Here’s another nugget from our respected “Fly Guy,” Brian Schmidt of Umpqua Feather Merchants. If there’s a more versatile, consistent producer than the Barr Emerger, I don’t know about it. - Deeter


When the days get longer, I reach for my trusty baetis box and count my Barr Emerger BWOs. This simple pattern, designed to imitate the transformation of an mayfly breaking from the nymphal shuck, uses materials that can be found at any fly shop or right on your own tying desk.

The Barr Emerger was introduced to shops by Umpqua Feather Merchants in 1991, and continues to prove itself as the “go-to” pattern for matching the baetis hatches on drainages coast to coast. John Barr invented his pattern in 1975 and over the years developed a family of flashback and beadhead variations for BWO’s and PMD’s. If you have ever spent hours of frustration casting dun after dun to rising trout with little to no success, you felt the same thing John did some 30 years ago. Sometimes trout just get wise to floating mayflies and key in on the helpless emerger stuck in its nymphal shuck just below the surface. The color of the fly can be changed to match nearly any mayfly found on your local water; try using bright yellow or sulpher orange in the thorax to match the sulpher hatches of the East. Throw a bead on the head and fish it on the bottom as a nymph, or tie it on a dry fly hook such as the TMC 101 to imitate a Stillborn or Cripple floating through the film. The Dry Dropper method is a lifesaver if you have difficulty seeing a feeding trout. Try tying one a foot or so off the bend of a dun and use the dun as your indicator; you’ll be amazed at the percentage of strikes you would never have felt or seen. I know for certain, if you have not tried this proven pattern before, you will be telling stories of the fish that didn’t get away sooner than you think.

Here are the recommended materials for tying the Barr Emerger BWO …

Hook: TMC 2487 or 2488 (H) #16-24 (use a TMC 101 for the dry version)
Thread: 8/0 Iron Dun
Tail: Brown Spade Hackle Fibers
Abdomen: Olive Brown Superfine Dubbing
Wing case: Dark Dun Spade Hackle Fibers
Thorax: Grey Muskrat or Beaver Dubbing
Legs: Dark Dun Spade Hackle Fibers

By Brian Schmidt