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Mercer Poxyback
By B. Moose Peterson

This is a slight variation on the very popular Mercer Poxyback. I tie in these colors which I've found the most effective for the Eastern Sierra, California. I have lighter bodies with darker backs (the more typical pattern) for Nothern California which works really well there. I use tan thread with the lighter variations. Because the goal is a thin profile for the fly, I use the thinnest thread with the fewest wraps that I can get away with. I tie this fly really fast so I don't really worry about making it too pretty. This one was tied on a #16 TMC 200R. It's a really easy fly to crank out which is great because the sooner I can get it in the water, the more fun to be had! Fish it on a dead drift. Check it after each catch, the tail and gills take a beating and if either are damaged, I replace the fly.

Materials List:

    Hook:   14-18 TMC 200R.

    Thread:   Brown 8/0.

    Weight:   5-6 wraps .15 lead (under thorax).

    Tail:   Pheasant, 3 barbs.

    Back stripe:   Olive Ez-Dub, small.

    Rib:  Flashabou.

    Gill:   White Ostrich.

    Body:   Brown Ez-Dub, small.

    Wing case:   Turkey / 5 min Epoxy.

    Legs:   Partridge, white.

    Thorax:   Brown Ez-Dub, small.

Instructions - Mercer Poxyback:

    1. I attach 5-6 wraps of .15 lead weight. I use this for weighting as well as to bulk up the thorax. This is optional, you can weight the line instead if preferred.

    2. Start your thread as usual, slightly securing the lead wraps as move your thread back to the bend. Stop just in front of the barb.

    3. Tie in three barbs of pheasant tail. A slight split between the three barbs is a good thing. I separate them once I cut them from the feather and change their order so they won't reattach themselves to each other. Tie the tail slightly shorter than normal proportions would have.

    4. Tie in Flashabou with a maximum of two wraps.

    5. Tie in the back olive stripe slightly in front of the Flashabou tie in. The goal is to avoid a lump at the tail. Tie in with a maximum of two wraps.

    6. Tie in the body Ez-Dub and snug down with a maximum of two wraps. Advance the thread up the shank to the first wrap of lead.

    7. Tightly wrap the Ez-Dub to the shank and move it forward to the first wrap of lead weight and secure with just one wrap. I don't cut the Ex-Dub at this point, but you can. I prefer to just secure it and continue on with it later to reduce the number of wraps on the shank to secure it, reducing body bulk.

    8. Bring the Olive Ez-Dub up over the top (the fly's back) and secure it with one wrap at the junction with the body EZ-Dub wrap. You don't want to pull too tightly nor have the Ez-Dub too lose. You want to "smash & smear" it down a little over the back, spreading out the dub the best you can across the top of the body dubbing. Trim.

    9. Wrap the Flashabou forward, wrapping it as tightly as you can to create slight segments. Be careful not to pull too tight on the Flashabou which will stretch it and/or break it. Tie it off at the junction of the other wraps at the first wrap of lead weight. Trim.

    10. Tie in the White Ostrich to create the gills. I just use one strand of ostrich, securing it on one side with one wrap and then angle the strand and securing it all with another wrap. I do a rough trim at this point. I cut the feather to the perfect length after I am all done tying the fly and can look down and see all the proportions. Gills are short and close to the body after their final cut.

    11. I put a drop of head cement on top of the two wraps securing the ostrich. While still wet, I place the turkey wing case on top and secure with two wraps. The turkey wing case is a real narrow wing case, no more the two barbs wider than the dubbed body.

    12. Bring the thread forward to the front of the lead weight and then wrap the body Ez-Dub to the front. You'll note I've angled the dub wrapping. This gives a slight tapered dimension to the thorax. The dubbing is a single wrap as it is advanced forward. Tie off with two wraps and trim.

    13. Tie in Partridge legs with minimum wraps and trim. I prefer white/black segmented partridge but all brown barbs works as well.

    14. Using a bodkin, place it at the base of the turkey wing case and fold the turkey over it, bringing the turkey up to the eye. Secure with two wraps, trim and make your head.

    15. I typically tie up 10 -15 flies in various sizes all at once. These are all stuck into a Styrofoam cup. It's then that I apply epoxy to all of the flies at once. I use the simple 5 min epoxy. I place a drop of epoxy on the wing case and then carefully move it about on the wing case so it's well covered. Use care not to get any epoxy on the legs. This is especially true as the epoxy starts to dry and gets "stringy." I tend to get a little on the head and move it around a little in an attempt to make eyes. While doing this, it might get some in the hook eye which is easy to clean out.

    16. Finished fly, top and side views. ~ B. Moose Peterson

    About Moose:

    Moose is a professional wildlife photographer, and obviously a fine fly tyer, who lives in Mammoth Lakes, CA. He has an extensive website to furnish wildlife photographers with information to make the most of their photographic pursuits. You will find it at:

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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