Fly Of The Week
By Philip Rowley, Langley, BC, Canada

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Fly Tying Terms

Draggin (Dragon Fly Nymph)

I first saw the importance of dragon nymphs over 15 years ago. Fishing was incredibly slow. It was one of my first forays into lake fishing and if it wasn't for the dragon nymph, it might well have been my last. One of my fellow club members, Cliff Olson, had managed to dredge up a couple of fish on a dragon nymph. Spurred on by Cliff's success, we did as he had recommended and anchored ourselves along a steep drop-off. Casting out into deep water, we began crawling and darting our patterns up the steep shelf. My fishing partner at the time, Vic, was about half way through his retrieve when things just stopped. Vic wasn't quite sure of the sensation so he struck. It was a response the trout did not enjoy. Line tore through Vic's guides as the fish sounded. Eventually Vic gained the upper hand and when the fish came alongside the boat, we could not believe its size. This monster was over two feet long. From that moment on, the importance of a good dragon nymph pattern was forever etched in my mind.

When it comes to fly patterns I have one sure weakness - dragon nymphs. Since my first exposure to their importance I have played around with dragon nymph designs too numerous to mention. Guided by other patterns such as Ken's Dragon and Butler's Bug, I set abut designing my own darner imitation. It is a quest that has taken over 10 years. Sure I designed successful patterns but I was never really happy until I created the Draggin. One of my primary goals was a buoyant design. Despite the dragon nymph's ability to jet about, it prefers to crawl and stalk along the bottom. I needed a pattern that I could retrieve slowly with a limited amount of hang-ups. Recently foam has become increasingly popular. In North America foam is primarily used for dry flies and poppers, but I sought to use it as an underbody. Designs from the British Isles have also influenced my fly tying. One pattern in particular christened the Booby got me thinking about using foam eyes for my dragon nymphs. Using round foam bars such as Rainy's Float Foam, I fashioned foam eyes that had both function and imitation combined. To further my desire for floatation I added a thorax of spun and clipped deer hair.


Hook:  Tiemco 300, #4 -#8.

Thread:  Olive or green Monocord or 6/0 UNI-Thread.

Underbody:  Small black round foam bar, such as Rainy's Float Foam.

Body:  Crystal Chenille and Arizona Synthetic Peacock spun together in a dubbing loop.

Wingcase:  Natural Swiss straw or Raffia (dark brown).

Thorax:  Olive deer hair, spun and clipped.

Legs:  Olive silicone rubber legs.

Head:  Arizona Synthetic Peacock Dubbing.

Eyes:  Small black round foam bar, such as Rainy's Float Foam.

Tying Steps:

1. Cover the hook shank with tying thread. At the halfway point tie in a length of peacock Crystal Chenille.

2. Return the tying thread to the halfway point and tie in a length of round foam for the underbody. Secure the foam tightly at the front and rear. Don't wind the thread too tightly over the underbody as this will limit its floatation. Depending upon the size of the fly and the diameter of the foam bar it may be necessary to double the foam back over itself so the body will be proportional.

3. Form a dubbing loop at the rear of the hook. Insert a dubbing hook into the bottom of the loop. Make the dubbing loop shorter than the Crystal Chenille. This is important. Insert the dubbing mix into the bottom of the dubbing loop sliding it upward into position. This helps to keep the dubbing material from falling out when inserting additional amounts. Pull the Crystal Chenille parallel to the dubbing loop. Pull the tag end of the Crystal Chenille up under the dubbing hook and back across itself. Twist the dubbing hook a couple of times to lock the Crystal Chenille in place. Continue twisting the dubbing loop forming the dubbing noodle. Wind the dubbing noodle forward to the halfway point to create the body. Tie off and trim the excess dubbing loop.

4. Tie in the wingcase material.

5. Spin a pipe-cleaner sized diameter of dyed deer hair to form the first part of the thorax.

6. Tie in the silicone legs half way up the thorax. Spin a second clump of deer hair in front of the silicone legs. Be sure to pack the deer hair tightly as this improves floatation.

7. Carefully trim the thorax while the fly is still in the vise. The thorax should be flat on top and bottom and no wider than the body.

8. Pull over the wingcase but do not trim the excess. Fold the wingcase back across the body and tie in place. Figure-eight a small piece of round foam in place 2 eye widths back from the hook eye.

9. Form a small dubbing loop and insert dubbing. Spin the dubbing noodle tight and wind it around the eyes to form the head. Tie off the dubbing noodle at the hook eye.

10. Pull the wingcase across the top of the head dividing the eyes. Tie off but do not trim the excess. Move the tying thread to the rear of the head by traveling over the top of the head. Pull the wingcase material back over the head and tie off.

11. Whip-finish and trim the tying thread at the back of the head. Apply head cement. Trim the wingcase on an angle towards the rear of the fly. The wingcase should extend about 1/4 back into the body of the fly. Gather the legs and trim them so they are body length. Be careful not to pull on the legs prior to trimming or the end result will be short stubby legs. ~ Philip Rowley

Credits: From the terrific new book Fly Patterns for Stillwaters published by Frank Amato Publications. We greatly appreciate use permission.

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

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