I recently had a customer bring some of these patterns in to me for a custom order and seeing the sample reminded of tying these way back in the day for Tim Heng when he was at Roaring Fork Anglers (that goes WAAAY back). This is the simplest of stonefly nymph patterns and one that doesn’t require any particularly fancy materials to tie. Basically a large Hare’s Ear Nymph, the RF Stone adds in a biot tail and a palmered hen saddle feather through the thorax to replicate the naturals wiggly legs. I have tied these up with a set of rubber legs thrown in as well as with a bead head, although the standard issue pattern is what I will show here. I think this pattern can be timely here in the early spring, as the large Pteranarcys nymphs will start getting active in rivers like the Roaring Fork (duh!), Colorado and other area freestones. Throw a few of this simple pattern in your box: It works great and is a relatively quick tie given that it is big enough to imitate large Salmonfly nymphs.
Hook: Daiichi 2220 #6-12
Thread: Brown 3/0 Danville Monocord
Weight: Lead Wire sized to hook
Tail: Brown Goose Biots
Rib: Brassie Sized Copper-Brown Ultra Wire
Abdomen: Dark Hare’s Mask Dubbing from the center of the mask (poll) mixed with a little bit of dark brown antron dubbing.
Wingcase: Mottled Turkey Tail Feather
Legs: Mottled Brown Hebert Hen Saddle Feather (you need the Hebert Hen saddle for length, as an India Hen Saddle is just too short to palmer through the thorax).
Thorax: Same Dubbing as abdomen
Place the hook in the vise and wrap about 16 turns of lead wire on the front end of the shank. I used .025 diameter here, but you can up or downsize as needed. Be sure to leave adequate room in front of the lead to taper back down to bare shank and finish of the fly on bare hook. Start the thread in front of the lead wraps and make a tapered thread dam up to the diameter of the lead wraps. This thread dam will taper the shank up to the lead and also prevent the lead wraps from sliding forward. Wrap tightly back over the lead to the back of the lead wraps and build another thread dam tapering down to the shank. Continue the thread base back to the bend of the hook. Place a drop or two of thin head cement on the thread wraps and lead to anchor everything in place.
Twist some dubbing onto the thread and build a small ball right at the bend of the hook. I normally eschew this type of tail separator on biot tailed flies, as I really don’t think it’s needed if you actually ever learned the right way to tie in biot tails (Oh Snap! I DID say that out loud!) BUT, in this case, the ball will help with the overall shape of the body and I am trying to be true to the original pattern as I remember it, so there;-)
Lay two goose biots in along the sides of the shank with the dubbing ball in between them. The biots should be just a touch longer than the hook gap.
Tie the biots in place so they are nicely separated by the dubbing ball as shown here. Make sure they stay square to the shank.
Wrap forward over the butt ends of the biot, binding them down to the shank as you go. See how they lay down on the hook and smooth the taper out a bit from the bare shank up onto the lead wraps?
Tie in a length of copper brown wire at the mid-point on the shank and wrap back over it to the bend. You can tie it in on any side of the shank you like, but I tie it in on my near side of the hook so I can see it easier. Make sure to wrap tightly back over the wire so it doesn’t slip out later…that would be bad.
Twist a good amount of dubbing onto the thread and wrap a nicely tapered abdomen up the shank to about the seventy-five percent point. Be sure to build a nice square-ish taper to better replicate the shape of the real critter.
Spiral wrap the rib forward over the abdomen with about six or seven turns and tie it off at the front end of the hook. Helicopter the end of the wire to break it off flush.
Wrap the thread back over the front end of the abdomen, overlapping back to about the sixty to sixty-five percent point. We want this overlap to insure that the abdomen and thorax run smoothly together.
Clip a section of turkey tail quill that is about as wide as the hook gap at its tip. Clip the tip end square.
Tie the turkey section in by its tip, on top of the hook at the end of your overlap (60-65% point) with the inside of the feather facing up. Read that sentence three times before you do it…there’s a lot of information in a few words, so pay close attention to get it right. I like to keep the tip of the feather short of the hook eye so that I don’t have to trim it off later.
Now you can just wrap forward over the stub end of the wingcase to bind it flat against the shank and smooth the taper over the lead down onto the hook. Pretty crafty, huh?
Select a nice long hen saddle feather from the pelt. You can size the feather at any length from half a shank all the way down to just a gap width. This one here will have long wiggly legs so we picked a feather with longer barbs.
Strip the barbs from the inside of the feather. What I mean by “inside” is the side of the feather that will touch the shank when we wrap it. In this case, we are going to tie the feather in by it’s tip, so with the tip pointing down, I have stripped the left side of the feather…BUT, I tie left handed, so if you don’t, you should strip the other side.
Leave a bit of the tip of the feather with barbs on both sides to help anchor things in place. Tie the feather in at the base of the wingcase by its tip end as shown here.
The fly ought to look a little something like this right about now. Make sense?
Twist some more dubbing onto the thread and begin wrapping it from just behind the index point back to the base of the wingcase. working your way up the taper of the thorax rather than down from the wingcase area. Dub all the way back to the base of the wingcase.
Continue dubbing forward again to just short of the index point. Try to square off the tapered abdomen a bit like I have done here. We do not want a sharply tapered thorax, but rather a nice robust and somewhat rectangular shaped thorax.
Palmer the hen feather forward over the thorax with three or four turns (now you see why we wanted a nice long feather). Tie the feather off at the index point with a couple tight turns of thread and clip the excess. Try to be sure that the feather fibers slope back along the body of the fly as you wrap. This half stripped feather will create some gangly legs on the fly and should not be too heavy or thick.
Pull the wingcase forward over the top of the thorax, taking care not to push the hackle fibers forward as you do it. it may help to stroke the hackle on the top of the fly down to the sides as you bring the wingcase forward. Tie off the wingcase with several tight turns of thread to anchor it across the top of the fly. Be sure the wingcase is centered on the thorax when you do this.
Build a smooth thread head over the butt ends of the wingcase, whip finish and add a drop of thin head cement to the thread wraps.
Finished fly, side view. Note the long-ish legs on this fly…not too long, but long none-the-less.
Here is a fly with a shorter hackle…you can see the fly seems a bit smaller, but the legs aren’t quite so prone to wiggly jiggly action. Both long and short hackles work fine on this fly, it’s just that they give slightly different effects.
Top view of finished fly.