Aquatic sow bug – A crustacean, not an insect and trout nibble at sow bugs whenever they get a chance. Though they’re not often selective to them, they’re certainly aware of them, and almost always willing to take an imitation if even a few of the naturals are available. Since approxi- mately 130 species of aquatic sow bugs live in North America, trout get those chances almost everywhere that you might find them. Aquatic sow bugs feed primarily on decaying vegetation. Their numbers will be greatest in still or slow- flowing water with marl bottoms, in watercress beds, or in the thick sort of bottom vegetation that is often called moss. They will be absent or of little importance in freestone streams with brisk currents and clean bottom stones.

Sow bugs do not emerge and they have hard shells, usually grey, flattened and a bit wider at the butt than at the head. They have two pairs of antennae in front with a small “v” shape at the end of each, a pair of legs that extends off each of seven thoracic segments, and a pair of forked tail- like members. It should be rigged to get them on or near the bottom. Use an indicator about the depth of the water.


HOOK – Size # 14 - 20 2x long nymph or 2x heavy curved scud. Mustad #R72 or Tiemco # 5262. THREAD – Black 8/0
RIB – Fine silver wire SHELLBACK – Gold Mylar
BODY – Gray ostrich hurl (long ones if you can) SOFT HACKLE – (Optional) Light blue dun hen


  1. Debarb- mount hook – start thread about halfway on the shank and go to just before the bend of the hook and tie in your wire. Then tie in your gold Mylar (If you have the kind with silver on one side and gold on the other tie it in with the silver side up and it will flip over to gold when bringing it forward).
  2. Tie in a couple of ostrich hurls (The longer the better) by the butt ends. Then bring your thread forward to just behind the eye of the hook.
  3. Wrap your hurl forward (Don’t make a rope with the thread – it lays the hurl down flat in spots) to just about an eyelets space behind the eye – if you come up on the hurl just tie in a couple more but remember you want a taper (fatter in the rear – thinner in the front) so tie in with the middle of the hurl instead of the butt end. Half hitch it to secure.
  4. Pet the top of the hurl down to the sides and bring your Mylar forward over the top and tie off in the front near the eyelet.
  5. Spiral wrap your wire forward. Just remember you need seven segments and the tie off, whip finish and you’re done.
  6. (Optional) Tie in a light blue dun hen feather and make a soft hackle collar by wrapping the feather two or three close wraps then tie off and using your thread do a few wraps over the front feather while petting the feather barbs backward which lays it backward. Whip finish and you’re done.

You can also tie this in brown-tan-black and even in pink. But the it would be more of an egg pattern than a sow bug.





Furled bodies are excellent for extended bodies. Many materials that are thin or stranded can be shaped into extended bodies with this technique. Add strands of Krystal Flash or any other flashy or colored material to the yarn before it is furled for more variety.


HOOK – Scud, 2x wide, 2x short, 2x heavy, sizes 18 -22
THREAD – Black 8/0 or color to match natural.
ABDOMAN – Black or color to match natural Antron yarn. Furled.
GILLS – White Antron yarn
THORAX - Fine black dubbing or color to match abdomen.


  1. Debarb hook – Mount the hook in the vise and start the thread behind the eyelet (one eyelet from the eye) and lay a thread base backward staying real close and stopping right above the hook point. This will help hold things down on the shank of the hook.
  2. Cut a 2-inch length of Antron yarn. Mount one end of the yarn to the top of the hook shank; and clip the tag end (the forward part) about 3 eyelets from the eye which leaves space for mounting the gills. Then cover the yarn butt ends and move the thread to the rear where you started tying in the abdomen (Antron yarn).
  3. Pinch the end of the yarn with your right thumb and fore finger and bring it downward toward you and below the hook point then twist the yarn clockwise into a tight cord but don’t let go or it will go weird on you. The tightness of twists will determine the tightness of the body.
  4. Use your left hand to place a dubbing needle at the position where you want the body extension to end (about the length of the hook shank), then fold the twisted yarn over the needle (with the yarn going from under the needle folding over the top) then bring the yarn on top of the hook shank and hold firmly then remove the needle and tie off where you ended the thread on the yarn. Secure with 3 or 4 wraps and clip off the tag end (part facing eyelet).
  5. Cut a 1-inch length of white Antron yarn and mount it on top of the hook shank (at the space we saved in step 2) wrap thread forward stopping just in front of the eyelet (about 1 eyelet). Then trim the yarn at the rear close to the thread wraps. Bring the thread back where you tied in the abdomen (above the hook point) while covering the butt ends of the gills (white antron yarn).
  6. Using a small amount of fine dubbing on the thread, dub the thorax with a taper (just a little) toward the front and ending at the gills (white antron yarn).
  7. Fold the white antron yarn (gills) back and put about 4-5 thread wraps in front of it to get it away from the eyelet. Tie off the thread and whip finish the head. Trim gills to desired length (about ¾ of the overall hook size is good; you can trim on the water if needed).





This reverse style can be used for a variety of emerger types. It presents a clear and uncluttered profile of the body and shuck of the insect by placing the hook bend and spear at the head of the fly. Leave your tippet ungreased so that the hook shank will sink.


HOOK – TMC101 – Mustad 3366 or other ring- eye, dry fly hook, #12 - #16
THREAD – Black 8/0
WING - White poly yarn
HACKLE – Grizzly
THORAX – Brown superfine dubbing
ABDOMEN – Stripped peacock quill (herl)
SHUCK - White antron


  1. Debarb hook – Mount the hook in the vise with the eyelet pointing down a little bit so you can tie the wing on. Start your thread about three eyelets from the eye of the hook and lay a thread base all the way into the bend of the hook (about 1/3 of the way). Cut a 3 inch length of poly yarn, then pull the yarn in half to make two wings but you may need to adjust the thickness according to the size of the hook. Next tie in the poly yarn by folding it over the thread and moving it to the top of the bend of the hook (from the back side and moving it to the top) make two or three wraps to hold it down. Then post it by making some wraps real close to the base of the wing (poly yarn), keep real close wraps and go up the wing just enough to put your hackle in ( about 4 or 5 wraps of hackle) then back down to the base (not to tight going up the wing but tighter going down).
  2. Prepare a hackle feather that is about one and a half the size of the hook gap and mount it at an angle just in front of the base (butt side at base of wing) facing the rear of the hook tying it to the front side of the wing then wrapping the bare shank of the feather up the wing and ending where you stopped your posting (this stiffens the post a little more), then wrap downward keeping close wraps each way. You should have the feather standing up right next to the wing. Do not wrap the feather yet.
  3. Dub a thorax without wax (dry)( using the superfine dubbing) a little behind the wing (about one eyelet) and in front of the wing (about 2 to 3 eyelets).
  4. With your fingers or hackle pliers wrap the hackle around the wing base (posting) about 4 or 5 wraps downward will do, then tie of in front of your thorax and clip the tag off.
  5. Re-mount the hook to a normal position then bring your thread forward to about one and a half eyelets from the eye and mount a sparse length of antron yarn for the shuck. Don’t worry about the length we will trim it after we are done. Now use the antron yarn to help you lay down a thread base over the antron and end it just in front of your thorax (dubbing), clip off tag end of yarn.
  6. Now select a long peacock herl from a sword as they are a little easier to work with. Using a pencil eraser gently rub the herl stem to remove the fibers , go easy cause we need the stem in one piece. Tie in the herl by the butt end, right in front of the thorax and wrap your thread forward and stop just in front of the shuck (antron yarn), Now you can use your hackle pliers or your fingers to wrap the herl forward keeping close wraps and even slightly over lapping each turn and end the wraps just in front of the shuck, Tie off, clip tag end, make a small head in front of the shuck and whip finish.
  7. Use a dubbing needle to apply a drop of head cement to the body for durability. Clip the wing post and the shuck to ½ the hook gap in length.





This fly is for all those members going to fish hot creek this month. It’s a very simple caddis pattern and is very effective for slow water caddis hatches that occur on hot creek throughout the fishing season. But where it really excels is when the water gets a little rougher at the head of a run. You can toss the fly in there and it is still floating when it comes on out - unless a fish has hit it of course. Designed by Eric Otzinger perhaps one of the best tiers in the world. This pattern sits low to the water and simulates the small gray sedge caddis that is prevalent on hot creek; which is a slow water spring creek. It can also be used as a mayfly emerger during pale morning dun and blue-winged olive hatches.


HOOK – light wire dry fly. Mustad #R50-94840 or Tiemco # 100 #16-#22. THREAD – 8/0 medium to dark gray.
BODY – medium to dark gray or other colors to match hatching naturals.(I used superfine).
Wing – coastal deer hair or very fine elk. HACKLE – grizzly neck.


  1. Debarb- mount hook – start your thread just before the bend of the hook – dub an ever so small taper from the rear of the hook shank to just in front of the eyelet. (About one and a half eyelet space from the eyelet).
  2. Prepare the deer hair wing by removing all the under fur with a small comb then put it in a hair stacker with the tip first to align the tips (Don’t forget to use your cruddy scissors to cut the deer hair – cause it will dull your good ones). Tie the deer hair wing in about ¾ up the shank – right about where you stopped your dubbing with the tips facing the rear of the hook it should extend just a little past the bend of the hook – but don’t clip your excess deer hair yet you will need it to help lift it as you wrap your hackle.
  3. Tie in your grizzly hackle with the dull side down and it should be one and a half to two times the hook gape and wind parachute style underneath the wing and butt ends. (Between the wing/butts and the body) make two to four turns, depending on the size of the fly and tie off.
  4. Pull the deer hair butts and hackle feather back, whip finish the head and cut off the excess deer hair leaving a small stub similar to an elk hair caddis.






If you’re always looking for a pattern that is quick to tie and also very effective then Cal Birds bird’s nest will fill your needs. It’s been around for 30 years or more and seems to be more popular each year. It’s very effective because of it being quite generic in shape and materials. Tie it with a shaggy and spiky body that gives it a lifelike and buggy quality. It can imitate a mayfly, dragonfly, damselfly and stonefly nymphs depending on the size and color you tie it in. You can also use the bead head or a leaded body if you prefer and change colors and materials to fit your needs. Opossum can be replaced by hare’s ear. Wood duck can be replaced by dyed mallard or even partridge.


HOOK – Standard nymph Mustad #3906B #16 - #6
HEAD – Gold metal bead in size to match hook
THREAD – Tan or brown 6/0 or 8/0
TAIL - Wood duck flank or dyed mallard flank to match
BODY – Australian opossum with guard hairs or hare’s mask
RIBBING – Copper wire HACKLE – Wood duck flank or dyed mallard flank to match
THORAX- Same as body


  1. Debarb hook – put bead on hook (small hole in bead first) – slide forward to the eyelet – start thread behind bead head and lay a small bump behind it to keep it in place - then bring your thread to the back of the hook shank just before the bend .
  2. Remove 3 to 8 fibers from the wood duck feather and tie them in for your tail (butts facing the eyelet and it should be the length of the shank) the number of fibers depends on the hook size. Attach the copper wire in at the point where the tail is tied in. Clip tag ends.
  3. Twist some opossum dubbing onto your thread – then dub a body a little thicker than normal with a little taper on it (thin in the rear – thicker in the front) leaving a space between the dubbed body and the bead. (You will need the space for the thorax). DUBBING TIP- Put a thin layer down first then go back and build your taper after you got your base layer down.
  4. Wind your copper wire forward in a reverse direction of the body – about 4 to 6 turns and tie off.
  5. The original pattern said to remove 12 to 20 fibers from your wood duck and carefully wrap them around the shank which is a real pain. I left the wood duck together but ran my fingers down the feather shank to fluff out the fibers then just cut a small piece from the feather (cut the shank of the feather) and you can tie in a small bunch on each side then clip it from the shank after you have it tied in securely. They should be a little shorter than the body. Just remember to lay the fibers toward you and the thread tension will roll the feather a little and fan out like you want them to do.
  6. Apply a small amount of dubbing to your thread and wind a couple of turns forward right up against the bead to form the thorax. Whip finish – apply head cement if you want.Use a dubbing needle or your bodkin to pick out the body and the thorax to make it more buggy looking.




Learning to give flies movement will make you a much better angler. Using patterns that have a lot of natural motion, such as soft-hackle wet flies, is one of the best ways to do this. Soft hackles are some of the easiest trout flies to tie, and when fished with extra movement, such as swung or stripped like streamers. They produce lifelike, pulsating motion that triggers fish into striking. Trout are like any other fish, and when presented with a fleeing prey, they rarely pass it up. Soft hackles have a very long history of catching fish. Before the dry fly came along, all fly fishing entailed fishing wet flies and soft hackle “spiders”. Spiders originated in Scotland, Northern England, and Italy more than three centuries ago. Early anglers fished these patterns downstream with rods measuring more than 10 feet long. This style of fishing still works in practically every type of trout water, from steam riffles to still waters, but you do not have to use an ultra-long fly rod, nor do you have to fish exclusively downstream. Today, a “soft hackle” refers to almost any nymph tied with a collar of hackle such as hen or partridge.


HOOK – TIEMCO TMC3761 or Equivalent, sizes 18 to 10
THREAD – Fluorescent Pink and Brown 8/0 (70 Denier)
BEAD - Black Tungsten
TAIL – Pheasant Tail Fibers
ABDOMAN – Pheasant Tail Fibers
RIB – Small Copper Wire
THORAX - Olive Ice Dub
HACKLE - Hungarian Partridge


  1. Debarb hook – Put bead onto hook - Mount the hook in the vise and start the pink thread in at half shank and go back to just before the bend of the hook and tie in a sparse tail of pheasant tail fibers (3) about the length of the shank of the hook.
  2. Tie on a piece of copper wire right in close to the tail then tie in roughly 12 pheasant tail fibers in the same spot as the wire (smaller hook – smaller amount of fibers for the abdomen) by the tips.
  3. Wrap the pheasant tail forward to just about the center of the hook shank and tie it down – then spiral wrap the wire forward to make the ribbing and tie it off, clip off any tag ends.
  4. Spin a pinch of dubbing for the thorax and wrap onto the hook. (Just a small one – 2 or 3 very thin dubbing wraps)
  5. Using the pink thread still - wrap a slight slope of thread (Tapered down toward the eyelet) that you can slide the bead onto but leaving a small amount of pink thread showing ( Like a hot spot) – whip-finish and cut the thread.
  6. Push the bead back onto the pink thread and then start the brown thread in front of the bead – clip off the tag end of the thread.
  7. Strip the fibers from the left side of the partridge hackle (This will be up against the hook) and tie in by the tips (This is a very fragile feather so go slow at stripping the fibers and start at the butt section – removing only a couple of fibers at a time) in front of the beadhead.
  8. Wrap the feather forward while petting the fibers backward to create the sparse soft-hackle collar. Tie off and clip off the tag end of the feather. Now put a few wraps on to form a small tapered head – Whip-finish and clip the thread.