Fly of the Month: Periwinkle

Looking for a great midge or a Baetis shuck pattern that’s likely to turn up fish on the South Platte, Colorado, Roaring Fork or Williams Fork in late spring, before runoff?

Bob Dye, who guides all those rivers out of the Blue Quill Angler– as well as the Grey Reef area of the North Platte -- has a favorite that a group of guides came up with some years ago and kept as a secret fly just to themselves for some years because it was so good. It’s called the Periwinkle.

It was designed to imitate a Baetis shuck. In April and May, you often will find clumps of shucks in a pocket of slow-moving water when there are big Baetis hatches going on. That’s a sure indication that you may want to tie on a Periwinkle and try your luck.

The main thing to remember about fishing this fly around here is to fish it small – sizes 18 to 24.


Hook: TMC 2487 size 18 thru 24
Bead: Rainbow Killer Caddis, midge size
Thread: Olive UTC 70
Wire: Black brassie
Dubbing: UV ice dub, olive

First thing you should know is that Bob says he ties this fly in less than three minutes. So, if you had been tying this during the Super Bowl, let’s see, you could have turned out at least 60 of these, and that’s a couple of bathroom breaks.

And, at $2 a fly, that means your time would have been worth about $120, or a good first payment on a new big screen TV. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Oh, how to tie the fly.

Tying Instructions:

As always, we recommend crimping down the barb on the hook before putting the hook in the vise so that catch and release will be easy. Of course, a 20-inch trout on a #24 hook usually makes for a pretty easy release anyway, usually about 10 feet from shore, but taking that barb off is just nice for the fish.

Slip on the bead and start your thread behind it. Wrap back along the shank and just onto the bend of the hook. Then make a few wraps forward up onto the shank. As with most midges, keep the thread wraps to a minimum.

Now tie in your black wire right where the thread hangs and wrap back down to where you originally had taken your thread onto the bend of the hook. That’s not very far. Notice in the photo how Bob lays the wire right on top of the shank for his tie-in, but at just a little angle so that the end of the wire is pointing slightly toward you. That way, when he starts his wraps, the wire will be perfectly angled without having to twist the thread.

As you tie in your wire, you also will create a little bump of thread and wire that will help hold in place the wire wraps that you will make later and help make the fly more durable.

Now that the wire is tied in, go ahead and wrap your thread forward to behind the bead. Next, bring your wire forward in about five wraps up to behind the bead. You should leave small gaps between each wrap of wire. Tie off the wire behind the bead. Break off any excess.

For your last step, put a small amount of the UV ice dubbing on your thread and dub that with a couple of wraps right behind the bead, covering the area where you tied off your wire. Whip finish, carefully slipping the thread down right behind the bead, and you’re done.

periwinkle periwinkle

Final Version (Above)

By John Haile. Photos by Tim Stechert.