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Stillwater Nymph
By Philip Rowley

Denny Rickards is an outstanding still-water angler. Based in Fort Klamath Falls, Oregon, Denny is owner/operator of Crystal Creek Guiding Service. He splits his time between guiding and providing seminars and demonstrations throughout the Western United States and Canada. Denny is a popular speaker and fly tier at the International Sportsman's Expositions held throughout the western states. During his 30 years fly fishing for stillwater trout, Denny has compiled a wealth of knowledge. Denny has just completed his first book, Fly Fishing Stillwaters For Trophy Trout, and two videos, one sharing the title of his book, the other, .

Denny is not a proponent of direct imitation but prefers to use his suggestive patterns coupled with a variety of different retrieves and depths to imitate the varied menu of stillwater trout. Denny uses only five fly patterns for his entire stillwater fly fishing. The Stillwater Nymph is one of these five and one of his favorites. Denny developed the Stillwater Nymph over ten years ago while fishing Diamond Lake in southeastern Oregon. Well aware that damsel fly nymphs and scuds are important items on the trout's menu, Denny set about developing a fly to simulate both food sources at once.

Denny began by tying in a sparse tail of olive marabou. Marabou provided the life and movement that are critical components to many successful stillwater patterns. Once tied in, Denny folds the marabou butts back over the tail (the marabou butts form the shellback later on). Next he ties in a grizzly hackle dyed orange to suggest the brood pouch of a scud. Denny has these grizzly hackles dyed for him by Jay Fair from Eagle Eake, California. Jay offers a full line of quality dyed grizzly hackles, both in full capes and individually-sized packages. Denny stresses the importance of tying the hackle feather in by the tip so the pattern does not spin during the retrieve. Wind the hackle a maximum of four turns to suggest segmentation. Tie in a rib of fine copper wire to provide added durability, segmentation and sparkle. Dubbed seal's fur forms the body. However, seal's fur is not always readily available. As an alternative J. Fair offers a product called "Dub-It" that is a great substitute. Dub-It is an African goat mix available in a spectrum of colors that blend well. With the body complete, bring the marabou butts over the top of the body to form the shellback. Trimming the hackle along the top and sides of the pattern provides the finishing touch.

Denny uses intermediate lines for 90 percent of his stillwater fly fishing. His favorite retrieves include the handtwist, a slow 2- to 4-inch pull or a short and rapid 1- to 2-inch strip. Expect aggressive takes with the short rapid retrieve. Denny feels the speed of the pattern is important to the success of any presentation. The stillwater nymph has proven to be a great summer pattern in many waters throughout the western United States and Canada. Use it throughout the entire fishing season.

Materials: Stillwater Nymph

    Hook: Mustad Signature R72.

    Thread: Olive 6/0 or 8/0.

    Tail: Marabou.

    Shellback: Marabou butts from tail material.

    Rib: Fine copper wire.

    Hackle: Grizzly hackle dyed orange.

    Body: Seal's fur or substitute.

Tying Instructions: Stillwater Nymph

    1. Place a debarbed hook into the vise and weight if desired. Secure weight in place with tying thread. Strip a sparse clump of marabou fibers from the stem. Tie in at the rear of the hook so the marabou is shank length. Once marabou is secure double the remaining butt material back over the tail and secure in place with the tying thread. These butts will form the shellback later.

    2. Tie in a dyed orange grizzly hackle by the tip followed by a length of fine copper wire.

    3. Dub a neat body.

    4. Wind the copper rib forward, tie off and break excess.

    5. Palmer the hackle forward over the body a max of four times. The hackle simulates the brood pouch of the nant shrimp and provides segmentation. Tie off and trir excess saddle feather.

    6. Pull the marabou butts over the top of the fly to the shellback. Tie off and remove the excess material.

    7. Build a neat head and whip-finish. Apply head cement. Trim the saddle fibers along each side of the fly so that only lower portions of the hackle remain. ~ PR

Credits: Excerpt from Fly Patterns for Stillwaters By Philip Rowley, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.


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


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