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I believe fish are cynics. They love to eat insects which are trapped in a dismal state – the state of emergence. Tough moment for the little bug. He (or she) spend years (up to three they say) on the bottom of rivers and lakes when than all of a sudden nature calls and they are drawn up to the surface.
There they hang of the water film and have to perform quite a stunt. Crawling out of their outer skeleton to unfold as winged insect above the water. Crazy stuff. Konstanse and I can sit hours in our bellyboats watching this closely when the big Ephemera Vulgata put up their show. Fascinating.

Fish give a rats ass about such nuveaunatureandIamsofuckingconcious feelings. They see a good bit of nutrition lying on the plate. Bingo – so they rise up to the occasion and devour the struggling creature.

Following article is about the basic design principles I try to follow when tying such a fly.


Basic description: Insects in their emerging state.

Design criteria based on functionality

  1. imitate an emerging insect stuck in the water surface film
  2. make sure it does not drown competely
  3. it would be nice if the angler could see the fly
  4. there is no 4 – 4 is the new 5 (edited by Paul)
  5. make sure it lands correctly

So based on these parameters (apart from 1. – which is an interpretation) we can check the flies we tie. To me it does not matter so much which techniques are applied – the parameters 2. to 5. must be achieved.

2. and 3. (and even maybe number 1.)
Checking wether the stuff we tied works is easy. You need a glass with water by the tying desk. Put the fly in and see what happens. Do you see the fly from above? What does it look like from under (hence the glass). Does it drown?

number 5. – stand up from you tying desk and throw the fly in the air (make sure the cat isn´t around). Observe what happens. How does the fly land in your hand or on the floor. Does it rotate in the air (bad) and so on. Speed of decent and the “force” with which it hits your hand gives you an indication on the floatability. A heavy fly, or which becomes heavy by absorbing water would sink when cast on the water. Such flaw does not show so easy in the simple “water glass test”.

Here are some quick shots I did:


from left to right
Blue Bottle on CZ#18, Klinkhamer K4A/S #12, Carpet Yarn Caddis K4A/S #14, Hares Hair Emerger CZ #12

a closer look at the Blue Bottle (basically a black hares hair emerger)



and the beloved Hares Hair Emerger

You will notice that all flies show a mirror image in the water surface – and that to me is they key trigger making emerger patterns so successful. So choose a design that helps this impression.