Peninsula Fly Fishers

Hexagenia Emerger Redux

a.k.a. Tom's PFD Emerger

by Tom KilFoil

April 2005

Finished Hex Emergers
Hook Mustad 75980, 4X long, Size 8, 10, or 12
Thread Danville Yellow, 3/0
Tail #80966 Mottled Olive Marabou (North Umpqua) of a yellow-olive color
Body #82711 Hexagenia color Sparkle Blend, or similar Antron Dubbing
Wing case Yellow foam, 1/8" thick. (Micheal's sells a 8-1/2" x 11" sheet for $1.)
Hackle Ginger colored tied parachute style

Tying Instructions

Start of hex emerger
  1. Using yellow thread tie in a bunch of olive yellow marabou about 1" long past the end of the hook. Wrap it down securely bringing the thread forward to about 1/4" behind eye.
Creating posted dear hair wing
  1. Next wrap in a posted deer hair wing. Take a small bunch of yellow deer body hair at least 1-1/4" long. Comb out the fine hairs, put in a stacker, and shake down to bring tips together. Trim the butt ends. With the tips facing to the front, grab the butt ends with your left hand, if you wrap the thread with your right. Hold the butt ends about 1/2" behind the thread and take a couple of wraps around the hair. You will have to hold the hair tightly at the top of the hook to prevent it from spinning around the hook.

    Continue to wrap the hair down towards the back then forward to the starting point. Then lift the tip ends up and wrap your thread in front of the hair pulling it back to an up-right position. After about 3 or 4 turns in front of the hair, start wrapping thread around the hair upward about 1/8" then back down to the hook to form the post. At this point I throw a half hitch in front of the posted wing to secure the thread and cut the surplus butt ends of the deer hair with a taper towards the back. Wrap the thread back and partially cover the butt ends and bring the thread back where the marabou was secured. Coat the body and bottom of the wing with head cement and let dry.
yarn body wrap
  1. Using an antron dubbing of a hexagenia color (dull gold color) wrap a tapered body up to and just past the posted wing. Be sure to cut down on the dubbing as you go past the wing, as you don't want a big blunt end in front.

    (Alternative) I played with some modification made 3/15/05 by adding a yellow foam thorax. These changes are described next:

    Alternative wrap
    1. During Step 3 I stopped adding dubbing ½ way up the body. With a 6" strip of 1/8" foam that is 3/8" wide, cut the tip to a point with a 1/8" head. Tie the foam down with the tip just behind the posted wing.
    Adding foam body
    Dub over foam
    1. Tie the foam down back to where the dubbed body stopped. While the foam is still pointed to the back of the fly, finish dubbing the body over the tied down foam leaving a small gap behind the posted wing. I use a dubbing loop for most of my dubbing.
    Fold over foam
    1. Fold over the foam and tie down behind wing tightly. After about 6 strong wraps of thread cut foam as low as possible. If little wings of foam protrude trim them so there is room to tie down hackle in front of the wing.
adding hackle
  1. Use two long ginger dry fly hackles 3" - 4" and pull off the butt end fluff up to the good dry fly hackle. Trim butt end leaving about ¼" of the ends to tie down the feathers. With dull side facing down (dry-fly side of feather) secure feathers at the base of the posted wing with the butts facing to the front.
finished regular pattern
  1. Before I wrap the hackle around the posted wing I put head cement over the threads holding down the feathers. I then wrap the feathers one at a time around the posted wing, tying each off in front of the wing. Once both feathers are wrapped and secured, I put a small amount of dubbing over the front end of the fly, then I use a half hitch tool to put about 4 half hitches to secure the end. Then, holding the hackle up out of the way, I whip finish over the fly and apply head cement to the head. The finished standard tie is shown above, and the alternative version using foam is shown below.
finished alternative pattern

Fishing the Hex Emerger

It may seem that I put too much thread on my fly, but the big trout can really tear into them. I want them to hold together because when you are fishing at dusk, you don't have a lot of light to be changing flies.

Before fishing the fly be sure to put floatant over the whole front of the fly but take care not to get any on the marabou. If while fishing you find that the fly gets top heavy and falls over onto its side because the posted wing becomes water-logged, false cast it a few times to dry it out and/or trim off the top of the wing.

The secret to getting the fish to hit is to make your fly work. Cast the fly. Just after it lands strip it in about 4" to 6 " then pause. Wait a few seconds then strip in again then pause. If you see a fish rise, try to cast a few feet in front of where he rose. Start your strip and pause action. You would be surprised how effective it can be.

Before you go after trout during a Hex Hatch, practice your casting during the day somewhere, especially from your float tube or boat. Try single-haul casting where you lift your line off the water, say from 12 o'clock, and turn fast and cast to the 3 o'clock location with no false casting or at most one false cast. Then try to cast immediately behind you using the line on the water to the front as a way to load your line to cast behind you. The faster you can react to a rise of a trout the more successful you will be during a Hex Hatch.

Good tying and fishing.


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