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LaFontaine Emergent Sparkle Pupa
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LaFontaine Emergent Sparkle Pupa
By Gary LaFontaine

Publisher's Note: This fly is the one Gary considered to be his most original creation. We present it in honor of Gary, excerpted from Trout Flies, Proven Patterns.

What is my most original creation? On four points, the Emergent Sparkle Pupa. Some sharp historian might find precedents for three of the points, the the fourth one, the most important, can safely be called an innovation (for obvious reasons). The technique of dubbing the underbody, the Touch Method, creates a sparser, fuzzier covering than any other method of dubbing. The trick of a 'loose' overbody is unusual even now. The Emergent, half in and half out of the water, is the first caddis pupa designed to mimic the hesitation of the escaping natural at the surface film.

The underbody has to be "touch" dubbed. The dubbing mix of half sparkle yarn and half fur is hand-cut in 1/8-inch lengths, and then blended together in a mixer. The tier holds a puff of this specially prepared dubbing and pats the waxed thread lightly. He wraps the thread on the hook shank. No other method of dubbing, - not noodle dubbing and not loop dubbing - creates such a sparse, fuzzy body.

The overbody, plies of sparkle yarn pulled forward to envelope the underbody, has to be loose and sparse. A size 10 hook uses a full ply of yarn on top and a full ply of yarn on the bottom on the shank. On smaller sizes the tier pulls more and more fibers off of the plies. Each ply is combed completely out and spread over the top or bottom half of the hook shank. The tier loosens the overbody with a scissors point or a dubbing needle (the puffed out "ball" fills half of the hook gap). For the final test the tier holds the finished fly up to the light. He should be able to see the underbody through the overbody; he shouldn't be able to see any light or solid bands of yarn.

Materials: Emergent Sparkle Pupa

    Hook:  6-20 (standard dry fly, TMC 100).

    Thread:  To match underbody.

    Overbody:  Sparkle yarn.

    Underbody:   Half sparkle yarn and half fur (a finely chopped dubbing blend).

    Wing:  Deer hair.

    Head:  Dubbed fur or wrapped marabou fibers.

Tying Steps:

1. Separate two plies of the four ply yarn; comb out a short piece of each ply and tie one in on the top of the hook bend and one in on the bottom (use less than a ply on top and bottom for hooks smaller than size 12); let the plies dangle for the moment.

2. Use the Touch Method to dub the underbody.

3. Pull the top ply forward, spreading it around the top half of the shank, and pull the bottom ply forward, spreading it around the bottom half of the shank; lossen the tied-down fibers until the overbody is a filmy, baggy sheath and then trim the stubs.


4. Clip some of the yarn fibers directly on top of the shank (right in back of the tie-down spot) and let them trail off the back.

5. Tie in a deer hair wing, the tips extending to the bend of the hook.

6. Dub a head of fur or wrap a head of marabou fibers. Whip finish.

Fishing Tip:

The angler should carry the same basic selection for the Emergent as for the Deep Sparkle Pupa. Brown and Yellow (yellow underbody and overbody/brown speckled deer hair wing/brown head), Brown and Bright Green (bright green underbody overbody/brown speckle deer hair wing/brown head, Ginger (ginger underbody and overbody/light tan deer or elk hair wing/ginger head), Dark Gray (dark gray underbody and overbody/gray speckle deer hair/gray head) are the most important color schemes. The Brown and Orange (orange underbody and overbody/brown speckled deer hair wing/brown speckled deer hair wing/brown head) version, in a size 8, is a great fly in the West in the fall when the Giant Orange Sedge appears on our rivers.

My way of fishing the Emergent is simpler, and in my opinion, during a caddis hatch, it is more effective. The pattern is greased entirely and floated dead drift (from up, down, or across stream) over rising trout. The pattern rides half in and half out of the surface film, the deer hair wing quite visible above the water. Fished like this, the Emergent is a hackleless dry fly.

All of the other methods, by sinking or moving the fly, knock the natural air bubbles off of the Antron. Those bubbles, continually grabbing onto the body or breaking free from it, give the illusion of a squirming, living insect even when the fly is drifted drag-free with the current. From the underwater view it mimics not only the appearance but the movement of the caddisfly pupa.

There is a well-known phrase in fly fishing: Presentation is 90 percent of the secret of success. But there is one case where the fly overwhelms presentation, and that is during the caddis hatch. The Emergent Sparkle Pupa, with its shimmering body of Antron dibers, catches more trout fish wrong than a dry fly or a drab pupal imitation fished right. The versatility of this pattern explains its popularity. ~ Gary LaFontaine

Note: For another method of tying this fly, see Emergent Sparkle Pupa as tied by Skip Morris.


For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.


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