If I have one fly tying/fishing "regret", it would have to be not trying these incredible patterns sooner. Three years ago (in the wake of a none-too productive outing to our local caddis factory~the Grand River) I told my wife that for Christmas that year, i’d like a copy of a book called "Caddisflies" by Gary LaFontaine. By the time Christmas had arrived, i’d forgotten the request but was very pleased with the gift.
The culmination of 10 years of research on this insect sitting in my lap was a bit intimidating. While Gary’s devotion and passion for the subject shines through, the book has an almost "textbook" air about it.
A reference book with no rival, an awesome book for fly fishers and tiers
While there is simply no way to quickly sum-up Gary’s research in a few lines, I’ll quote his words from the book. In a passage discussing what a caddis patterns have never really achieved (and in the wake of more than 3 years of his own scuba diving research in rivers during periods of heavy caddis activity) Gary wrote; "When a caddis fly pupa emerges it fills a transparent sheath around its body with air bubbles.
These globules of air shimmer and sparkle as they reflect sunlight, creating a highly visible triggering characteristic. This sparkle is the key to imitating the emergent caddisflies." An added benefit for all fly fishers was Gary’s "discovery" of a synthetic called Antron, a tri-lobal nylon filament developed by DuPont for use in carpets. As the name suggests, the filament is 3-sided~developed to reflect as much light (and make stains less obvious) as possible. Gary discovered that, when combed-out and tied so that it envelopes the body, the material traps air bubbles and reflects light like no pattern had ever done. These experiments resulted in the Deep Sparkle Pupa, and the Emergent Sparkle Pupa i’ve done my best to illustrate here.
In searching for the proper Antron yarn for the job, I found Greycliff Publishing Co. in Montana. Greycliff not only publish Gary’s book (an many others of interest to fly fishers) they are THE source for Gary’s patterns and the materials used in them. In fact, they designed and made small combs specifically for the task of preparing the antron for tying! If caddis patterns are among your repertoire of flies, i’d urge you to contact www.greycliff.com and get your hands on some of this material. You can also buy a copy of "Caddisflies" while you’re at it.
Tying The Emergent Sparkle Pupa Pattern
Hook:dry fly, size to match naturals (I like Tiemco #101 and #100)
Thread:8/0 to match under/overbody
Underbody:sparkle yarn cut to 1/8" lengths and blended fur to match overbody
Wing:coastal deer hair
Head:fur or wrapped marabou fibers (darker than underbody)
Separate the 4 strands of the yarn, the fly will require 2. Flies larger than #10 or #12 need more than 2 strands. Comb-out the two strands as shown.
Tie one strand to the bottom of the hook shank, the other to the top.
Dub the underbody forward, approx. 2/3 of the hook shank
Pull the top bunch of sparkle yarn over the top of the fly and tie-off, repeat with the bottom bunch on the bottom.
Using your bodkin, pull the fibers away as shown evenly around the body.
Pinch and roll them (if necessary) to distribute them evenly. Trim-off tag ends of the yarn. Snip a few fibers from the tie-in point to create a trailing shuck.
Cut and stack a small bunch of fine deer hair an tie in (on top) as shown.
Dub a head using dark fur. (dark brown hare-tron here) or use wrapped marabou.
Custom tools from Greycliff.com
Note on tying underbody;
In an effort to enhance the effect of the overbody, Gary also suggested a method of dubbing the underbody he called "touch dubbing."
He blended the cut yarn/fur as described above and, with the help of some dubbing wax, simply pressed the fur onto the thread. This fuzzy profile had the advantages of the antron and made it difficult to discern an underbody shape. Again, the behavior of the fly being the more important than the profile.
Vise by Peak Flyfishing