The Stimulator

By Nick Simonson

For a fun, and somewhat ornate fly that’s still easy to tie and exciting to fish, it’s tough to beat the Stimulator.  Designed to float high and dry in the fastest of Montana’s streams, this pattern was originally fashioned to simulate an adult stonefly, but in yellows and greens it can do double duty as a hopper or hexagenia pattern when those big bite hatches happen on your favorite bass and panfish waters. With its elk hair tail and wing, and abundant dry hackle, it’s tough to sink a Stimulator, making it a great attractor lead for a dropper presentation.  Tie a bunch up in various colors and be ready when the moment calls for this great fly.


Utilize a hair stacker to align the ends of elk hair needed to give the Stimulator its buoyancy. Simonson Photo

Hook: Tiemco 200R, Size 8-12
Thread: 6/0 Yellow
Tail: Stacked Elk Hair
Abdomen: Yellow Dubbing
Abdomen Hackle: Brown
Wing: Stacked Elk Hair
Thorax: Gold Dubbing
Thorax Hackle: Grizzly



Start the thread on the hook and trim the tag end off, wrapping it to the bend of the hook shank.  Clip a selection of elk hair and brush out the ends, removing the fuzz and short strands.  Place the hairs in a hair stacker and tap it a few times to line up the tips.  Remove the hair from the stacker and tie in at the bend, by wrapping the thread around the hair once and then securing it to the hook with multiple thread wraps up and down the hook shank (1).  Going back to the hair tie-in point, secure a brown dry fly hackle feather and create a dubbing yarn on the thread with some yellow dubbing (2).  Form the underbody of the fly’s abdomen by advancing the dubbing yarn forward over the elk hair butts (3).  Then, use a hackle pliers to evenly distribute the hackling over the dubbing, finishing off the abdomen (4).

Break out your hair stacker once again, and select another clipping of elk hair.  Repeat the process of cleaning, stacking and evening out the tips, before tying them down in the same manner as the tail so the wing lines up in a slight arc with that portion of the fly; trim the hair butts and secure them with a few more thread wraps, forming the area where the underbody of the thorax will be (5).  Move the thread back to the tie-in point of the wing and tie in a grizzly hackle and form a dubbing yarn with the gold dubbing (6).  Wrap the dubbing yarn forward, forming the thorax (7). Follow that with the grizzly hackle in your hackle pliers, forming a dense, hackled front (8).  Secure the hackle with a few thread wraps, before whip finishing, adding a drop of head cement and completing the fly (9).

The Stimulator teaches hair management and keeping the elk hair from flaring too much is key in making a good offering, but even those ‘B’ flies will catch fish, so make sure to save them.  You can also experiment with wing and tail length as you see fit or the fish tell you from season to season on your waters.  Switch dubbing and hackle colors as well, to better match the forage in your area, and to better stimulate a bite next season.

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