By Nick Simonson
With early snowfall, it’s always a harsh reminder that it may be a long time before we re-emerge and get back to open water fishing in the spring. But when we do, so will the insects, and it’s those emerging bugs – the ones that are headed up to the surface to become a snack for hungry trout and panfish – that help provide inspiration for a tough-to-resist fly offering. To convey those easy-to-eat targets stuck between the water and the air, we have emerger patterns, with a wisp of flash to simulate growing wings or a shucking underwater case that triggers a feeding response unlike any other.
The beadhead emerger nymph has all the hallmarks of a great nymph pattern, with a flashy flag of a shuck to call fish in. While tied here on a pheasant tail recipe, the principle can be used on any favorite nymph pattern with the addition of a little white wing and some flash. When fish see that wingcase pop and shimmer, they know a bug is headed for the surface and will be stuck there for awhile as it attempts to get airborne. It’s then, at the insect’s most vulnerable state, that fish will attack. Tie up the beadhead PT emerger to add this tell-tale sign of an easy meal for any fish in your waters.
Hook: Curved Nymph 12-16
Thread: Brown 6/0
Tail: Tips of 6 PT Fibers
Abdomen: Wrapped PT Fibers
Underwing: Antron Yarn
Overwing: 2 Strands Flash
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Head: Gold Bead
Start the fly by slipping a gold bead onto a curved nymph hook, and setting it in the vise, starting the thread near the bead (1). Wrap the thread down to the bend of the hook and tie in six pheasant tail fibers as the tail, pointing down (2).
Advance the thread to a bead length behind the bead and wrap the PT fibers to that point, and tie them down to just behind the bead (3). Tie in the underwing of antron yarn, so it fans out about halfway down the PT fiber body (4). On top of the antron yarn, tie in two strands of krystal flash for an overwing that is just slightly longer than the yarn underwing (5).
Create the thorax by tying in a strand of peacock herl and wrapping it over the wings; tie it off and trim it right behind the bead head (6). Finally, fold the legs back, trim them along the back of the herl, whip finish and cement – the emerger is done (7)!
This pattern ties up quickly, so no matter how long the snowy season lasts, it’s easy to tie up a few dozen in those favorite nymph styles to have a variant ready when aquatic insects are on the rise. When emergers are headed toward the surface and start up a feeding frenzy, these flies will match the hatch and catch those hungry fish!