The Breadcrust Nymph

By Ed Rolka and Leon Cheeka

The Breadcrust Nymph was born in northeastern Pennsylvania decades ago. Not much history is available about the fly, but when I began fly fishing in 1950, the fly was a top standard in Pennsylvania. Originally, the Breadcrust was called the Bread Basket. This name indicated that the fly was capable of filling a basket with trout. When and why the name changed completely eludes me. I imagine the first Breadcrust was tied by a grouse hunter. The tail of the eastern ruffed grouse is the most important part of the fly.

1 tie the Breadcrust from size 8 to 18. A size 8 works well on the Bighorn, where it probably resembles the shrimp in the river. On the Cheeseman stretch of the South Platte, a size 18 will take trout after trout. And those are educated trout that have been caught and released several times. During a float trip down the Deschutes, my Guide was so impressed with the fly that I had to give him all I had with me. Numbers 12 and 14 work exceptionally well on the - Madison and other rivers in the Yellowstone area. Summing it up, I have had excellent results on the Breadcrust from Scotland to Oregon, and from Alaska to Australia.

Tying the Breadcrust is easy, but getting the proper grouse tails can be difficult. The best tails are found on brown phase birds. Tails are sometimes available from eastern supply houses, and occasionally from fly shops in the Denver and Colorado Springs area.

Quill Preparation The grouse tail must be prepared in advance. With scissors, trim the flue from the quill. You want the quill to have some flue left with the appearance of saw teeth.

Soak the trimmed quills in water, and then split them with a razor blade. The top portion of the quill is retained. Keep the quills wet and scrape out the white pith. The quills are now ready for tying and should be kept wet. Besides the grouse quills, you will need dark colored wool, lead, and soft grizzly hen hackle.

After tying a dozen, put them in the palm of your hand. You will be surprised at how I buggy they look. This is a fly that not only catches fishermen, it catches trout!

Hook: Nymph style, size 8-l8.
Body: Dark wool (brown, olive, grey or black.)
Rib: Prepared grouse quill.
Hackle: Soft hen grizzly.

Leon Cheeka Version

Hook: Nymph Style, size 10-14
Weighting: Lead or Brass Wire
Body: Orange wool.
Rib: Prepared grouse quill.
Hackle: Soft hen grizzly.