RUBBER LEGS STONEFLY NYMPH
In mid April ‘10, I was fishing the South Fork of the Snake out around Ririe. I was fishing a single rubber legs stonefly nymph under an indicator in a fairly fast, deep riffle. The indicator dipped and I raised the rod tip. In the exceptionally clear water, I saw a large trout headed for the other side of the river, in a big hurry. No doubt about it – a very large brown trout. Directly in front of me, a step off the bank would have put me in five feet of water. Across and downstream was a shallow fast riffle. I didn’t want him going there. When I put the brakes on his run, he simply broke off the 3X tippet and took the nymph for a ride. My guess is that he went in the mid to upper 20 inches. The biggest brown I have hooked up with on the South Fork.
This fly is probably one of the best known and most fished stonefly nymphs in the Intermountain West in different sizes and colors for Salmonflies, Golden Stones, and Skwalas. It goes by any number of names – Bob’s, Pat’s, Bennet’s, etc. The most common reference is simply a “rubber legs.” Say that anywhere in the Intermountain West and most fly fishers will know what you are referring to. My personal choice for colors is brown for the big Salmonflies, a variegated yellow, brown, orange for Golden Stones, and a variegated green and yellow for Skwalas. Legs can be fashioned from a variety of materials, but I prefer amber super floss.
- Size 6 4XL streamer hook
- Black 6/0 Uni Thread
- .25 non lead wire
- Dark brown medium chenille
- Amber super floss
Step 1: Before starting the thread, wraps 20-24 turns of the .25 non lead wire.
Step 2: Start the thread and secure the wire. Then tie in the antennae so they point out over the eye of the hook. I like to wrap the tying thread back from the final tie in position, loop the super floss around the thread, and wrap the thread over the hook. Then take a couple more wraps to secure the floss in place. Separate the strands of floss to either side of the hook and pull forward. Wrap along the floss to the final tie in position.
Step 3: Wrap the thread to the rear of the hook shank. Tie in the tails out over the back of the hook using the same method employed to tie in the antennae.
Step 4: Tie in the chenille just ahead of the tails. Wrap the tying thread forward to about mid shank. Wrap the chenille forward to where the tying thread is, usually about five turns. Take a couple wraps over the chenille and pull it back out of the way. Advance the thread several turns. Loop the floss for the rear legs over the thread, take a couple turns to secure it to the hook, separate the strands either side of the hook, pull the legs back and wrap over them with the tying thread right up against the chenille.
Step 5: Advance the tying thread to the position for the middle set of legs. Wrap the chenille forward to that point, usually just two turns. Repeat the process described in Step 4 for adding the middle legs.
Step 6: Advance the tying thread to the position for the front legs. Repeat the process described in Step 5. Whip finish and add head cement. I usually use a five or six turn whip finish, and maybe a second one, and apply a liberal dose of head cement.
The finished fly will look something like this.
If the legs seem too long, trim them to suit your sense of what will work for you. Generally, the rear legs will be somewhat longer than the middle legs, and the front legs will be a bit shorter than the middle legs.
I’ve seen this fly tied, and have tied it myself, with several different tying sequences. Some folks like to tie in the tails and antennae and all the legs before starting with the chenille. That didn’t work for me. I finally settled on the method shown here for two reasons – it lets me control the leg placement better, and it results in a bulletproof fly. Recently, on Rock Creek MT, I landed between 20 and 25 cutthroat and 5 mountain whitefish, plus had a number of hits and long distance releases on a single fly, and put it back in the fly box at the end of the day to be fished again.
This fly meets my three basic criteria – effective, simple, and durable. A worthy addition to any fly box carried to trout streams inhabited by Salmonflies, Golden Stones, and Skwalas.
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