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Emergent Sparkle Pupa
Emergent Sparkle Pupa
Skip Morris
Photos by the Author

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Emergent Sparkle Pupa

With the help of scuba equipment, Gary LaFontaine studied caddisflies and trout's response to them. This research brought fly fishers a number of new fly patterns, and the most widely accepted of these is probably the Sparkle Pupa. There are actually two forms of the Sparkle Pupa: the Emergent Sparkle Pupa and the Deep Sparkle Pupa. Here we will explore the Emergent Sparkle Pupa. . . Both can be tied in a broad variety of color combinations - olive, gold, brown, yellow, white, green, orange - whatever suggests the natural. As with the Gray and Yellow Emergent Pupa listed, the veil color echoes the body color.

"Sparkle yarn," a yarn made of synthetic fiber called "antron" gives the Sparkle Pupas their unique appearance. This yarn creates an effect similar to that of the gasses built up under the real pupa's shuck. There is now a spooled antron which requires no combing, some tiers have switched to it, while others remain faithful to the original yarn for its wispy fine fibers. The method Gary used to create the yarn bubble on his Sparkle Pupas produces just the right effect, but after tying a few hundred of them and experimenting, I worked out the method described here, as I find it to be quick and effective.


Hook:  Standard dry fly, sizes 20 to 8 (the hook shown is a Mustad 94840).

Thread:  Gray 8/0 or 6/0.

Veil:  Yellow antron yarn.

Body:  Half-and-half gold antron dubbing and pale-yellow fur dubbing.

Wing:  Gray deer hair.

Head:  Dark-gray fur dubbing.

Tying Steps:

1. Start the thread at midshank. Separate two sections from a length of four-section yarn. Comb the two sections with a fine-tooth comb. (Tiny hooks will require only a single section.) Tie in the combed yarn at midshank using the pinch. Trim the yarn's end.

2. Pull the yarn back and hold down so that it slips around the shank. Hold the yarn under modest tension as you spiral the thread to the bend. The idea here is to distribute the fibers around the shank.

3. Dub a substantial body up two-thirds of the shank.

4. Cut the yarn so it is about two shanks in length. Hold the yarn back from the hook about one shank's length. Push the yarn straight at the rear of the shank to make the yarn fibers balloon out to the sides. You may have to try a couple of angles to get the fibers evenly distributed.

5. Push the balloon straight at the shank and keep pushing until your finger and thumb travel to just in front of the eye and the fibers are taut and distributed around the body.

6. Grasp the body, and the fibers, in the middle of the shank with the thumb and finger of your other hand. Slide your grasp again to just in front of the eye. Now the fibers are distributed evenly around the body and stroked to even tension.

7. Still holding the fibers, push your grasp back to the front of the body which will again make the yarn fibers balloon. Now the veil is formed; you need only secure it. This is the time to tug out a few fibers with a scissor point to suggest part of the shuck, although some tiers don't bother with it.

Work the bobbin and thread around the shank and yarn fibers under light tension, roll the thumb and finger back in a sort of pinch, and pull the thread right. Working the bobbin for the turn of thread is awkward - you have to let it drop down the far side and then regrasp it - but it eventually gets efficient.

8. Add a few tight thread turns, and then trim the yarn. Comb and stack a bunch of deer hair. Use the reverse pinch to tie in the hair atop the hook. Trim the hair's butts and dub a short head over them. Complete the usual thread head. Trim the loose shuck fibers to about shank length, if there are any.

Emergent Sparkle Pupa

Fishing the Emergent Sparkle Pupa:

The Emergent Sparkle Pupa is usually fished dead drift, just under the surface; but an occasional twitch from a line mend, dropping the fly nearly on a trout's nose, and the Leisenring lift are all techniques that Gary describes as options. ~ Skip Morris

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

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