Category Archives: Nymphs

Crystal Stone – 03/06/2021

Crystal Stone 03/06/2021 Photo Album

I am taking credit for creating and naming a new fly, although I have not researched whether a similar tie already exists. I was researching destinations for a fishing trip prior to my visit to the Arkansas River on 03/09/2021. One of my options was one of the sections of the South Platte River. I follow guide, Pat Dorsey, on Instagram; and a post during that time frame mentioned that little black stoneflies were present in decent numbers along the South Platte. He suggested using a black pheasant tail size 18 as an imitation. I pondered this and realized that I did not possess any small black nymphs, so I decided to cover my bases and tie a few.

Sideview of a Crystal Stone

I surfed YouTube and browsed some black pheasant tail patterns, and that was when I realized, that they required dyed black pheasant tails, and I had none in my possession. Over the last year I made a concerted effort to utilize the materials that I already stock in abundance rather than increasing my supply, so I contemplated replacement materials. I settled on black crystal flash, as it was the correct color, offered some flash, and worked well in an iron sally.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookSize 18 dry fly hook or nymph hook
BeadSilver, size to fit hook
Thread Black 6/0
TailSix strands of black crystal flash
RibFine silver wire
AbdomenFine black dubbing
Wing CaseBlack crystal flash
ThoraxBlack peacock ice dub
LegsBlack crystal flash

Here are my steps for tying a crystal stone:

1. Put down a solid thread base over the back 2/3 of the hook shank.

2. Cut six strands of black crystal flash from the clump and tie them in on top of the hook at the midpoint of the shank.

3. Wrap over the crystal flash keeping the strands on top of the hook, until you reach the point, where the hook begins to bend.

4. Cut the tail, so it is roughly equal to the hook gap or a bit longer.

5. Tie in the fine silver wire at the midpoint and wrap back to the beginning of the tail.

6. Move the thread to a position above the hook point and twirl black dubbing on the thread. Use the bare thread to move back to the front of the tail and then build a tapered body from the tail to a point 1/3 behind the hook eye.

7. Wrap the wire forward to create a rib over the abdomen. Tie off and cut off the wire.

8. Fold the strands of crystal flash back over the abdomen and make a couple wraps to keep it pointing toward the tail.

9. Use black peacock ice dub to create a nice thorax that is thicker than the abdomen.

10. Fold the six strands of black crystal flash forward over the top of the thorax and tie down behind the bead with some secure wraps. Use your fingers if necessary to spread the fibers so they have a decent width for a wing case.

11. Separate the six fibers that protrude over the eye of the hook into two clumps of three, and then fold each back and lock down with some wraps, so the legs point backward along the sides of the body. Build a collar behind the bead and whip finish.

12. Cut the legs to an even length, so they extent slightly beyond the wing case.

13. Optionally apply a bead of UV resin to the wing case and cure.

I know I am biased, but I tied five of these, and I think they look great. They are the right size, totally black, and they display an eye-grabbing amount of flash. I tried one at the start of my day on the Arkansas River on 03/09/2021, but I was unable to interest the trout in my new creation. Perhaps little black stoneflies are more prevalent in the South Platte drainage. Once the recent snowstorm disappears, I hope to visit the South Platte for another test of the crystal stone.

Five Crystal Stones

Pat’s Rubber Legs – 12/19/2020

Pat’s Rubber Legs 12/19/2020

Who was Pat? I always wonder about this, when I approach my vise to produce some of the weighted wiggly stonefly imitations. I tied several batches of these in a yellow-brown chenille to imitate molting golden stoneflies in the early 2000’s, but then I drifted away from this popular fly. I reprised the Pat’s rubber legs last winter after glowing reports from my friend, Dave G. Check out my post of 01/10/2020 to familiarize yourself with my history with this fly as well as a materials table.

Wild Legs

My reintroduction of Pat’s rubber legs got off to a roaring start, when I landed two rainbows on it during my first outing of 2020. Check out my post of 01/26/2020 to read more about this rare winter outing. I tied the rubber legs to my line on several subsequent spring outings, but unfortunately, as the season developed, I strayed from my Pat’s rubber legs revival campaign. When I showed Dave G. the flies that I produced, he said they were not quite the same color as the ones that produced outstanding results for him on the Eagle River and Colorado River. I based my choice of variegated chenille on the fact that his guide called it a pickle fly. For my winter tying session in December 2020 I purchased some coffee and black chenille at Charlie’s Fly Box, and I manufactured five of these weighted stonefly imitations. Hopefully¬† I give the green and coffee rubber legs a trial in 2021, and if I do, perhaps I will enjoy success similar to Dave G.

Pat’s Rubber Legs Coffee-Black

Olive Midge Larva – 12/18/2020

Olive Midge Larva 12/18/2020 Photo Album

For some reason I seem to have an aversion to fishing midges. On the occasions when I knot one to my line I experience reasonable success, but season after season I default to my larger and more popular nymphs, thus allowing limited opportunities for the tiny but ever present midges to shine. My post of 12/10/2015 describes a few details from my interaction with the zebra midge, a close cousin of the olive midge larva.

Keep It Simple

I counted all my midges and determined that I had eight of the olive variety in my combined storage compartments. I decided to increase the stock to ten and whipped out two additional midge larva. The basic midge larva is probably my fastest tie. It takes longer to feed the tiny bead on to the hook than to spin out the larva, since one fly only requires thread and a rib. Perhaps I will deploy the olive midge more often in 2021.

Ready for Action

Scuds – 12/18/2020

Scuds 12/18/2020 Photo Album

Scuds, scuds and scuds. According to most knowledgeable sources (fly fishing magazines), scuds are an important food source to trout around the world particularly during the winter months. While aquatic insects lie dormant in their nymph form, scuds continue to cling to aquatic vegetation and consequently get dislodged on a fairly frequent basis. Hungry winter trout do not miss the opportunity to grab these nourishing bits as they float by. We all love shrimp cocktail!

Fresh Water Shrimp

My post of 12/20/2019 described my hiatus from fishing scuds and also outlined some of my successes during the 90’s, when an orange scud in April and May was a ticket to a full net. The piece from December 2019 also highlights a few of my deviations from the standard scud tying procedure. Rather than waiting another twenty years to replenish my supply of scuds, I counted my current stock in my various storage containers, and I determined that I needed three additional gray and one olive. I fished scuds a few more times than normal in 2020, and that perhaps accounted for the shrinkage in inventory.

Nice Lighting

I am determined to give scuds a fair trial in 2021. They worked in the 90’s, and the experts swear by them, so I am convinced that a vote of confidence from this angler will yield results.

A Batch of Four with the Needed Materials

Classic RS2 – 12/07/2020

Classic RS2 12/07/2020 Photo Album

If inventory depletion is an indication of the popularity of a fly, then the RS2 remains as a stalwart among my collection of baetis nymph imitations. I fired up the vise and produced seven new classics; whereas, the sparkle wing versions remained adequately stocked. To read my latest narrative on the positive qualities of the classic RS2, click on this link to last year’s post. For a materials table and a nice discussion of my material substitutions, browse on over to my post of 01/21/2011.


I maintain a supply of baetis nymphs ranging from the sparkle wing RS2 to the super nova baetis, but it is hard to beat the productivity of the classic RS2. I continue to stock an ample supply for the regular blue winged olive hatches in the spring and fall. I cannot wait for the 2021 spring emergence to kick off another season.

Completed Batch

Super Nova Baetis – 12/05/2020

Super Nova Baetis 12/05/2020 Photo Album

As described in my previous post I experimented with the super nova series created by @hopperjuan_fly_fishing. I began with the PMD version, since it performed decently in some brief trials, but the baetis form of the super nova also nabbed a few fish during blue winged olive hatches. With this favorable background I decided to augment my supply of these flies as well.


My post from last April during the early stages of the covid19 pandemic provides a materials table and an explanation of some of the substitutions, that I adopted. I manufactured eight new super nova baetis, and I am anxious to allocate more line time to these flashy baetis nymph imitations.

A Favorite Shot

Super Nova PMD – 12/01/2020

Super Nova PMD 12/01/2020 Photo Album

The super nova PMD burst on the scene, just as one would expect from an explosive celestial body. During my recovery from heart surgery and during the early months of the covid pandemic, I tied an array of new flies to occupy my time. The super nova flies created by @hopperjuan_fly_fishing caught my attention, and I began with five PMD’s and five baetis.

Slim Rib Ribbing

Throughout the 2020 season I tested these flies, and both generated positive results, although the PMD version surpassed the baetis adaptation. During several outings I knotted the super nova to my line in situations, where I would normally opt for a pheasant tail nymph or salvation nymph, and it performed well. I do not view it as a replacement for the top producing salvation, but I am very comfortable with it replacing the pheasant tail nymph. The fly looks quite similar, and it is a much simpler tie. In addition I believe the materials are more durable than the fragile pheasant tail fibers that form a large proportion of the pheasant tail nymph.

Ten Super Nova PMD’s

My post of 04/12/2020 provides a nice description of the super nova and its applications, and it also provides a materials list. I tied five in April 2020, and my glimpses of success prompted me to tie an additional ten to bring my inventory to fifteen. Meanwhile I continue to work off my ample inventory of beadhead pheasant tail nymphs.

Emerald Caddis Pupa – 11/29/2020

Emerald Caddis Pupa 11/29/2020 Photo Album

For the story of the rise of the emerald caddis pupa to a prominent fish attractor, please view my post of 01/01/2012. This post also provides a materials table. The prime caddis season during 2020 coincided with my recovery from mitral heart valve repair, and this circumstance translated to less than normal shrinkage in my inventory of caddis pupa flies. This held true for the emerald version, and consequently I only produced three additional flies in my recent tying session.

Lots of Scraggly Fibers

My usage of the emerald caddis pupa continues to be fairly consistent, as it ranks only behind a top tier of flies that includes the hares ear nymph and salvation nymph. Hopefully the administration of a coronavirus vaccine and improved personal health will enable me to spend more time on the rivers and streams in the spring pre run off time period, and the emerald caddis pupa will occupy significant time on my leader.

Nice Little Pocket

Go2 Sparkle Pupa – 11/28/2020

Go2 Sparkle Pupa 11/28/2020 Photo Album

My 12/08/2019 post summarizes my interaction with the go2 sparkle pupa, and my 01/10/2012 blog post provides a materials table, although chartreuse midge diamond braid should be substituted for the abdomen material. 01/11/2017 provides the story behind my creation of the hybrid caddis pupa, which I named the go2 sparkle pupa.

Effective During Spring Caddis Hatches

This fly has been a mainstay in my fleece wallet since its inception, and it performs particularly well in the spring season prior to run off. I tend to stray from using it in the post run off time period; however the shiny diamond braid might continue to deliver results as an attractor.

Three Go2 Sparkle Pupa

I counted my remaining stock of go2 caddis pupa and determined that I needed to create three additional flies to restore my inventory to target levels. I am anxious to tie a go2 sparkle pupa to my line, as that act heralds spring fly fishing in the Rockies.

20 Incher – 11/24/2020

20 Incher 12/14/2020 Photo Album

The popularity of the 20 Incher with this avid fly fisherman expanded gradually over the last several years. This phenomenon parallels my increased confidence in the iron sally, so perhaps I discovered the appetite of western trout for stonefly nymphs. They are available throughout the year, and they represent a large chunk of meat, so there is ample logic to support this conclusion.

Size 10 20 Incher

If you click on this link, 11/22/2019, you can peruse my post from last fall, and it provides a nice narration on my introduction to the 20 incher and how and when I utilize this effective nymph. My post of 01/06/2019 displays a materials chart, should you wish to produce a batch. Several solid fly tying videos exist on YouTube with excellent instruction on the tying steps.

Side Profile

I generally follow the standard tying steps with the exception of one component; the wing case. During tying sessions up until this year I substituted a strip of Tyvek for the universally recommended turkey tail quill section; however, this year I returned to the turkey tail section. Initially I switched because the turkey section seemed relatively fragile, but with the addition of a layer of thin UV resin, the fragility issue is remedied, and I believe the coated turkey has a more natural look that the plain, untextured Tyvek.

Seven Size 10 and Two Size 12

I busied myself at the vise a couple days before Thanksgiving and produced ten 20 inchers to replenish my supply. Four were size 12 and six were size 14. Increased playing time on the end of my line causes shrinkage in my inventory, thus, the need for ten replacements. I am certain that my surge in usage of the 20 incher will continue in 2021.