Peninsula Fly Fishers

The Soft Hackle Stoneflies

Mike McGuire

This is a fly that I have found effective in spring and early summer in quite a number of rivers in Northern California from the Trinity to Hat Creek to the San Joaquin. Depending on the colors chosen it can imitate golden or giant stoneflies.


Hook: Size 8 curved shank 3X long wet fly, e.g. Tiemco 200R or straight 3X-long hook will also work.
Thread: Tan or yellow
Hackle: Pheasant church window feather
Tails: Tan or gold goose biots
Body: Medium Vinyl Rib
Thorax: Mix of brown and yellow ostrich herls made into a chenille with fine copper wire
(For the giant stonefly, make all the colors black)


Start the thread at the eye and take it about a quarter of the way to the point of the hook. Half strip the hackle feather as described in the Herl Brush Soft Hackle and tie the shaft to the hook shank. Trim the end of the shaft and tie on the vinyl rib at the trim. This material has a flat side and a half round side. Be sure to tie it on with the flat side to the shank, or it will be difficult to wind on with the half round side out. Take the thread down to opposite the point of the barb, bind the vinyl rib to the shank. Tie in a goose biot on both sides of the shank here and take the thread back to the end of the feather shaft as shown in the picture.
To get the smoothest start on the wrap of the vinyl rib, take it under the biot on the side away from you and wrap it up to the thread and tie it off. To tie it off securely, take a wrap over it, a wrap under it, another over, another under and finally over before trimming it. Here tie in a ten inch piece of fine copper wire at it's midpoint, and three yellow and three brown ostrich herls and take the thread to just behind where the hackle is tied in.
Loosely wrap one of the strands of copper wire around the herls, about three or four turns over their length and grab it, the herls, and the other strand with hackle pliers. Insert some sort of hook (can be made from a paper clip) into the loop of the hackle pliers (near right) and spin the assembly into a chenille (far right). Don't overdo the twist and break the wire or the herls. Up near the tie in point it won't be securely twisted. To fix this move the pliers to about an inch below the tie in point and twist there.
Wrap about three turns of the chenille forward to just behind where the hackle is tied it, lift up the hackle and continue winding the chenille up to the eye of the hook. Now wrap the hackle, about three turns towards the back and tie it off with the thread which we left just behind the hackle tie-in. Wrap the thread forward throught the hackle and over the chenille to the eye and whip finish. Trim the chenille and it's done.

The golden stonefly

The giant stonefly

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