dai-Riki 700B, #10
Thread: UTC 140, dark tan
Mono-loops: 10 lb. monofilament
Body: Superfine Dry Fly Dubbing, tan
Overbody: 2mm foam, tan
Wing: 2mm foam, tan
Overwing: Antron yarn, white
Legs: Barred round rubber legs, yellow/black
Indicator: 2mm foam, orange
Additional pattern, the Mop-Top Beetle, from Ryan Sparks’ article in the latest issue of Fly Fusion.
Hook: Fulling Mill 35025, #8
Thread/Body: Veevus 140, black
Hackle: Grizzly Hackle
Shell: 2mm foam, black
Legs: Medium round rubber legs, black
Indicator: 2mm foam, orange
Post: McFlylon, orange
Size, shape and colour frequently factor into fly-pattern selection. However, there are additional elements that should be considered. Bob Reece’s department in the summer issue of Fly Fusion discusses the wisdom of having translucency and vulnerability represented in your fly box. Among the flies recommended in the article is the Colby Crossland’s Klink Hopper. Pick up a copy of the summer issue of Fly Fusion Magazine on newsstands, in fly shops and available through subscription. Thanks to Bob Reece for article and tying vid!
by Chris Williams
As one who has for years enjoyed fishing the tailwaters and spring creeks of the West, I have become enamoured with the trout’s propensity for keying in on emerging and crippled mayflies. When in this emergent stage, the mayfly is most vulnerable to predatory trout, and the fish soon figure that out.
With this in mind, I have designed most of my dry and emerger patterns from materials that move, are soft, and replicate the profile of a natural insect. Initially I used mostly natural materials such as furs and feathers, but with such a rich abundance of new fly tying materials on the market, some synthetic materials have found their way into my flies.
This pattern is a marriage of natural and synthetic materials to fit a very specific purpose, and it was several years in the making. I wanted to produce a fly that sat trapped in the surface film, but also retained excellent buoyancy, had a very lifelike appearance, and was easily visible. I’ve long been a huge fan of the beautiful spring-creek patterns designed by Idaho’s Rene Harrop. His flies epitomize realism and natural movement. Like Harrop, I have found CDC wings to provide these qualities. However, they always required a great deal of maintenance to keep them afloat. I incorporated a foam wing case to provide a platform for the CDC to sit on to retain better buoyancy. That platform also helps the wing stand upright for better visibility.
But I also wanted the wing case to look as if it were splitting to allow the wing to emerge. This was the most pressing problem in tying the fly. How do I get the wings through a hole in the foam? After a variety of disappointing attempts at both pushing and pulling the wings through the foam, I finally settled on using a small wire threader that’s designed to fit through the eye of the hook. The wire is thin enough to easily push through the hole in the foam without tearing it.
I also decided on a trailing shuck of antron dubbing with a bit of deconstructed Semperfli Glint Nymph for added sheen and softness, and for its realistic, translucent appearance when wet. By “deconstructed,” I mean a strand of Glint Nymph that I’ve scraped between my thumbnail and forefinger until the fibres separate. I then overlay it onto the Antron dubbing that has already been tied in. I’ve never been a huge fan of antron and Zelon shucks that are often preferred by tiers because of their stiffness. The dubbing is much more flexible.
The body material is a turkey biot which mimics the thin, segmented profile of the natural. The thorax is made of natural dubbing. Just enough hackle wraps are added to provide a good platform for the fly to land on, and to help keep it afloat.
I fish this fly like any emerger or cripple pattern. Usually it is cast to difficult, discerning fish on slow-moving water with multiple currents. My favourite approach is to target a specific fish and present a quartering downstream dead-drift with either an upstream or downstream mend, depending on the different currents. Occasionally, I move the fly ever so slightly if a trout is particularly selective, to give the impression of the mayfly escaping the nymphal case. When done properly, this has fooled some spectacular trout over the years.
While no fly pattern is perfect for every situation, this fly checks off all the boxes when fish are keying on emergers. The variety of materials with which it’s tied allows it to imitate the translucence, delicate profile, and movement of natural specimens while still providing buoyancy and visibility.
- Hook: Moonlit Fly Fishing ML 051 Emerger Hook or similar curved emerger hook
- Thread: 17/0 Uni Trico Thread
- Shuck: March Brown antron dubbing overlayed with deconstructed Semperfli Rust Glint Nymph Tinsel
- Abdomen: PMD turkey biot tied with the notch down for a furled body
- Wing Case: 1mm tan translucent Razor Foam
- Wings: 2 matched goose CDC feathers
- Thorax: PMD-coloured dry fly dubbing. I make a blend of of natural seal’s fur, opossum, rabbit, and fox.
- Hackle: Two wraps Whiting Farms honey dun rooster or hen hackle
- Start the thread about halfway down the hook shank. Tie in a small tube of antron dubbing overlayed with a strand of deconstructed Glint Nymph with a couple of thread wraps. Wrap thread, covering the shuck material with touching turns halfway down the hook bend.
- Tie in a PMD turkey biot with the notch turned upward so as to wrap a furled body. Wrap the biot forward to the point you started your thread, forming the abdomen, and tie off with a couple of thread wraps. Trim the excess.
- Tie in a 1 mm foam strip approximately 1/8” wide. Wrap a couple of wraps forward and fold the foam back over itself. Use two more thread wraps to secure the two pieces of foam angling back over the abdomen.
- Use a bodkin to gently make a hole through both foam pieces directly in the middle of the foam and just above the point where it is tied in. Hold the two pieces of foam and push the threader through both holes.
- Match two CDC feathers so their convex sides are touching and the tips are even. Wet the CDC feathers. (I use a drop of Watershed to do this.) Slide just the wing tips into the threader and gently pull them through the foam.
- Position the wings, use several thread wraps to secure them, and trim the excess. Then move the thread to the hook eye and tie in a honey dun hackle over the front of the eye with shiny side facing you.
- Dub a thorax, leaving the thread in a position slightly behind the hackle. Then wrap two wraps of hackle back toward the thread. Make a thread wrap through the hackle, trapping the tip and then secure with a couple wraps just behind the eye.
- Cut off the hackle tip. Trim hackle barbs in a “V” on top and underneath the fly. Trim the forward-most foam piece just past the hole. Pull the remaining foam piece forward using gentle wraps to tie down, forming the wing case. Whip finish and trim foam.
Check out Chris’ other patterns by clicking here and visiting him on Facebook.
(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the spring 2018 issue of Fly Fusion Magazine under a different tier’s name. Chris Williams is the correct tier.)