To see the collection of previous articles go to the Fly of the Month Archives

Fly of the Month 2016

November 2016

“Fruit Salad”

Tied by Bart Lombardo

Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad

I discovered this pattern about a year ago on a blog hailing from England called the North Country Angler. I was intrigued by the pattern and tied up a few to try. This fly turned to be an instant success. I don't know if I can attribute the fly's effectiveness to its buggy profile or the hot spot of contrasting colors, all I know works. Originally tied on a jig hook, I have also enjoyed success with the pattern tied on a standard nymph hook. I've included pictures of both as a reference. Like the fly's creator, I prefer to fish them in smaller sizes. I have tied the pattern as large as a size twelve to use as an anchor fly in heavy, off color flows. It caught fish but I think the smaller versions were far more effective.

Hook: Umpqua C400BL #16 or standard nymph hook
Bead: Faceted Tungsten sized to hook
Thread: Olive 70 denier UTC
Tail: Two strands of Glowbrite #1 (pink) over two strands of Glowbrite #7 (orange)
Rib: Fine Black Wire
Body: Dark Hares Mask Dubbing
Thorax: Arizona Synthetic Dubbing Natural Peacock #59
Legs: Dark Dun CDC wound as a collar (I like keeping them on the long side)

October 2016

“Sawyer’s Killer Bug ”

Tied by Lou DiGena

Sawyers Killer Bug

The Sawyer’s Killer Bug is famous in the U.K. and Europe but only recently has this pattern gained a following in the U.S. This fly is famous for its fish catching and the mythological properties of Chadwick’s 477 yarn used in its construction.

I became aware of the Killer Bug through English fly tyer and author Oliver Edwards who featured Sawyer’s patterns in his DVD Essential Skills: Search and Sight Fishing released in 2001. Frank Sawyer was a river keeper on the River Avon at Lake in Wiltshire in the U.K. along with being a writer and inventor of such flies as the Pheasant Tail Nymph. Sawyer’s pattern are simple an effective, using in many cases only two materials. In the Killer Bug and Pheasant Tail nymph he used copper wire as the thread and as weight. Both patterns are brilliant in their simplicity and effectiveness.

The killer bug was developed by Sawyer’s to manage the grayling numbers on the River Avon. Back then grayling were considered vermin, and gentleman would only angle for trout, never grayling. In alkaline chalk steams one of the main food sources is freshwater shrimp and the Killer Bug was designed to imitate shrimp and scuds. Today in the U.S. it’s an effective imitation for larva (crane and caddis), scuds, cress bugs and shrimp.

Originally the Killer Bug was tied with Chadwick's 477 darning wool and reddish brown copper wire. For some, the original Chadwick's 477 wool has mythical fish-catching properties with lengths of the wool selling for hundreds of dollars. Production of the Chadwick’s wool ceased in 1965, which only added to its value.

The Killer Bug was name by Sawyer's friend Lee Wulff, but its popularity never quite took in the U.S. By the time I found out about the “Bug” there was no wool to purchase. I was on a mission find a suitable substitute. Veniard’s sells their version wool (Veniard 477) but with out a sample of the genuine article it was nearly impossible to know if it was a good match.

My first substitute took the form of a cutting up an old rag wool sweater that was too small, and thaT worked well. Next I found some old craft yarn “Fun with Fibers” that was a viable candidate but was as rare as the Chadwick’s. Then I started to use Patons Classic Wool Natural Mix (00229), which I found at Michael’s. Then I struck gold, one blogger from the U.K. sent me a yard of Chadwick’s 477, now I had the yarn to use as a reference.

Many other bloggers and friends pointed me in the direction of finding a suitable substitute. Chris Swart (TankaraBum), Juan Ramirez (The Hopper Juan), and Jason Klass (Tenkara Talk). The link below is a great reference page on the different yarns and how they look wet and dry.

Here is a list of yarns you can use to tie your killer bug:

Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift: Oyster (Color #290)
Patons Classic Wool Yarn (00229) Natural Mix
Regia Darning Yarn: Light Camel Marl
Veniard Chadwick Wool - 477 (Killer Bug Yarn)

Places to purchase these yarns or try your local craft or yarn shop:

Tenkara Bum
Three Rivers Tenkara
Performance Flies

Hook: TMC 2302 or Mustad S80-3906 #14-18
Thread: Copper wire in size Brassie or Small
Body: Chadwick’s 477 wool substitute

September 2016

“Mercury Pheasant Tail Nymph ”
Pattern originated by Pat Dorsey, this version tied by Bill Ninke


Pat Dorsey (an author, guide, and tier from Colorado) is generally credited with creating and popularizing the “Mercury” series of nymph and midge patterns. Flies in this series all have a small silver lined clear glass bead at their head. This bead provides just enough weight to cause the fly to ride a few inches under the surface when tied on as a dropper to an indicator dry fly. It also gives the pattern a bit of flash to attract a trout’s attention. The fly works well as a shallow dropper early in the season when small nymphs and midges are around. It also works well as a dropper off a heavier nymph in a two fly deep system as the season progresses.

Pat’s original dressing (in Tying and Fishing Tailwater Flies) uses four fibers for the tail and body and forms legs, two to a side, from the butt ends of the pheasant tail fibers. While his version certainly works, I feel the butt ends are too large and inflexible to give the pattern a natural look and action. Thus, I’ve chosen to form the legs from fibers from a hen saddle. Getting these fibers as balanced sets on each side of the fly and of the proper length is a bit of a fussy procedure. But, if you use, as I have, the procedure Tim Flagler shows in his video on tying the legs on the Copper John nymph, you’ll achieve a perfect result. Well, maybe the first few won’t look great. But practice always helps on any new procedure.

Hook:  TMC 101, #18
Thread:  Black 8/0 UNI
Rib: Gold Ultra Wire, XS
Tail,& Body:  3 Pheasant Tail Fibers
Flashback: Mylar Tinsel, Medium
Thorax: Peacock Herl, single strand from lower part of a Peacock Eye feather
Legs: Brahma Hen Saddle Dyed Rust

June 2016

“MFPD Pocket Picker”
by Lou Digena

MFPD Pocket Picker

In 2015 Kevin Compton the owner of Performance Flies and I got together to film him tying up some of the patterns he is best know for and popularizing.

Kevin is bring some of best materials and patterns from the European competitive fly fishing scene to the states. As well as introducing tiers and anglers to these new materials and methods he is also carried some of Jack Mickievicz's original materials such as Honeybug Cotton Chenille, Jack's original dubbing blends and genuine DuPont Antron yarn.

MFPD Pocket Picker nymph is a pattern designed by Peter Durisik of Slovakia.


Hook: Hanak H230BL #14-16 (Tied here with a S80-3906)
Head: 3/32 Gold Tungsten Bead
Thread: UTC 70 Watery Olive
Tails: Coq de Leon Fibers, Medium Pardo
Rib #1: Synthetic Quill Body, Graphite
Rib #2: Sybai XF Gold Wire
Tip: Glo-Brite Floss, Hot Orange #6
Body: UTC 70 Watery Olive Thread
Thorax: Pine Squirrel with UV Flash

Tiers Note: I started fishing this fly this spring with great success and it’s become one of my go to nymphs.

For tying instructions visit my blog Fly and Fin or YouTube

Wild Brown Takes a MFPD

May 2016

“Rene’ Harrops’ CDC Biot Spinner (Beatis) ”
by Lou Digena

BWO Spinner

Hook: TMC 100 Size 18-22
Thread: 8/0 Olive
Tail: Cod de Leon Tailing Fibers
Abdomen: Olive Goose or Turkey Biot
Thorax: Olive
Wing: Light CDC Tied Spent (May substitute poly or antron yarn.)

Tiers note: I prefer the wings on spinners to be tied sparse. If the fish turn off from the spinner switch to a two fly rig and put a small split shot about 4" - 6" for the spinner. Many time trout switch to the sunken spinners when you don’t see visible spinner rises.

April 2016

“Rene’ Harrops’ Last Chance Cripple (Beatis)”
by Lou Digena

BWO Cripple

Hook: Dry Fly Hook Size #16 to #22
Thread: 8/0 Olive
Shuck: Sparkle Yarn, Darlon, or Z-Lon
Tail: Wood Duck or Mallard Dyed Wood Duck
Abdomen: Olive Turkey or Goose Biot
Wing: 2-3 matched CDC Feathers Dun
Thorax: Olive Dubbing
Hackle: Dun Dry Fly Hackle

Tiers note: Many times during the hatch trout key in on the most vulnerable phase of the emergence. That's why emerges are so effective, but another state that is just as vulnerable is the cripple or knocked down patterns. These insects either fail to hatch fully from their shuck or are knocked down by wind and water and stuck in the surface film. Cripples are highly effective in pressured waters where trout are refusing the Dun.

March 2016

“K L Special”
by Ron Ruskai

K L Special

Hook: Mustard 3761 10-12
Thread: 6/0 uni black
Tag: Flat gold tinsel
Tail: Mottled turkey quill
Body: Lt gray Uni-Stretch
Rib: Wine Ultra wire BR size
Wing: Mottled turkey over lemon wood duck
Hackle: Partridge tied in as a throat
Head: Black ostrich herl

This is an old Maine fly with some updates, try this in pocket water.

February 2016

“Craven’s CDC Comparadun”
by Lou Digena


Hook: TMC 101 #16-26
Thread: 8/0 or 10/0 Olive or Gray
Tail: Lemon Synthetic Tailing Fibers or Cod de Leon Tailing Fibers
Abdomen: Olive or Grey (Match the BWO in your area.)
Thorax: Olive or Gray Dubbing (Match the BWO in your area.)
Wing: Dun CDC Comparadun

Comparadun or Haystack dry flies are great to use when trout are selective because these flies sit flush in the surface film like the natural. The CDC wing is easy to see and floats well. Remember only to dress the fly with a power floatant like Frogs Fanny, other paste floatant’s matt down the CDC and reduces it’s effectiveness.

January 2016

“Rene’ Harrops’ CDC Floating Beatis Nymph”
by Lou Digena


Hook: TMC 206BL #14 Size 18 - 22
Thread: 8/0 Olive or Tan
Tail: Lemon Wood Duck Flank or Dyed Mallard Wood Duck
Abdomen: Olive Goose or Turkey Biot
Thorax:Brown Olive Dubbing
Wing Case: Dun CDC
Legs: Dun CDC

Tiers Note: Trout often key in on the vulnerable emerger early in a hatch. Use this pattern when the Olives are hatching and you see surface takes but no duns on the water.