This fly was originated by Clarence Roberts, a former Michigan Conservation
Officer who lived in Grayling. It is considered by many who fish the
AuSable & Manistee River region to be a general purpose fly at the point in
the season when the light-colored-body flies begin to appear.
In smaller sizes [#16-18] Roberts Drake works well for sulphurs or
pale-evening duns and in larger sizes [#10-12] for the brown drakes. When
tied on size #6-8, 3xl hooks, it is considered the top all around fly during
the Hexagenia emergence; it is occasionally tied and fished on #4 or even #2
hooks during "blanket" 'Hex' hatches after dark.
I've even fished this effective parachute as small as size #22 with great
success on western spring creeks. It is my experience that it is indeed a
most effective pattern for nearly any light bodied mayfly in any region or
environment. ~ Steve Southard
Hook: Tied size #6-18, occasionally larger as noted above; smaller sizes on
standard hook, size #6-12 on 3xl hooks for brown drakes and Hex.
Thread: Yellow, size 3/0 down to # 12 hooks; size 6/0 or 8/0 #14 hooks and
Tail: Pheasant tail fibers [may substitute moose body hair].
Body: Light tan hair [preferably from young deer for the smaller sized
flies]; yellow thread is "crosshatched" when wrapping the body.
Wing: Upright tuft of white deer belly fur [preferably from young deer for
the smaller sized flies]; occasionally substituted with good quality
calftail for larger sizes and good quality calf body for smaller sizes.
Hackle: Medium ginger tied parachute; frequently substituted with "red" [brown].
Flies tied by Sam Surre [4-step flies] and Josh Nethers [full-bodied
1. Wrap the hook with thread and tie in pheasant tail fibers [or moose body
hair substitute]. Generally, several fibers are tied in; for larger flies,
4 or 5 tail fibers may be tied-in. After securing the tail fibers, wrap
the thread forward to near the eye of the hook.
2. Select light colored deer body hair, longer than the length of the hook
shank [though darker hair may be selected for darker bodied mayflies, like
the brown drake]. Do not stack the hair. Place the hair along the hook
with the tips of the hair extended about ½ the size of the gap beyond the
bend of the hook; trim to length [just behind the eye of the hook] and
secure the hair firmly at the 'head'.
3. Holding the hair firmly along hook, wrap the body from the front back to
the bend of the hook. While securing the deerhair at the bend of the hook,
give the thread a firm tug so as to make the deerhair that extends back
beyond the hook to flair slightly. Wrap the thread forward to the front of
the hook, cross-hatching the wraps already made, then half-hitch.
4. Measure and cut white deer-hair to approximately ¾ length of the shank
of the hook [may be slightly longer for after-dark fishing to increase
visibility]. Tie-in white hair for the parachute post [wing].
5. Hackle in the parachute style, using two ginger [or red-brown] hackles.
Tie in and wrap down the post, 3 or 4 wraps. Half-hitch to secure.
6. Wrap the head and conclude with a whip-finish knot.
7. NOTE Particularly for fishing at or after dark, when fishing for bigger
browns, many fly-fishers prefer a very full bodied Roberts Drake pattern,
with an ample amount of deerhair for the body. These fuller deer-hair
bodied are especially buoyant, an important factor when using x-heavy wire
For more information on Michigan flies we recommend that you also
check out the
Fly Factory website.