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Tying And Fishing Emergers

Posted by Bill 17/03/2017 0 Comment(s) Bill,

As the name implies, these flies represent insects in the process of hatching, during which time they are understandably preoccupied. As many as 30% of them never make it, get stuck and die. As Bob Wyatt says in his excellent book 'Trout Hunting' trout are predators and are programmed to go for the easy meal whenever available so given a choice between a stricken hatchling and a fully emerged fly about to take off, the fish will go for the helpless, drifting failed emerger.


The flies described below are all variants on a theme in that they all have a curved abdomen which is under the surface of the water when the fly is floating. This is achieved by using a Varivas Grub hook, 2200 barbless in sizes 16 or 18, these are bigger than you might expect from the size number and were never intended to be used for a 'dry' fly. These flies account for the majority of my dry fly catch and are good search patterns, bringing fish to the surface when they are not actually rising.


I fish these flies in the same way as a conventional dry fly. If there are no fish rising then I concentrate on the run at the head of the pool, starting at the downstream end, casting upstream to the edge of the run on my side of the river and then in stages across the run to the edge furthest away from me, move up and repeat. Pool tails are also worth spending time on.  This style of fly appeals equally well to both Trout and Grayling.


At first I was using Klinkhammers but I always felt that the hook was too long and in the smaller sizes the gape too small. I consulted Pat Stevens and he recommended Varivas grub hooks. I started experimenting, initially with a peacock herl body, easier than dubbing for a novice tyer, and later with hare's mask. I used a grizzle parachute hackle because that was the only saddle I had and white or pink TMC Aero Wing for the post. Thus was born the “Pinkhammer”. I was amazed to find that it caught fish !. The pink post  increases the visibility of the fly, particularly in faster water with a lot of foam on it. The fish don't seem to mind but the purists can use white or grey if they prefer.


The Pinkhammer

    Hook: Varivas Grub 2200 black or bronze barbless #16       

    Thread: Bennechi 12/0 tobacco or light dun

    Abdomen: Hare's mask

    Rib: fine gold wire or tying thread

    Thorax: Hare's ear or other dark, spiky dubbing

    Wing: post pink or white Aero Wing or Antron

    Hackle: traditionally grizzle but can be whatever you like


Apologies to the expert fly tyers but I will describe the method of tying a parachute hackle in some detail:


The special techniques needed for tying parachute hackle flies are creating the post and tying the hackle. I like to use Aero Wing but Antron yarn works just as well. Aero Wing is quite expensive but the material divides easily into 4 sets of fibres, one length of the card is 50mm long and provides 4 flies. After some practice you can use pieces 25mm long to make a post so getting 8 flies from one length. If you are using Antron make sure it is not too bulky as the individual Antron fibres are thicker than Aero Wing.


Start the thread at the eye of the hook and go down to the start of the bend and then bring the thread back to the middle of the straight part. Pass the post material under the hook and hold both ends in your left hand (if right handed ) above the hook. Wind the thread round the post using your right hand and the spare fingers of your left hand until the wrap is 2 or 3 mm high and then return to the bottom. You can now release the post. I like to make a couple of figure of 8 turns to secure the post. It helps to have a vice with an uncluttered head to perform this manoeuvre but you do not need a gallows tool. Take the thread down the bend, tie in the wire if used, dub a slender tapered body back up to the post and rib with wire or thread. The hackle feather barbs should be about 5mm long.  Strip 5-10mm of barbs from the hackle feather and hold it vertically against the post, 'good' side away from you, with the barbs about 2 mm above the wrap on the post. Tie the hackle to the post and secure the remaining stem on the hook behind the eye. Take the thread to the eye, dub on the thorax material and wind back to the post. Wind the hackle down the post, 1 ½ to 2 turns is enough, more will make it too dense and will not improve the flotability. Take 3 turns round the post under the hackle, another tricky moment and cut off the surplus feather. At this point I trim the post to length as it makes the whip finish easier. Put a little head cement on the thread and tie off with a 3 turn whip finish round the post under the wing.


This was my first parachute hackle emerger, it still gets an outing but I tend to use one of the following flies more often.


The next two flies are simple variants of the Pinkhammer.


The Quill Bodied Parachute Emerger  

    Hook: Varivas Grub 2200 black or bronze barbless #18

    Thread: Bennechi 12/0 white or light dun

    Abdomen:  stripped peacock eye quill in natural

    Thorax: Hare's ear or other dark, spiky dubbing

    Wing Post:  white or pink Aero Wing or Antron

    Hackle:  traditionally grizzle but whatever you like


The tying of the post is exactly the same as the Pinkhammer. Take the thread down the bend and tie in the quill with the dark edge down.I prefer to tie in the thick end of the quill, others disagree with me. Take the thread back up and down to create a slender, tapered body. Park the thread by the post. If you have one, it makes life easier to use a bobbin rest but it is not essential. Using a needle apply a thin layer of head cement to the body. This will make the fly a little more durable. Make the first turn of the quill below the tying in point and wrap up the body in touching but not overlapping turns. Tie in the quill behind the post. Tie the thorax and hackle in the same way as the Pinkhammer. Put another thin coat of head cement on the body. I use this fly on slower runs and pools as it has a more delicate appearance.


Quill Bodied Paraloop Emerger                             

This fly can also be tied with a paraloop hackle and no post. There are   plenty of videos on YouTube showing how to tie a paraloop hackle. They make it look simple in the same way that snooker on TV looks dead easy !. Coch-y-Bonddu Books are selling Ian Moutter's book, 'Tying Flies the Paraloop Way' for £7.95, a substantial discount on the original £30. I do not intend to describe the method but the hackle gives a good impression of wings and legs in a tangle.




Peacock Herl Bodied Parachute Emerger

    Hook: Varivas Grub 2200 black or bronze barbless #16

    Thread: Bennechi 12/0 dark green or dark dun

    Abdomen: one herl from a peacock tail feather

    Thorax: Lavender UV Ice dubbing or other dubbing plus sparkle

    Wing post:  pink  Aero Wing or Antron

    Hackle:  traditionally grizzle but whatever you like



The same method as above but using a peacock herl for the body and with another turn of hackle if you wish. Omit the last coat of head cement on the body!. This is a 'bling' fly. I use it in faster and turbulent water.


The Deer Hare Emerger

Bob Wyatt's famous fly as described in 'Trout Hunting'. In this he says that, in reality, only two flies are needed, a Deer Hair Emerger and an Elk Hair Caddis. 'Trout Hunting' opened my eyes to many aspects of river fly fishing, I throughly recommend it.

    Hook:   Varivas Grub 2200 black or bronze barbless #16

    Thread:  Bennechi 12/0 tobacco or light dun

    Abdomen:  hare's mask

    Rib: fine gold wire or tying thread

    Thorax: hare's ear

    Wing:  Deer hair un-dyed ( I use Comparadun hair )


Deer hair is hollow to help keep the deer warm, a side effect is that it floats well. Take the thread down to the start of the bend and back to the middle of the straight part of the hook. Cut a bunch of hair from the hide, it is difficult to describe how much, a little experimentation helps. Put it in a hair stacker and tap it on the table.If you take it out of the stacker with your right hand fingers it will be facing the correct way for tying in. I weed out any dead and broken hairs and reduce the bunch to my desired size. The technique for tying in the wing is to take a turn of thread round the bunch and as you lower the hair onto the hook pull the thread vertically upwards. Then take a turn round the hook. This will stop the hair from spinning round the hook shank. Be careful with the tension on the thread as you secure the wing, too tight and you will cut through the hair. The wing should be about as long as the hook. Cut the waste hair with a taper. Continue as before with the body and the rib. Lift the wing with your fingers and tie some thread wraps under the wing. Dub a little hare's ear on and tie a small thorax in front of the wing. The wing should be at about 45 degrees to the hook shank. This is my 'go-to' fly for spring, summer and autumn, particularly in the morning.


The CDC Wing Emerger

    Hook:  Varivas Grub 2200 black or bronze barbless #16

    Thread:  Bennechi 12/0 tobacco or light dun

    Abdomen:  hare's mask

    Rib: fine gold wire or tying thread

    Thorax: hare's ear

    Wing: CDC


A simple variant of the DHE, the wing is 2 or 3 CDC feather tips. There are 2 ways to tie this fly. The first is to tie in the same way as the DHE, just replacing the deer hair with the CDC. As shown in the photo, the alternative is to tie the body first and then tie in the CDC with the tips facing back over the hook point, cut off the waste and dub the thorax over the CDC stems. Then take the feathers forward over the thorax and tie in behind the eye, thus forming a wing case. Wrap some turns of thread tightly in front of the wing to raise it up a bit. This fly floats well as long as you have some suitable flotant for the CDC such as Frog's Fanny. I use it in faster, rougher water.

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