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Black Dog Nymph
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The Black Dog Nymph
Pattern, Flies and Photos by Peter Frailey

I originally designed the Blackdog Nymph (BDN) to match the small, thin early dark stoneflies that are active in New England during the early spring. But the BDN is much more than that.

The virtual community encouraged by Web sites like FAOL has provided many of us with new friends with whom to share ideas, swap flies, and exchange materials. In this spirit, Warren "Blackdog" Frank of Minnesota had sent me several turkey tail feathers with the suggestion that I try the fibers as substitutes for pheasant tail fibers. The dark gray color was perfect for the body of the early dark stoneflies that inhabit one of my favorite early season stretches of water. For the thorax, I found a very appropriate match in the fur dubbing sent to me by another Internet fishing buddy, Ed Laine of North Carolina. This wispy gray-black dubbing was brushed from Hassle, a big black Belgian Sheep Dog. To complete the formula I added a wire rib and a tail and hackle collar from a dark hen neck feather.

But it's always hard for me to stick to a formula. With the BDN, I found that as I experimented with different materials I began to think of it as a style of tying rather than a specific fly or prescribed color. It is easily adapted to create any size or color of nymph, robust or thin, large or small, dark or light. Weight the nymph with an underbody of lead wire or use a beadhead.

Materials: Black Dog Nymph

    Hook:  Size 12-18, 2Xlong nymph hook.

    Thread:  Danville 6/0, black.

    Weight:  Lead wire or gold beadhead.

    Tail:  3 to 5 turkey tail feather fibers.

    Legs/wingcase:  3 wraps of a dark hen neck feather.

    Thorax: : Dubbing from a black Belgian Sheep Dog (but any gray or black dubbing will work fine).

Tying Steps:

Step 1. Prepare an underbody of 7-10 wraps of lead wire. I use wire that is approximately the diameter of the hook shank.

Step 2. Tie in a bunch of hen hackles for the tail and a wire rib. Trim the butt ends close to the body. (This has not yet been done in the photo.)

Step 3. Tie in 4-5 fibers from a turkey tail feather.

Step 4. Wrap the turkey fibers forward so they cover 2/3 of the hook shank and tie them off. I prefer to counter-wrap the fibers.

Step 5. Wrap the wire rib forward in even spirals. Because I counter-wrapped the turkey fibers, the rib wraps across the fibers, adding durability to the fly.

Step 6. Tie in a hen feather by the tip.

Step 7. Wrap the hackle around the shank 3 times, stroking the fibers back toward the bend.

Step 8. This next step will make many cringe. If so, you can stop at step 7 and have a wonderful soft hackle wet fly. But if you are willing to take the next step, trim the top hackle fibers with scissors so they are about the length of a wing case. As the nymph tumbles along in the stream, I believe this gives an overall appearance of legs and wingcase all mixed together.

Step 9. Dub enough of your thread to make several wraps of dubbing in front of the hackle. One or two wraps should go over the base of the hen hackle collar to help the fibers lie a bit flatter against the body.

The Original

Above is the original.


Peter Frailey The Blackdog Nymph need not be black! Experiment with your own materials and create your own attractor or match-the-hatch patterns. I've given the recipes for some of my favorite BDN's below, but your results will be limited only by your imagination.

Size 16 pheasant tail body, brown hen hackle, and brown poly dubbing.

Size 14 beadhead, tan peacock herl body, badger hen hackle, and tan squirrel dubbing. Note that the tail is made from the marabou-type fibers from the base of a hen feather.

Size 12 peacock herl body, black hen hackle, and black hare's ear dubbing.

Size 12 tan peacock herl body, orange hen hackle, and yellow synthetic dubbing. ~ Peter Frailey

You can contact Peter through his personal Web site

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

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