"Sometimes, you just need to go downstairs and waggle a rod..."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fly Focus: Rusty Spinner

I used to beat my head against the wall trying to match the midge hatch that was obviously occurring around me on trout streams throughout the Upper Midwest. It was usually around dusk, I couldn't see any bugs on the water, yet there were fish rising consistently everywhere I looked. I tried every midge imitation I could find, because what else could it be?!?!
Rusty Spinner, Size 16

I'll tell you what it could be, and probably was all those times that I was getting frustrated. It was probably a mayfly spinner fall, is was it was. I finally figured that out one evening, fifteen years ago or so, and once I switched to a mayfly spinner imitation, I started to consistently catch fish. What a fun breakthrough that was!

Mayfly spinners are fairly easy to tie. I like to use a goose or turkey biot for the abdomen, and dubbing for the thorax. But you can use dubbing for both. Or any other number of materials. For the wings I prefer antron yarn, but other things like poly yarn, hen hackle tips, and organza can work well, among other things.

For a while I liked to tie the antron wings spent, like a normal spinner, but then also add an antron post and a parachute hackle for visibility. That is an added dimension that can be frustrating to tie, so now I have gone back to the spent wings-only approach. Some people add a little piece of yellow foam over the thorax for visibility. That can be a good idea, since spinners can be difficult to see on the water's surface.

Here's how I tie them:

Rusty Spinner Pattern Recipe

Hook: Tiemco 101 or other straight-eye dry fly hook, size 12-24
Thread: Brown or rust, 8/0 or smaller
Tail: Mayfly Tails, dun
Wing: Antron yarn, white or dun
Abdomen: Goose or turkey biot in rust, brown or tan
Thorax: dry fly dubbing in rust, brown or tan

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