RS2
By Charlie Craven


Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

The RS2 is one of my favorite flies. If you have ever had the pleasure of watching Rim Chung and his unconventional nymphing technique work through a run, this fly might become one of your favorites as well. This guy catches fish like nobody's business. Rim uses an old Sage LL rod in the 389 configuration (8-foot, 9-inch, 3-weight), a thin-diameter level line, and a long leader. He weights the leader with split shot or putty and uses no indicator. I could say that Chung's deadly technique is reminiscent of the now-popular Czech nymphing style, but I believe I would have to say it the other way around, since Chung has been at this game long before I ever heard of Czech nymphing. Chung is a gracious and gentlemanly angler and is a pleasure to share the water with.

When I guided on the South Platte River it seemed that at least one of my clients always had an RS2 on, and I would bet that half the fish my clients caught were victims of this fly. Confidence in a pattern can make all the difference, and I have a lot of confidence in the RS2. The pattern that we will tie here is not Rim's original, but a variation that I developed over the years using alternative synthetic materials. Synthetics are, in my opinion, more durable, cheaper and easier to get, and more consistent than their natural counterparts.

I've incorporated a few special techniques into my RS2 variation after years of tying these flies. The first is to split the tail with the tag end of the thread. I first saw this method used by Scott Sanchez in Tying Flies with Jack Dennis and Friends. It is so simple and obvious (once you see it) that it will leave you slapping your forehead and wondering why you didn't think of it first.

The second trick, which is especially useful on flies smaller than #18, is to cut the Super Fine dubbing clump in half across the center of the bunch. Super Fine's long fibers make it hard to control the taper and density of the body. Cutting the dubbing lets you add it in smaller increments, allowing more control over its application.

The third trick is burning or melting the Antron wing clump. If you tie your RS2s with Antron wings, you quickly find out that you can only tie a few flies from a length of Antron before it starts to fall apart and become unusable. This trick prevents this and makes for more efficient use of both your time and materials. Clip a length of Antron from the package, so it is as wide as the card it came on, which is about 3 inches. Hold one end of the Antron up to a flame and melt the ends a bit. Take the flame away and quickly pinch the hot end (be careful) to fuse the end together. Now you have a "wing blank" that will tie a dozen flies without falling apart. You tie the loose ends of the Antron to the hook, so the melted end will always be toward the rear of the hook and stay intact for the next fly.

When you buy a pack of these fibers [Microfibbets], they are typically taped to a paper card and slightly stuck together at their base. The fibers separate and become hard to handle and the tips are never even.

To alleviate the trouble with unruly synthetic tailing fibers, take a brand new pack of tailing fibers and remove the tape and the paper card, then cut the gooey bases off. Put the entire clump in your hair stacker and tap them a few times to even them. Remove the fibers from the stacker and bind the ends with heavy thread (use brightly colored thread so you can find the clump more easily), just like you would on a fly. Tie a whip-finish around the bases and clip the thread. Melt the butt ends of the clump with a flame and press the hot end against your workbench to form a small nub. Now you have clean, nicely stacked tailing fibers that won't separate for years to come.

The RS2 is the first fly in this book that uses the front-to-back dubbing technique. After tying in the wing, the wing butts will create bulk on the hook that forms a slope toward the hook eye. If you were to try to dub from the base of the wing forward to the hook eye, the dubbing would slide down the hill and pile up at the hook eye. To counteract this, dub from the rear edge of the index point up to the base of the wing and then back to the index. This allows you to climb the dubbing up that slope using each wrap to support the next, instead of collapsing on top of one another. This also assures the abdomen and thorax tapers flow together.

The RS2 is a great mayfly emerger pattern that can be fished from the stream bottom to the surface. I most often dead-drift it on the bottom as a nymph, but it can be effective on the swing also. I typically rig a #20 RS2 in a two-fly rig with a Pheasant Tail or Barr Emerger on the front end with the RS2 on a 12- to 15-inch dropper off the bend of the first fly. I have also fished the RS2 as an emerger pattern in the surface film. I have taken to fishing it behind a Parachute Adams or other visible dry so I can spend less time searching for the fly and more time catching fish. While the standard RS2 color is gray, this fly is also a killer in black, brown, and olive.

RS2 materials

    Hook: #16-24 Tiemco 101.

    Thread: Gray 8/0 Urn-Thread.

    Tail: White Mayfly Tails, Microfibbets, or other synthetic tailing fibers

    Abdomen:Gray Super Fine.

    Wing: Bright white Antron

    Thorax: Gray Super Fine.

Method for the RS2

    1 . Attach the thread at the 75 percent point on the hook, leaving a long tag end.

    2. Wrap back over the tag end toward the hook bend, taking care to keep the tag end along the top of the hook by lifting it slightly toward you.

    3. Thread torque should pull the tag to the top of the shank.

    4. Select two fibers from the bundle of tailing material and even the tips. Measure these against the hook shank so that they are a full hook-length long and grasp them at this point with your material hand. The tapered ends should be in your fingertips with the butt ends sticking out toward the hook eye.

    5. Place the tailing fibers along the top of the shank at the bend at an angle that points the butt ends at your thread-hand-side shoulder.

    6. Wrap the thread up and over the tail fibers, allowing the thread torque to twist the tail fibers to the top of the hook shank. Make another two turns of thread over the butt ends of the tail up to the hook point.

    7. Press your thumbnail up under the tails to lift and splay them out.

    8. The tails should be separated and on top of the hook. Make sure the tails are not crossed up or tied down on one side of the hook shank. If the tails are off to one side, splitting them will become much more difficult.

    9. Lift the tag end of the thread that was hanging off the hook bend up between the tails.

    10. Draw the tag end tight, allowing it to push the tails apart. You may need to maneuver the tag to the left or right side of the hook to manipulate the tail fibers so they are split evenly. Tie the tag end down at the hook point with a turn or two of thread. All the thread turns are traveling forward one in front of the other to eliminate bulk at the rear of the fly.

    11 . The tails should be split at about a 30-degree angle to each other and be slightly elevated.

    12. Continue wrapping the working thread forward to the 75 percent point, one turn in front of the other.

    13. Clip the tag end of the thread and the tail butt ends.

    14. Dub the thread with a thin, slightly tapered strand of gray dubbing. There should be one half to 1 inch of bare thread between the top of the dubbing strand and the hook shank.

    15. Use this bare thread to work back over the shank to the hook bend. Notice the widely spaced spiraling wraps of thread from the front to the back of the hook.

    16. Place the first, slender turn of dubbing under the tails by wrapping around the shank just as you normally would…

    17. but wrap the dubbing under and behind the tails.

    18. Draw the dubbed thread forward as you come around the backside of the hook shank, pulling the first turn of dubbing up against the base of the tails. This turn should prop the tails up and cover the tag end of the thread that you used to split the tails. Once the dubbing is tight against the tails, drop the bobbin to bring the thread under the hook shank in front of the base of the tails.

    19. Make the next turn straight up over the top of the shank at the front edge of the tails. A thin strand of dubbing is required for the slightly tapered body.

    20. Wrap the dubbing forward in a single layer to the 75 percent point on the shank. The trick to making a slightly tapered body such as this with a single, thin layer of dubbing lies in the angle of the first few turns. I wrap the first three turns of dubbing at a dramatic angle toward the front of the shank, almost spiraling the thread forward. About halfway up the body, I start to make the wraps more perpendicular to the shank, allowing the dubbing to bulk up.

    21 . Wrap the remaining dubbing back over the front half of the abdomen, creating a second thin layer of dubbing.

    22. Move the last of the dubbing forward from the midpoint of the abdomen to the 75 percent point by making two spiraling turns forward. Strive for an even taper with no lumps, bumps, or gaps. End with the bare thread at the front edge of the abdomen on bare shank.

    23. Wrap a smooth, flat thread base up to the hook eye.

    24. Wrap back to the front edge of the abdomen to cover the shank with a thread base for the wing to adhere to.

    25. Pick up the Antron wing blank you prepared at the beginning and clip the loose ends square. Hold the loose ends of the Antron between your thumb and forefinger of your material hand as close to the tips as you can. Place the yarn flush against the top of the hook shank with the stub ends facing forward. You do not want any space between the Antron and the hook shank. They should be touching, and the thread should be hanging directly at the front edge of the dubbed abdomen. I always use an entire strand of Antron yarn for the wing, rather than thinning it down for smaller flies. Fewer fibers don't form the same wing profile, and besides, the Antron compresses well on the hook and creates little bulk.

    26. Bring the working thread up above the hook and push the bobbin tube toward the hook bend, sliding a length of thread in between your fingertips on the near side of the Antron. Drop the bobbin over the far side of the hook, but keep tension on the thread loop in your fingertips so it doesn't draw tight just yet. You should have a loop of thread up and over the material inside your fingertips. This is the beginning of a pinch wrap and allows you to tie the Antron down onto the top of the shank without the thread twisting it to the far side.

    27. Draw the bobbin straight down, closing the loop within your fingertips so it catches the Antron against the top of the hook shank. Do this whole maneuver one more time before letting go of the yarn. It takes two turns like this to make a complete thread revolution around the hook to lock things down.

    28. The loose ends of the Antron should be well behind the hook eye. If they are not, pull the butt ends to shorten the ends so they are.

    29. Wrap forward over the ends of the Antron up to the hook eye. Let the thread hang in the index point.

    30. Twist a bit more dubbing onto the thread.

    31 . Begin wrapping the dubbing from the back edge of the index point up to the base of the wing. Wrapping the dubbing up the slope from the front to the back of the hook prevents the dubbing from sliding down the hill you created with the butt ends of the wing.

    32. Wrap the remaining dubbing forward to the back edge of the index point, ending with bare thread behind the hook eye, so that you have a descending taper with the thickest point at the base of the wing. Overall, the whole fly should look like an elongated teardrop when viewed from the bottom, with no seam or gap at the wing.

    33. Whip-finish and clip the thread.

    34. The wing is now ready for trimming.

    35. Pull the wing straight forward over the hook eye.

    36. Clip it straight across at the back edge of the hook eye.

    37. Another view of the finished fly.

    Pattern Variations


    BLACK RS2


    BROWN RS2


    MERCURY RS2


    OLIVE RS2


    SPARKLE WING RS2

    Credits: From Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying By Charlie Craven. Published by Headwater Books.

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


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