A few years ago I saw a foam wing salmon fly nymph pattern that was killer looking and very popular on the Yellowstone River in Montana. The fly was called “Real Black Stone” if I remember, but I never found the pattern available commercially and never saw a recipe or a tutorial. The fly was more complicated with eyes, individually cut wing case segments, knotted rubber legs, and all black dubbing of some sort. This is my version, but I added the tan dubbing, and brown rib for better contrast and realism, and simplified the pattern by deleting the eyes, the knotted legs, and forming the wing case out of one piece of foam instead of several pieces.
Notes; if you are worried about the foam adding to much buoyancy, don’t. The added lead more than makes up for the foam. If you are still worried, add more lead, if you are still worried add a 3.2 mm tungsten bead behind antennae, if you are still worried use .5 mm foam for wing case instead of 1mm, and if you are still worried use thin skin and forget about the foam altogether.
Hook; TMC 200R #6
Thread; 6/0 or 140 Denier Tan and Black
Tail; Black Goose Biots
Abdomen; Tan Micro Chenille, Waspi Antron dubbing Chestnut
Rib; Small Brown Holo Tinsel
Thorax; Light Tan Waspi Sow Scud dubbing
Wing Case; 1mm Black Foam
Rear Legs; Black Flexi Floss
Front Legs; extra-small Black Round rubber
Antennae; extra-small Black Round rubber
Weight; .025 lead wire
Step 1; tie on antennae, form a small head and whip finish if you are tying several flies or continue to step 2
Step 2; tie on lead wire down one side of hook shank, and leave a gap near the hook eye. If you want a heavier fly tie on an additional length of lead wire on the opposite side too.
Step 3; twist off extra lead and wrap thread several times to secure
Step 4; tie a long length of micro chenille on top of hook, this forms the anal gills and adds bulk to the fly
Step 5; tie on a long length of brown holo tinsel
Step 6; wrap chenille fwd and trim at the point of the gap. Note; wrap one wrap of chenille behind rib, so the rib doesn’t slip off the chenille and loosen. This is basic fly tying technique but a lot of tiers still miss this important step.
Step 7; tie in goose biots for the tail, stop the thread about 1/8 inch fwd of the end of the chenille to form the anal gills
Step 8; apply, chestnut Antron dubbing evenly and sparsely to thread
Step 9; dub fwd covering the tan chenille, stop dubbing at about ½ the hook shank length
Step 10; wrap the tinsel fwd about 6-8 turns and tie off
Step 11; tie in rear legs so that they angle back, trim to desired length. I leave them long for more movement
Step 12; whip finish black thread, and go have a drink, you’re about half done
Step 13; start your tan thread
Step 14; dub a sparse amount of tan dubbing to the end of the chenille
Step 14a; prepare a 1/4 inch strip of 1mm black foam at least 2 inches long and cut a small notch in one end. I use a small Chernobyl cutter
Step 15; tie in notched end of foam wing case, the apex of the notch should be at the transition point of the tan and brown dubbing
Step 16; tie in middle legs with flexi floss, angle almost straight out
Step 17; dub around legs with additional tan dubbing and whip finish
Step 18; start your black thread again, fold foam wing case back, loop forward and tie off at the end of your tan dubbing
Step 19; begin tying down foam fwd toward hook eye
Step 19a; advance thread to just behind hook eye
Step 20; tie in front legs (round rubber) and angle slightly fwd
Step 21; fill in the gap, and around the front legs with chestnut Antron dubbing
Step 22; fold foam wing case back and secure with a few wraps of thread
Step 23; add a small amount of chestnut Antron dubbing to cover thread wraps and whip finish. Trim off excess foam in a semi-circle shape. Trim all legs and antennae to desired length.
Our friends in England have been fishing soft hackles since the late middle ages (medieval times) as some suggest they date back to the 1400’s or even earlier. The soft hackle was a little late in coming to the United States, the mid 1970’s to be exact, at least that’s when it was popularized, and like all new flies it was likely the “hot” fly for awhile. Fast forward to the present and you might get a response like this; “soft hackles, are you kidding??? Do they really work??? Everything’s wrong with the technique, I’ll stick with indicator nymphing”. Ok I’ll admit this may have been my own response several years ago. However, I have now realized that soft hackles are my friend and have solved the toughest hatches.
A few years ago the Double Whammy was born on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park. It was a miserable cold, snowy, gusty early June day, Blue Wing Olives were coming off in droves and I could not get a single fish to rise to my sparkle dun. I tried dead drifting nymphs to no avail, dead drifting emerger patterns in the surface film was hopeless as well. I was about ready to call it quits and was reeling in my emerger and “wham” a nice trout hit the fly. Suddenly the light came on….soft hackles … I looked in my box and hidden in the dark recesses was a single #18 PMD soft hackle. I tied it on and fooled a couple of fish before it broke off on an aggressive strike. That night I tied up several BWO # 20 Double Whammy’s, and enjoyed epic fishing the next day. The Double Whammy wasn’t officially named until a few months ago when I was fishing one of my favorite spots on the Middle Provo River. A Blue Wing Olive hatch erupted and what looked like a lifeless hole before, was alive with porpoising fish, some real hogs in the mix. Tried a dry…of course no takes (I’ll always try dries first). Next, tied on a Double Whammy and sweet success once again, and some of the bigger browns where pushing a respectable 18-19″. Early on, I broke off a fish on the swing; it happens when fishing soft hackles. Later I netted a nice brown, and while removing the Double Whammy I noticed a BWO in its mouth and thought to myself “no wonder they eat this fly it looks just like the natural, but wait. …that’s an artificial, hey, it’s my Double Whammy the one that broke off earlier”. I caught the same trout twice, same fly, (a Double Whammy so to speak), awesome. The fly is now officially named.
Here’s a little secret, tie the Double Whammy in white #20 and you’ll catch fish during one the toughest hatches I’ve ever experienced, the dreaded white drake hatch. The hatch is nicknamed the “white curse” and for good reason, many an angler has been humbled by that hatch. White drakes hatch similar to caddis; in that they explode off the surface, trout have little time to take the duns so in most cases they don’t even bother, however a white #20 Double Whammy is absolutely deadly when swung in front of feeding fish. Soft hackle technique is quite simple, cast down and across the current, mending to achieve a dead drift allowing time for your fly to sink slightly below the surface. Towards the end of the drift a belly will form in your fly line and pull your fly broadside across the current. This is most likely when you’ll get aggressive strikes so be ready. Keep a shock loop of fly line in your hand and let go when the fish strikes. It won’t prevent break offs on the strike, but will greatly reduce them. Also, use 4X tippet minimum, go with 3X on larger flies. A softer action rod is also beneficial in bringing more fish to the net and losing fewer flies. Once you get good at it, you can cast to individual fish, and can actually see the strike, much like dry fly fishing.
Double Whammy BWO recipe:
Hook: TMC 100#20
Tail: Brown or Golden Straw Brahma hen
Body: Olive Antron fibers tightly wrapped, (not dubbed) you want the body not much thicker than the hook shank
Thorax: Killer Caddis glass bead Light olive midge size
Wing: Golden Straw Brahma hen
Apparently, I did just that. I awoke to find this little size #18 baetis nymph in my vise. Different from the baetis I normally tie, I vaguely remember dreaming about tying this fly and blending the dubbing to form the thorax. Sure enough, the thorax is blended just as I remember in the dream.
Now, where did that entire ham that was in the refrigerator go?