Fly Of The Week
The Humpy Fly
Brown Drake Emerger
By Arnie Wiese, Lincoln, NE, USA
Photos By Jim Birkholm

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

Brown Drake Emerger

My favorite river has a fairly heavy hatch of Brown Drakes that begins around July 4th and lasts for a week or longer. During the first few days of the hatch, nearly any large dry fly will take fish, but as the hatch continues the fish get more selective. This pattern was developed during those times when the fish began to refuse more generic offerings. I believe the key to this fly's success to be the slender, segmented abdomen, as changes in hackle color, tailing material, and even wing color, seem to have little positive or negative effect on the pattern's appeal. An added bonus is that the fly seems to outperform any specific spinner pattern during the spinner fall.

Materials List:

Hook:  Dai-Riki #270, Size 10 or 12.

Thread:  Brown 3/0 or 6/0.

Tail:  Brown Speckled Hen saddle fibers.

Wing:  Dun Poly-yarn or Float-Vis.

Rib:  Brown Floss.

Abdomen:  Tan Antron blend dubbing.

Thorax:  Brown nymph dubbing.

Hackle:  Brown and Grizzly mixed.

Tying Instructions:

1. Start the thread above the hook point. Wrap back to a point directly above the barb. Tie in tails at this point. Advance the thread nearly to the eye, then wrap back to about two eye-widths behind the eye. This will be the tie-in point for the wing.

2. Tie in the wing material. I prefer to tie in a loop, rather than free-ended fibers, as the loop makes it much easier to dub the thorax and wrap the hackle without trapping wing fibers. Stand the wing up. I prefer to use a single thread wrap as described by Randall Kaufmann in Tying Dry Flies.

3. Tie in the ribbing, and bind it down while wrapping the thread back to the tail. Apply dubbing to the thread (fairly thin and tight) and dub a slender abdomen. Wrap the ribbing forward and tie it off behind the wing.

4. Dub the back half of the thorax (up to the wing). The thorax should be much larger in diameter than the abdomen, and rather "rough." Prepare a brown and a grizzly hackle by trimming the "trash" from the base of the feather and stripping the barbs from the first 1/4" of stem. Tie in both hackles with the dull side down, and stems laying along the near side of the wing post. (Note: This assumes wrapping the hackle clockwise. If your personal preference is to wrap counter-clockwise, modify the tie-in accordingly.)

5. Dub the front half of the thorax. Wrap the hackles and tie them off behind the eye. Trim the hackles, whip finish head, trim the thread.

6. Trim the wing to shape. I prefer to gather all the fibers and make one cut, from front to rear, on about a 45 degree angle from horizontal. Place a drop of thinned head cement, or lacquer, on the base of the wing where the wing meets the hackle. The cement should disappear quickly, and when dry, will bomb-proof the wing and hackle. "Rough-up" the thorax with a toothbrush or gun cleaning brush. That's it!! ~ Arnie Wiese

Fishing Suggestions

The fish will usually tell you how to fish this fly. The hatch generally comes off in the late afternoon, and fish will be rising in runs and seam lines. The best presentation seems to be a dead drift over rising fish. On sunny days, the adults will begin laying eggs over runs and riffles by mid-morning. When the bright sky would normally put the fish down, they will be found rising almost recklessly under the swarms of egg-laying adults. When no fish are rising, the fly is often successful if drifted through likely feeding or resting lies. A stiff leader is required, as the fly will twist light tippets. I generally use 4x, no longer than 9 feet.

Other sizes and color combinations work well for other mayfly species. A size 16, in pheasant tail nymph colors, produces well during PMD hatches; and an olive or gray 18 often takes fish during Baetis hatches.

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