The best advice I ever got as a fly tier was to look at what you are going to imitate. Nail the profile and movement of a fly by watching and observing the natural…then work from there by adding attractor elements, flash, beads, and other things that trout like. This advice led me on one of those life long quests that in fly tying circles makes me interesting, but in many other social circles just weird…I collect and watch bugs. This created some tough moments during my adolescent years, but I feel I am stronger and more secure in my own skin now because of it.
One of the first things I began to notice when I began putting caddis pupa, mayfly nymphs, and stonefly nymphs in vials, instead of the things that normal people do for fun, was how trim they were. I began to realize how many of the PMD’s, Baetis, PED’s, and smaller caddis were no fatter then a hook shank and definitely were not as big as the flies that were being sold in my local fly shop, or any fly shop that I had been to for that matter. I realized that many of the flies I was tying, and were being sold, were way over dressed to imitate the silhouette of these bugs I was seeing. This lead me to really begin thinking about how I dress my flies and the materials I was using.
This is what I call the less is more approach. One less pinch of dubbing, one less wrap of thread, one less clump of pheasant tail, I always force myself to be conscious now of how much material I am putting into my fly and how it will affect the end result and silhouette of that pattern.
Here are a few tips to trim up your nymphs…
- Use thread for the abdomen on mayfly nymphs very similar to a thread midge
- Switch to dry fly antron dubbing for the thorax.
- ALWAYS use 8/0 thread for anything that isn’t a stone fly nymph
- For your Pheasant tails only use 3 fibers. This gives you 3 tails and will keep the abdomen of that fly TRIM.
- DO not use commercial ties as the model for your flies. Get the real bug and use it.
- Get the silhouette down and then add all the rubber legs, flash, and complexity.
Hogan is a contract tyer for Idylwilde Fly Co. and has over 24 patterns available through them.