This is basically a hares-ear variant and I have been tying this variant for decades. I have fished successfully for numerous species across Canada with this making catches including including Arctic grayling, brook trout, kokanee, mountain and lake whitefish, inconnu and even bull trout, to name a few. I have tied this as small as 14 but since coming to Ontario and the Great Lakes, I pretty much only tie it now in size 8. Since fishing the Great Lakes with this, salmonid-wise, I have caught steels for sure….but also coho, Chinook and browns. I have also used this for all manner of centrarchid as well and it slays them. This variant IS my go-to pattern for any new water…and for winter steelheading. While I mostly fish it under an indicator, I also have long-sticked successfully. As it is weighted (bead and lead wraps), it sinks fast so works in all applications such as this.
Hook: standard nymph, size 8 (steelhead)
Tail: a pinch of redish brown bunny strip (I like the swim of the natural hair…and as in the pic, I like the tail long)
Abdomen: mix of red-brown hares ear dubbing and brown ice dub ribbed over with oval brass
Thorax: same mix of dubbed as abdomen with a pheasant tail fiber wing case.
Head: brass bead…typically 3/32.
General instructions: After putting on the bead, I like to wrap about 7-10 turns of medium lead (poor man’s tungsten) right behind the bead…basically, the length of what the thorax will be. This helps to hold the bead as well as build up the thorax of the fly. I mix the dubbing literally a batch at a time and years of use, I have come to this reddish-brown combo that seems deadly to almost anything I have fished for. Years before Ice Dub, I mixed colours of hares-ear dubbing for the reddish brown. The Ice Dub adds a great bit of sparkle and seems to have added extra life to this pattern. That said, I do find you can use too much so I believe my mix ratio is near 3:1 natural to ice.
As for tying with the dubbing, I pretty much always use a dubbing tool except for right behind the bead. With that, right after tying down the wing-case, I like to finish my nymphs with a tiny pinch of the same dubbing for a collar right behind the bead. I like the look and it also adds to the ‘buggy-ness’ of the fly, I think. I also like to tie the thorax pretty bulky and after finishing/tying off the fly, I use my dubbing tool to pluck out legs and basically ‘fluff up’ the bug. Best fished, for me, under a suspension system (indicator) but has worked well in long-stick application as well.