Fly Of The Week
Morrisfoam Golden Stone
Morrisfoam Golden Stone
By Skip Morris

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Fly Tying Terms

Morrisfoam Golden Stone

Those-in-the-know will tell you that to the trout fisher, the golden stone is just as important as the famous salmonfly, perhaps even more important. That is, they will tell you this if they are first given sodium penothal. That's the problem with those-in-the-know: they like to know what those-not-in-the-know don't know. But I know what they know, which is why I can tell you what those-in-the-know, know. And it's time you knew.

Each spring or early summer (here in Oregon it's around mid-May; in the Rocky Mountains it's about a month later); giant, corpulent orange-bellied stoneflies called salmonflies begin emerging from and fluttering about a few western rivers. Regardless of what trout do, anglers go into a frenzy, generally a sort of quiet frenzy. Around Portland, Oregon, fly fishers all seem to be planning trips and with raised eyebrows saying, "I hear the salmonflies are coming off the Deschutes" and asking, "What have you heard about the salmonflies?" I like seeing fly fishers excited - it's got to be good for our sport, overall. But they never this this excited over the golden stone, and that seems a little crazy.

The golden stonefly hatches from nearly every western river that has some quick water, in other words nearly every western river. But the salmonfly emerges in significant numbers for only a precious few rivers. Therefore, the goldenstone hatch is the more common and more accessible of the two. In the Deschutes River, the salmonfly shows first, followed soon by the golden. Their hatches often overlap. In my experience, the goldens come off the Deschutes in roughly equal numbers to the salmonflies. So here is a great salmonfly river, and yet it produces just as many golden stones.

My friends-in-the-know (don't worry, I won't start into that again) - who include guides, outdoor writers, and even an entomologist - agree that the golden's habit of dropping to the water to release its eggs makes it more available to trout than the salmonfly, which usually performs an aerial egg release.

The points behind all of this are (1) that the goldenstone fly is of vital importance to the western fly fisher and (2) that I'm going to show you how to tie my soft-foam imitation of one. Though I'll tie my golden-stone version, the tying of the salmonfly version is identical. The only differences between the two flies are color and, sometimes, size.

. . .[they] have proved themselves on western trout. I invite you to prove them on eastern trout. (After all, they could easily be adapted for imitating eastern stone.)

In a stonefly imitation, foam and an extended body are a blessing - they help keep the fly afloat in swift, broken currents. Stoneflies hatch from such water, so the adults often wind up back in it. But often enough, stonefly adults wind up in gentle back eddies and quiet water where trout have plenty of opportunity for close inspection. For their clean outline and detail, the Morrisfoam stone fish here as well as they do in fast water.

My greatest experience is with Morrisfoam stones of Ethafoam, but I like what soft-foam has to offer - greater durability, inherent color - so I now use it more often.

Morrisfoam Golden Stone

    Hooks:  Short shank (regular shank as an alternate, dry fly, size 8. (The hook shown is a Tiemco 921.)
    Thread:  Gold or yellow 3/0.
    Tails:  A tan (or brown) turkey flat (or other body feather).
    Body:  Antique-gold soft-foam (or a similar color such as yellow or yellow colored over with a gold marking pen - I don't think exact color is critical) or colored Ethafoam, about 1/8" to 3/16" thick.

    Wing:  Ethafoam colored tan (or brown), 1/16" thick or less.
    Legs:  Tan (or brown, yellow, or gold), medium - or fine-diameter round rubber-strands.
    Head and Back:  The same foam used for the body.

Tying Instructions:

1. Mount a beading needle in your vise. Lightly start the thread on the needle. Strip the fibers from the sides of the tail feather; then snip the center from the tip leaving short split-tails.

2. Mix up some epoxy and dab a tiny amount onto the thread-turns. Tie in the tail feather by its stem as shown.

3. Snip a strip of foam about one-shank wide. Trim the edges at one end of the strip to a short, blunt taper as shown. Tie in the tip of the taper at the feather's tie-in pont, on the far side of the needle.

4. Advance the thread a turn or two over both the needle and the stem, (not the foam); them form a segment in the foam with two snug thread-turns. Continue making segments in this manner until there are six or seven. Add a Skip's whip over the last thread-turns, and then trim the thread.

5. Slide the foam abdomen off the needle. Remove the needle from your vise. Mount a hook in your vise. Start the thread at about midshank, spiral it to the bend, half hitch it there, remove the hook from your vise. Push the hook's point through the center and out the bottom of the last segment, opposite the seam. Return the hook to your vise.

6. Add a bit of epoxy at the hook's bend, secure the last foam segment with a few new thread-turns over the old, spiral the thread over both shank and feather stem to the eye. Trim the stem.

7. Add a bit of epoxy along the shank, up to the eye. Lift the foam up and forward, and then secure it at the eye with several thread-turns. Work the thread back a few turns, 1/16'" or slightly more; this should form a short thread collar.

8. Angle the thread back over the top of the abdomen to about midshank. Two two full truns there. Again over the top, angle the thread forward to the front of the foam abdomen. The abdomen now has two segments and the thread should cross itself over the front segment.

9. Cut a wing from thin foam-sheeting in the shape shown. (I still use colored Ethafoam for this.) tie in the wing behind the eye, projecting back over the body. The wind should reach a bit beyond the end of the abdomen.

10. Trim the stub end of the wing's base. Work the thread to the rear of the thread collar behind the eye. Pull the front of the foam up, and then tightly back. The eye with push right through Ethafoam; but if you've used a soft-foam, you may have to poke a hole in it with your scissor tips for the eye to reach through.

11. With the foam back and stretched slightly, take a few tight securing thread-turns. Angle the thread back over the first segment, and then take one full turn of thread. Angle the thread back over the second segment, and then take a full turn there. The thread should now be at the bend.

12. Loop a short section of rubber-strand over the thread the slide the section to one side of the hook. Do the same on the other side. Draw the strands back out of your way and angle the thread forward over the foam segment. Take a full turn of thread at the front of that segment.

13. Pull one, then the other, rubber-strand forward and secure both to the sides of the abdomen.

14. Draw the strands back out of your way again, and then advance the thread forward over the next segment - this should leave the thread at the thread-turns just behind the head. Add a Skip's whip, and then trim the thread.

15. If it is too long, trim the end of the foam where it extends over the wing. Trim the legs to stonefly-length. If there is a bulge of foam obstructing the eye from beneath, trim it away and trim the underside of the thorax if the [hook] gape seems crowded. Color the body with a marking pen if needed. The Morrisfoam Stone is complete - just try to sink it.

Here is a Morrisfoam Stone tied on a long-shank hook [also as shown at the top] Simply create three or four segments on the needle, the rest on the shank. Sometimes a regular or long-shank hook can balance this fly, and hook fish that are nipping at the fly rather than taking it whole.

For the Salmonfly version:

    Hooks:  Short shank (regular shank as an alternate, dry fly, size 8 and 6.
    Thread:  Orange 3/0.
    Tails:  Brown (or black) turkey flat (or other body feather).
    Body:  Orange soft-foam marked with a dark-brown marking marking pen until the orange is subdued or Ethafoam, about 1/8" to 3/16" thick.

    Wing:  Ethafoam colored brown, 1/16" thick or less.
    Legs:  Brown, (or black), medium - or fine-diameter round rubber-strands.
    Head and Back:  The same foam used for the body.

~ Skip Morris

We thank Frank Amato Publications Inc. for use permission for this excerpt from Tying Foam Flies.

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