Expert fly tier, Earl Anderson, who worked in the downtown Vancouver Woodward's Sporting Goods Department for many years, was my first fly tying teacher. I still feel that I owe much to Earl for his patience, dedication and extraordinary expertise in all aspects of fly fishing. I had broken a knee cap while coaching minor hockey (that is another story!) and while fitted with a plaster cast for many weeks, I found the inspiration to sign up for a night school course in fly tying, a dream that had been pushed aside with the continuing excuse, I'm too busy now and will do it next year! The hockey accident turned out to be a lucky break as my instructor for the fly tying course turned out to be Earl Anderson and I still use those fundamentals that he taught me many years ago!
The subject of this month's fly tying article is a fly that Earl invented to imitate the large stone fly nymphs that can be found in BC waters such as the Mahood river. However, the effectiveness of this fly is not just restricted to rivers but it can at times perform marvellously well in such great still water places like Dragon Lake, which is a few kilometers south of Quesnel. Earl used a philosophy that big flies can catch big fish and I have found that to be certainly true while fishing for those huge rainbows in Dragon Lake using the Earl Anderson stonefly nymph.
The best wool for the fly body is a course, large size variety, almost approaching the size of some smaller yarns used by steelheaders. Start by wrapping the yellow wool hook bend to eye in a fairly loose manner and tie off. Then lay a smaller strand of rich dark brown wool along the top of the body and starting at the hook eye, run your tying thread to the hook bend and back again purposely creating bumps in the brown wool back. The spacing of the tying thread wraps should be far enough apart to allow you to use tweezers to pull out the yellow wool between the thread gaps all along the body. Next tie in an olive green hackle about 1/3 of the way from the hook bend and palmer it forward to the hook eye. Trim off the top half of the olive hackle to create the illusion of legs. Note that you could have palmered in the leg hackle prior to placing the top brown wool body overlay but the top hackle stubs left after trimming sometimes adds to the effectiveness of the fly. The last step is to place a few turns of peacock herl to form a head at the hook eye, whip finish, cement and you have just created a famous BC fly, the Earl Anderson stone nymph!
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