This fly has an interesting backstory. Every once in a while you develop a pattern, fish it for years, then see something similar designed by another tier. Sometimes, as is the case here, the other individual’s concept of the fly is better than your own. In this case, three fly tier’s separated by a thousand miles or more developed two very similar patterns (for a different purpose), but the other guy(s) did a better job.
A while back I developed a warm water nymph pattern that was an impressionistic version of a dragon or damselfly nymph. Now, many would say that these two insects look nothing alike, and you would be correct. A damselfly nymph is a thin, trim bug that swims rapidly through the water when moving from point A to B. A dragonfly nymph, on the other hand, is a much larger, bulkier insect that lumbers along unless disturbed. My fly which I dubbed an Estaz Dragon split the difference between the two, not quite as thin as a damselfly nymph but not as bulky as a dragonfly nymph. The idea being I could cover both bases with one fly. It worked, in fact, it worked well enough to become a staple in my warm water fly boxes.
The Estaz Dragon is straightforward to tie. It has bead chain eyes, an ostrich herl tail, a body made of dubbing and estaz, a shellback of chenille and some fine wire to hold it all together. It was quick and easy to tie and very effective.
Earlier this year, I was chatting with a Facebook friend by the name of David Hutton. David runs a Facebook Group called Palmetto Fly ’n Fish. A discussion came up on his group about the use of emu feathers, and David mentioned a fly pattern called the SB Nymph. Intrigued, I checked it out the link to the pattern and immediately recognized what I saw. The SB Nymph was a much-improved version of my Estaz Dragon. The SB Nymph was a similar concept that used a palmered emu feather instead of the synthetic estaz material that I was using. In the end, they had created a much more natural looking fly. Although I don’t shun the use of synthetic materials in any way, I prefer to use natural materials whenever I can.
The SB Nymph and was the combined effort of two fly tiers from the Central Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Chapter (Bob Haase and Spencer Gore). They developed the pattern for trout in moving, cold water while my estaz version was designed for panfish in warm water ponds and lakes. I have no doubt the SP Nymph would be effective on trout, and I have proven its effectiveness on panfish and bass. Here is a link to the SB Nymph on CWTU’s website here you will also find an excellent step by step tutorial if you want to tie the pattern yourself.
I incorporated the emu feather into my fly pattern and immediately liked the results. After a season of fishing the pattern, I can say it is just as effective, maybe slightly more so than my original concept. Though there are times that fish prefer the flash of the estaz in my original pattern, and there are times when the fish prefer a more natural looking offering, and this fly fits the bill perfectly.
I like to fish this fly over grass beds and along clean bottoms adjacent to weed beds. To mimic damselfly nymphs, I’ll retrieve the fly with short strips and to imitate a dragonfly nymph just use a slow, steady hand twist retrieve. Make your cast and let it sink just above the weed bed or bottom and begin your retrieve. I let the fish tell me what they want and take it from there. Give both the synthetic and the natural versions a try and let me know what you think.
If I ever bump into Spencer or Bob down the road at some TU function, I’ll be sure to thank them for their work in creating a fantastic panfish pattern, despite the fact they are catching trout on it!
- Hook: TMC 2302 size 8-12
- Underbody: 25 wraps of .010 lead wire
- Eyes: Small bead chain
- Tail: Olive Ostrich Herl about a hook shank in length (marabou will also work)
- Ribbing: Fine copper wire
- Body: Olive SLF Squirrel Dubbing
- Hackle: Emu hackle
- Shellback: Dark olive chenille