There are buggy-bugs and then there are bug-bugs; and this is by far the buggiest. I’m not real sure where I’ve been but I was turned on to this pattern in a promotional advertisement and later found out it was created by Orvis’s own, Tom Rosenbauer. It turns out this “sleeper emerger” is one of those bugs that is quick to tie, with a little practice, and I’ve experienced days where seemingly every trout in the stream can’t pass up this pattern. That’s not to say it’ll work all of the time but when the fish are keyed in on emergers, cripples, or both, you’ll want to have a couple of these in your box.
It is a pattern that was deceptively difficult to tie, at first. But with a little practice and learning the proportions, it will all fall into place. The nice thing is in my local stream, three colors tied in “close enough” sizes will cover the broad spectrum of bugs. Tied in olive, tan, and brown is good enough to get the job done.
Here, I’ll tie a larger sized bug that is designed for some of Michigan’s larger, darker, early-season mayflies.
Secure your hook in the vise and begin your thread a couple of eye-lengths behind the eye. This will be about where you want the head of the fly to be in the last step so it’s critical you start there. Take a few wraps of thread rearward.
Select a sparse strand of antron and double it over the hook and then make wraps down the bend, ending parallel to the hook point. This will begin making a gradual taper to the fly and give you the proper proportions. Do not trim off the antron with your scissors, instead, pull the antron tight and using one blade of the scissors, saw back and forth. The imperfect cut will provide a better illusion of a trailing nymph shuck.
The original pattern calls for Hare’s Ear dubbing but here, I use Possum Dubbing, instead. It is actually a blend I’ve put together myself, so don’t be afraid to experiment. I create a tight dubbing noodle and frequently like to dub forward and backward a couple times to ensure an accurate taper. The Possum Dubbing does a great job of this. I’ll end my body just short of the original thread tie-in point.
Select a plume of CDC that’s of contrast to the body of the fly. Take two loose wraps around the shank and CDC and then slowly and gently pull the CDC forward exposing a triangle of fibers directly on the underside of the fly. I like to do this until it looks like there are tiny legs dropping down from the abdomen.
When satisfied with the end result, take two more tight wraps forward of thread and the trim out the CDC stem. To keep the CDC in place, create a small dubbing noodle and make a couple wraps directly ahead of it. Then, snip some longer fibers from a hare’s foot. Holding the clump by the tips, strip out the shorter fibers and fur. Then, measure the hair so it extends just beyond the hook bend while directly on top of the hook shank. Transfer this point to the left hand and make two snug wraps with your thread. Take a look at the fly to see if you’re satisfied. When you are, take two or three more wraps of thread over the existing wraps to make sure it’s secured tightly. Then, gently lift up the hair fibers extending over the hook eye. Trim them off at an angle. If the butts are too short to lift up to trim, then take some fine point scissors and, being careful not to cut your thread, trim out the butts around the hook eye. We’re building a bulb-like head at this point.
Make wraps of thread over the butts of the hair to create a nice head that won’t require much dubbing. The last step is to take a slightly darker colored dubbing and with a tight noodle, dub the head.
Once the head is finished, you can advance the thread to just behind the eye of the hook and do a couple three or four-turn whip finishes. Lastly, cut the thread off closely.
As with any fly that has CDC, when it comes time to fishing, do not use gel floatant of any sort as it destroys the fibers. Instead, just a touch of descant powder through the snowshoe rabbit’s foot fibers is all that’s required.
Hook: Mustad Signature C49S (Curved Caddis), Size 10
Thread: Uni 8/0, Black
Trailing Shuck: Antron
Body: Possum Dubbing, Proprietary Blend
Wing: Snowshoe Rabbits Foot
Legs: CDC, Dark Dun
Head: Possum Dubbing