Delaware River Hellgrammite
By Floyd N. Franke, Roscoe, NY, USA
Drawings by Thom Porterfield
Excerpt from Patterns of the Masters, 1995
Published by Oregon Council, FFF

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

Delaware River Hellgrammite

It has been almost five years [in 1995] since I created this pattern for taking large Delaware River rainbows during the hatchless summer doldrums. Since then I have fished it with success everywhere I go, including the Madison River in Montana and the White River in Arkansas. The greatest thrill, however, has been hearing from others around the country who call or write to share their experiences with, and enthusiasm for, the versatile fly. The strongest following comes from trout fishermen who concentrate their efforts on catching big fish and those fishing for smallmouth bass in the lower Delaware and the Susquehanna River. The Delaware River Hellgrammite was featured in the September, 1992 issue of Fly Fisherman.

Materials List:

Hook:  Eagle Claw D281F #6; Mustad 3665A #6.

Thread:  Black 6/0.

Tails/Pinchers:  Fine black rubber.

Abdomen:  Large olive or peacock chenille wound through a black hen hackle.

Thorax:  Large olive chenille topped (wingcase style) with 1/16" thick closed-cell foam.

Legs:  Fine black rubber.

Tying Instructions:

1. Tie heavy lead wire (0.35") along both sides of the hook shank beginning approximately 3/16 inch from the eye and extending to a point halfway between the point and the barb. Tie in two pieces of rubber at the point just above the barb, then bring them forward along the top of the hook. Bring the thread forward to the eye, thus forming the tails and the pinchers.

2. Return the tying thread to the tail and tie in the chenille followed by a hen saddle feather, which is tied by the tip with the concave (or underside) of the feather facing forward.

3. Pull the hen feather forward and spiral the tying thread through the barbs to a point at 3/5 the shank length. Secure the feather at this point with extra wraps of tying thread and cut off the excess feather.

4. Tie in a 1/4 inch wide strip of foam on the top of the hook and three pairs of rubber legs underneath and slightly forward of the foam.

5. Spiral the chenille forward through the hen feather, past the wingcase, and through the legs to a point just behind the hook eye. Secure the chenille with two extra turns of tying thread and cut off the excess. Bring the foam forward to form the windcase and secure it just behind the eye. Whip-finish to form a small head, being careful not to cut the pinchers.

6. Bend the thorax of the fly up slightly. Trim the tails of the fly, legs, pinchers and gills to length. Although they are quite short on the natural, a little extra length add fish-attracting movement to the fly. Place a touch of lacquer on the whip-finish. Optimal brown highlights can be applied to the top and bottom of the abdomen with a waterproof marking pen.

Fishing Suggestions

Since the preferred habitat of the hellgrammite (Dobson fly larva) is in well aerated riffles, that is where I concentrate my efforts. Using short line (slow and deep) nymphing technique I cover the riffle's entire length in a series of short drifts paying partifular attention to holding water behind rocks, head of pools, etc. Although the fly itself, is weighted extra weight, split-shot is often needed. Change the amount of weight often to match changing water flows as you move through the riffle. An occasional tap of the split shot against the top of rocks as the fly moves downstreams serves to identify a good drift. No taps and you're probably too far off the bottom. ~ Floyd N. Franke Phone: (607) 498-4508.

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