The Kaufmann’s Stone was developed by the fly-tying author, Randall Kaufmann. Randall owns and operates the famous Kaufmann’s Streamborn shops in Oregon and Washington states and has written several excellent tying books. I would recommend any of his works to an aspiring tyer and find myself using them as a reference more often that I’d like to admit.
The Kaufmann’s Stone has become the standard stonefly nymph pattern in the U.S. It is a relatively easy pattern to tie but incorporates a few unusual techniques. The original is tied a bit more robustly than what I have tied here. I believe this is because on many coastal rivers, the stonefly nymphs get VERY large and the regulations prohibit using lead on the leader. Randall has solved both of these issues with the lead underbody system, which creates a larger chassis for the pattern as well as adds enough weight to get the fly down in fast water.
I like Kaufmann’s Stones in the spring on the Colorado and Roaring Fork. A big, meaty Stone high-sticked along the edges of a high, run-off swollen river will bring the trout to hand more often than not. I typically use a short (7 1/2′) leader tapered to 2X or 3X with no indicator or additional lead on it. Just cast along upstream and let the fly tumble on a tight line back toward you. The strikes tend to lean toward vicious. Crank a few out and stash them in your spring box…you never know when the bite will come on.
Hook: TMC 300 #2-10
Thread: Black 3/0 Monocord
Weight: .035 lead wire
Tail: Brown Goose Biots
Rib: Brown V-Rib, Medium
Abdomen: Shaggy Dubbing of your Choice. Brown Seal is used here, although the original is tied with a blend of Angora goat hair in a mix of colors.
Wingcase: Mottled brown Turkey wing quill sections. Spray turkey with fixative (and allow to dry) before using.
Thorax: Same dubbing as the abdomen, alternate color if desired.
Antennae: Brown Goose Biots
Attach the thread and wrap a thread base from the eye to the bend and back again.
Bind a piece of .035 lead wire along the far side of the hook from about three or four eye lengths back from the hook eye to just in front of the hook point. Break off the excess wire and return the thread with tight wraps to the front of the lead wire.
Bind another length of wire to the near side of the shank in the same manner as above. Cover the lead wraps with tightly cross-hatched wraps of thread to secure them.
Coat the thread and lead wraps with a layer of head cement.
Wrap eight to ten turns of lead over the shank/lead wire underbody at the front end of the hook. I try to center the lead wraps on the front half of the hook to help build up the thorax, but be careful to leave enough room between the front end of the lead and the hook eye. Wrap the thread back and forth over the lead wraps to secure them as well.
Return the thread to the bend of the hook and dub a small amount of dubbing onto the thread. Wrap the dubbing into a ball shape at the bend of the hook, right above the hook barb.
Cut two brown goose biots from the stem and oppose the curves as shown. Measure the biots against the gap of the hook to make them equal in length to the hook gap.
Spread the biots on either side of the dubbing ball as shown. Turn the biot set just slightly toward you.
Make a loose wrap over the biots and let the thread torque twist them into place atop the shank. Once they are in position, tighten them down with several wraps of thread.
Clip the butt ends from the biots and wrap a smoothly tapered thread base over the stubs.
Cut a piece of V-Rib from the spool and orient it with the flat side up. V-rib is half-round in cross section. You want it to wrap with the round side up, and thus we will tie it in with the flat side up so when it “folds” at the bend the round side will show.
Tie the V-Rib in at the back end of the lead wraps (with the flat side UP) and bind it down to the base of the tails.
Dub the abdomen with a heavy layer of dubbing from the base of the tails to the two-thirds point on the shank, which should also be at the back edge of the lead wraps.
Apply a bit more dubbing and cover the remaining lead wraps with a thin layer. This layer will allow us to tie in the wingcase on a larger diameter section of the hook and eliminates the issue of dealing with the spaces in the lead wire wraps. Overlap the front of this dubbing with the thread to the two-thirds point in preparation for tying in the wingcase.
Spiral wrap the V-Rib forward through the abdomen, creating the rib. Tie off and clip the excess V-Rib.
Detail of ribbed abdomen.
Select a mottled turkey wing quill and spray both sides (front and back) with clear fixative. Clear fixative is available at Artists Supply stores or even hardware stores. Clear spray paint will do the trick as well. Be sure to straighten the fibers out before spraying them so they extend straight out from the center quill. You could also paint the feather with a thin layer of flexible head cement, but it is a bit messier and consumes a pretty good amount of cement. Be sure to let the feather dry completely BEFORE proceeding.
Clip three segments from the turkey quill that are about as wide as the hook gap. Notice that these sections are straight, with no curve to one side or the other. We will be working with the thicker inside portion of the feather where it is attached to the quill.
Fold the butt end of one of the slips so the edges are even, as shown.
Clip the butt end of the feather at the angle shown, from the bottom, open side of the fold toward the top, closed side, to create the V-shaped notch in the feather.
The notch should look like this.
Place the notched end of the feather slip on top of the fly with the tips extending to the fifty-percent point.
Press your thumb down on top of the quill slip and hold it in place while you make a few tight turns of thread over it. Form a narrow band of thread over the butt ends to secure it. Make sure the base of the wingcase is flush against the front end of the abdomen.
Detail of the wingcase. Trim the butt ends off flush and cover the stubs with several thread wraps.
Dub the thorax heavily as shown. Bring the dubbing a little further forward than you think you’ll need, to bring the diameter of the shank up a bit. We are going to tie in another pair of wingcases, so divide the remaining are in half to accommodate this. Overlap the thread back onto the thorax dubbing to the mid-point of the thorax as shown.
Cut and shape another turkey quill section as you did with the first and place it atop the hook as before. Tie the second wingcase in so the tips of the notched end extend to just beyond the base of the first wing case.
Secure the second wingcase as you did the first and trim the butt ends.
Dub another section of the thorax, again, heavily, as much of this dubbing will be picked out to create legs. Leave about three eye lengths of bare shank between the front of the dubbing and the hook eye.
Prepare and tie in the third turkey quill wingcase at the front of the dubbing. This last wingcase will be tightened down onto bare hook shank and cup around the front of the thorax, as shown. The tips of the notched end should extend to the base of the second wingcase as well.
Clip the butt ends of the last wingcase and build a smooth thread base over the stub ends.
Oppose a pair of brown biots and tie them in on either side of the hook shank with the pointed ends facing out over the eye. These biots will form the antennae and should be equal in length to the gap of the hook
Dub a small tapered head between the hook eye and the front of the last wingcase as shown. Make a few turns of thread under the biot antennae and whip finish the thread. Clip the thread.
Your fly oughtta look something like this about now.
Use a dubbing brush or piece of Velcro to pick out the thorax dubbing. Pick the fibers out to the sides to simulate legs.
After a little coif, your bug should have some shaggy little legs sticking out like this.
Grasp the thorax of the fly with your thumb and index finger and bend it slightly downward.
This humped-back look closely mimics the attitude of a drifting stonefly. Don’t curve them up too much though, they only curl up in your hand, not in the water.
Finished fly, top view.
Finished Fly, side view.
Detail of wingcases.
Detail of abdomen and ribbing.