Foam Yellow Sally

By Nick Simonson

The Yellow Sally is an out-and-out stonefly pattern, designed for those clean trout streams where these insects are common in the warm weather months and the lighter colored versions of the bugs are frequently found.  As there aren’t a whole lot of those locales in the upper Midwest, I’ve found this traditional trout fly works wonders on farm ponds for monster bluegills and is impossible to drown, cast-after-cast.  So, whether you’re headed west for some “River-Runs-Through-It” type action during a stonefly hatch or looking for a pattern to fool some panfish close to home, the Yellow Sally – especially this nigh-unsinkable foam version – is one to have.


The Foam Yellow Sally tied by Nick Simonson.

Hook: Dry, Size 12 to 16
Butt: 6/0 Red Thread
Thread: 6/0 Yellow
Body: Yellow Dry Fly Dubbing
Underwing: Yellow Closed Cell Foam
Overwing: Elk Hair
Head: Yellow Dubbing
Hackle: Cream Dry



Start the fly by forming a small thread butt in red, this resembles the pinkish-to-crimson tip of the abdomen on the naturally-occurring yellow stoneflies. Tie it in and whip finish to hold it in place (1).  From there, re-start a yellow thread on the hook shank and cover it from just behind the eye and back onto the red thread butt.  At that point, create a small dubbing yarn to form the body (2).  Wrap the dubbing forward about two-thirds of the way up the hook (3).

Create an underwing with a section of yellow closed cell foam in a small square strip about one inch long.  Trim the point to be tied in down to an angle, making it easier to attach and secure it on the top of the hook shank with multiple thread wraps (4). Over the foam wing, tie in an overwing of elk hair by stacking it in a hair stacker and placing it on the top of the hook shank as well (5).

Once the wings are secured with some thread wraps, tie in a cream-colored dry fly hackle and create another yellow dubbing yarn for the head (6).  Dub the head in and advance the thread to just behind the hook eye (7). Wrap the hackle forward over the dubbing head and secure it behind the hook eye. Whip finish and trim off any rogue hackle fibers and the fly is complete (8).

The Foam Yellow Sally is fun to tie and tests material management skills to prepare a person for more challenging patterns but is still easy enough for beginning tiers to crank out a bunch of great looking flies that catch fish in all places from pristine mountain streams right down to prairie ponds. With the foam, hair, hackle and dry dubbing it’s also a surface fly that’s fun to fish and rarely gets waterlogged making each take more exciting.

Featured Photo: A couple of Sallies.  The Foam Yellow Sally is a great semi-advanced fly that’s tough to drown and catches trout on a stonefly binge or panfish just about anytime! Simonson Photo. 

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