Stuck at home this holiday break with little to do? All you tiers can thank Jason Borger for a little holiday fly tying cheer. Today he brings us a couple of patterns for Christmas tying excerpted from the new book, Fishing the Film, by Gary A. Borger (illustrations by Jason Borger). Look for the book at your favorite shop or cataloger, or click here to order.

Low Rider Emerging Nymph
I measured literally hundreds of insects while doing the research for the Borger Color System (BCS), and in so doing, I realized that basically all insects are thinner than the flies tied to match them. Interestingly, this seems to have little effect of high floating flies, where emphasis of the body seems to enhance the fly’s effectiveness, probably because it’s a bit easier for the fish to see. Using a bulky body on a searching pattern has the obvious advantage of making it easier to see–and perhaps a bit more like a juicy terrestrial or just a juicy “something” that might be edible. Having a slightly bulky body works in deeply fished nymphs, too, probably because the extra size can suggest gills or a bit of motion. Bulkier flies might just be like oversized goose decoys, they’re really too big, but they’re easy to see and perhaps they just look better than the real thing…It was this need for the correct film profile that was the impetus behind Jason’s Low Rider Emerging Nymph, a fly that we both use heavily when fishing various mayfly hatches.

low ride

Tails: Soft body feather fibers or hackle fibers, mottled or solid color

Abdomen: A very fine dubbing like SuperDry or silk dubbing applied so that it’s barely larger than the diameter of the thread. This is a key to this pattern when imitating many mayflies or other narrow-bodied insects.
Thorax**: Same dubbing as Abdomen, also applied to the thread exceptionally thin. The thorax itself is usually twice the diameter of the abdomen.

Wing Case: Poly yarn, Z-lon, CealFiber, or other similar fibers, tied in as a parachute hackle post; folded tight over top of thorax after hackle is wound.

Hackle: Wound parachute style, two or three full turns only. After the hackle is secured, the fibers extending forward are stroked out to the sides, and the post pulled forward tight along the top of the abdomen and secured just behind the hook eye.

Head: Butt end of post trimmed to same length as hook eye–tying tip: pull the post fibers straight forward, put the edge of the scissor blade against the front of the eye, and snip.

This idea of paying extra close attention to the body diameter applies to spinners, too. They are “in the film” flies just as much as emergers. Fish see them in their entirety, and having the dimensions precise makes them more acceptable, not less so.

para floating

Parachute Floating Nymph
Tail: Hackle fibers, but not as heavy as for a dry fly.

Body: Fine dubbing, tied moderately thin

Wing Ball: This idea came from Rene Harrop. Fine dubbing is applied in several thin layers to build up a short, fat cigar shape on the thread. Hold the thread straight up over the top of the body and push the dubbing down into position on top of the thorax. Wrap the thread around the hook several turns in back of, and in front of, the dubbing ball; then wrap the thread around the base of the ball (above the hook shank) to make a place for winding the hackle.

Hackle: Standard length, tied in at thorax before wing ball is formed. Wind only two or three turns of hackle.

The first time I saw the concept of Rene’s dubbing ball, I knew it was the answer to my Parachute Ant. I had been tying it by putting a biot post at the center of the fly. In addition, I used dubbing wound onto the shank in a normal fashion–and it often closed the gap on the hook too much. But, now, I could solve both problems at the same time. The dubbing ball at the rear of the hook was above the shank, so no closure on the hook gap. The hackle is wound parachute style 2 or 3 turns around the base of the front dubbing ball–just like it is for the Parachute Floating Nymph.

orange spin

Orange Spinner
Then comes a very interesting observation made by my good fishing friends, John Goddard and Brian Clarke, and reported in their book, The Fly and the Fish. Brian had the idea that the dun wing would be reddish in the evening light (evening light being strongly red, as one can see in a sunset). Their underwater photographic experiments didn’t show much red, perhaps a tiny flush of pink, but they saw something else that amazed them. Spinners, lying spent on the surface actually glowed red.

The photo that they show in their book of spinners shot from underwater in evening light is a remarkable wake up call to every angler that fishes the film This has been a late evening “secret” of mine ever since the publication of that book. I use a bright orange imitation any time there are spinners falling to the surface, in late evening, and the results are outstanding. The Orange Spinner is easy to tie.

Tail: Hot orange hackle fibers

Abdomen: Hot orange thread

Thorax: Hot orange dubbing wrapped figure-8 style around the base of the wings
Wings:** Hot orange Twinkle Organza tied in on top of the hook shank
Tying Notes:** I realize that hot orange Twinkle Organza is not available everywhere. If you ever find it, buy a life-time supply. It’s generally available in fabric stores. One can usually find the pearlescent color of Twinkle Organza; buy this and color it with a hot orange permanent marker. A second choice is to dub on a hot orange thorax and wind a hot orange hackle over it, “X” style (see above), and then trim the hackle off top and bottom.