The brown bug

In the middle of May, a cornucopia of trout bugs create splendid dry-fly fishing.  It is my favorite time of year to fish the Au Sable.  Two caddis, the last hendrickson spinners, the first yellow stones, the first sulphurs, and the mahoganies.  But nothing quite compares to the ubiquitous brown bug: which is not one but several mayflies, and I’ll leave you to identify them at your own peril.  The primary bug is the Borcher’s Drake, but the others may or may not be male hendricksons, the first gray drakes (yes, we get a few), and the first March Browns.  And others?  Maybe.  All I know is this fly fished in sizes 12-16 to trout rising at dusk around May 18 will get the job done.

Hook: Daiichi 1180 sizes 12-16

Thread: Uni 6/0 Dark Brown

Tail: Dun Microfibbets

Underbody: Dark brown beaver dubbing

Overbody: Mahogany turkey biot

Post: Brown 2mm foam, cut into a thin strip

Hackle: Medium dun, or Grizzly dyed Medium Dun

Steps 1&2: Start the thread by wrapping it over the tag end and then working to the back of the hook.  Leave the tag end, tie in the tails, and then run the tag end between the tails to split them.  I like two tails on each side.

Img 9086

Img 9087

Steps 3, 4, 5:  Select a turkey biot and tie in the tip first.  I usually clip a bit of the fragile tip off before tying it in.  Now dub the thread with enough dubbing to cover the back half of the hook shank.  This will be the shape of the body.  Finally, wrap the biot over the dubbing.

Img 9088

Img 9089Img 9090

Steps 6 & 7: Tie in the foam strip and leave it long.  Now grab a hackle piece, strip the stem, and attach it to the hook.  These steps are identical to the normal process of tying a parachute fly.  After the foam and hackle are attached, dub the thread.  This will be the underbody under the “hackle stacker” wing.

Img 9091 Img 9092 Img 9093

Steps 8 & 9: Begin wrapping the hackle clockwise around the post.  Do not start at the top and work down.  Instead, begin wrapping the hackle around the base of the post and work up.  You want to use twice as much hackle as you would on an ordinary parachute.

Img 9098 e1544120044166

Once about half a hook-shank’s worth of post is covered in hackle, you’re going to fold the post down to the eye and tie off the post, trapping the hackle stem between the foam and the hook shank.  To make this process clearer here is a more colorful example of the hackle stacking process:

Img 9130

Img 9131 Img 9132 Img 9133

Now back to our fly.  The hackle stem should be secured at the head of the fly with a few wraps of thread, and then whip finished.  With your fingers, brush the hackle fibers up to the ceiling so the fly will land flat.  If the fibers are pointing down, clip them.  If this is a persistent problem, add more dubbing to the thorax, which will help those hackle fibers flair out accordingly.

Img 9099


Previous Fishing Reports

Don’t Let Them Run

Two New Events:  Okay, it took us awhile to figure out our summer calendar, but now we got something!  It’s not the Midnight Derby, it’s… 24 Hours, Aug 13-14: This scavenger

Read More »

Upcoming Events

24 Hours

Gates Lodge on YouTube

Want more fly tying videos? Click above to visit our YouTube channel.