I’m back at the vise this week working to fill orders that have been stacking up during our fly fishing road trip. I started on an order of 324 flies that included several small BWO/Baetis fly imitations in sizes 16, 18, and 20.
The fly order includes several of my favorite BWO imitations. I have more confidence fishing an emerger or cripple fly pattern than a standard dun, like a parachute pattern.
Besides the Last Chance Cripple Baetis shown above, here are a couple other size 20 flies I’ve tied:
While I had the materials at hand, I also tied a dozen size 20 Improved Sparkle Dun BWO flies for my provider box. But I’m running out of deer hair for these small flies!
I’m having difficulties finding good Sparkle Dun deer hair, marketed as Comparadun deer hair.
My source for years has been Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, MT. After all, that fly shop introduced me to the fly pattern many years ago. I enjoyed culling through their bins during trips to Yellowstone Country and select pieces best used for my fly tying. Now I realize how lucky I was.
I’ve stopped there several times in the last two years and their bins are empty and when I asked about it, I wasn’t encouraged they would be refilling their bins any time soon.
In my Selecting the Proper Deer Hair post about deer hair, I cite Nature’s Spirit brand as a great source of Comparadun deer hair. However, after stopping at several fly shops on our fly fishing road trip, I looked at numerous Ziploc packages. Many of they have deer hair with underfur, something I try to avoid. Underfur is the result of a late season kill because deer are growing the hair to help keep them warm during winter months.
In addition, I couldn’t find pieces with the shortest tips I can use to tie size 18 – 20 flies. Many pieces might work for size 16, but I doubt I can tie sizes 18 and 20 with them. I’ll keep looking.
In the meantime, I may have to substitute materials for the wing. I know a tier who uses EP Fibers. I’ve tied them with CDC as well, and I know they work.
Here is Sparkle Dun PMD tied with a CDC wing.
Much like deer hair, there are good and bad CDC feathers. I use Trouthunter brand these days and find it the best for my uses.
Lastly, here is a BWO Mayfly Cripple, again in size 20.
I’ve tied a dozen each in size 16, 18, and 20 for the three fly patterns shown above.
I would fish any and all of those fly patterns to imitate BWOs. These small mayflies, some down to size 22, are on my local river now and will continue to hatch even when the larger insects start fading in early November. I’ll fish them this winter.
Besides the three imitations above, I would be remiss not to share my own RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripple. It’s a dry fly I have confidence fishing too.
Well, time to return to the vice. I have a lot of flies to tie!
Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!
I’ll keep an eye out for early season whitetail neck and shoulder hair from one of my fishing/hunting buddies. Every so often I turn up a nice hide, and with those small flies, a little goes a long way. I’ll remember you if I score any. – Chuck Stranahan