Fly of the Month: Len's Stonefly Nymph
Len Wheaton has long been recognized as one of the many expert tiers in Evergreen Trout Unlimited, able to match pretty much any of the traditional patterns as well as tie variations all his own. He also heads up the instructional programs ETU does for students at the Mt. Evans Outdoor Lab, where Jefferson County 6th graders learn how to tie their own flies and then how to fish them.
This fly of Len’s is an area standard – a weighted, simple Stonefly Nymph.
- Hook: Dai-Riki 270, or something similar, #8 – 12
- Lead: optional for wrapping around hook for added weight
- Thread: Black 6/0
- Tail and Antennae: Black Goose biots
- Body and Thorax: Peacock ice dubbing
- Body rib: Thin copper wire
- Wing case: Thin skin, medallion sheeting or something similar
- Legs: Black barbs from hackle feather
Start by laying down a thread base back to where the hook begins to curve, then weight your hook with a few wraps of thin lead, starting about ¼ of the length behind the eye and ending about ½ of the length down the hook. Wrap over the lead with the thread and apply a couple of drops of head cement to stabilize it all.
Next, tie in two goose biots for the tail, turned so they flare out. A trick Len uses is to put a bump of thread wrap where the flare is going to start so that the biots are forced to either side. He ties them both in at the same time. Then tie in the thin copper wire just ahead of the biot tail tie-in. For now, leave it hanging there.
Use the peacock ice dubbing on your thread to form the abdomen, creating something of a cigar shape as you move forward to about 1/3 of the length behind the eye of the hook, and tie off. Now pick up the copper wire and counter-wrap it forward with about eight to 10 wraps to create a ribbing and tie off at the same point where your dubbing ends.
Now tie in the medallion sheeting for the wing case just in front of your other tie-ins. Taper the end slightly to help in tying it in. Pull it back toward the bend of the hook and leave it there for now. Starting where you tied in the medallion sheeting, create a thorax using a few more wraps of the peacock ice dubbing. The thorax should be “beefier” than the abdomen. At this point, tie in on either side several black barbs off a hackle feather to create a few legs. Tie them in so they are pointing back and just slightly down.
Pull the medallion sheeting forward over the dubbing and over the point where the legs are tied in and tie off. Then tie in two goose biots to create the antennae, once again holding them so that they flare out to either side, with the eye of the hook in the middle. Cover the tie-ins with a couple of wraps of the peacock ice dubbing and whip finish.
Complete the fly by putting a little head cement or “Hard as Nails” on the medallion sheeting to create a hard wing case. If you prefer, you can also use an epoxy. “Hard as Nails” can be found in the women’s hand care/nail product section of the grocery or drug store – not at Home Depot. -John Haile