Don's Fly Tying - the Tom Thumb

[the Tom Thumb]

Hot summer weather often brings doldrums to successful trout fishing as those elusive fish seek cooler depths for much of the day. However, have you ever noticed that late in the evening, even on hot summer days, good rises will occur in the shallows? That is the time to bring out one of the most reliable dry flies ever devised, the Tom Thumb! It is traditionally tied with deer hair but I favour elk hair as the latter stands up much better to the violent strikes of large rainbow trout. I have also found that elk hair does not lessen the attraction of the feeding trout so much less time is lost changing flies in the late evening light as is the case with deer hair Tom Thumbs! This month we will examine an all time dry fly favorite, the Tom Thumb dry.



Start by cutting a piece of elk hair exactly twice the length of the body, half to project back to form the fly tail and the rest tied down to the hook shank for the fly body! Gray wool or other materials could be used to make the body but I prefer the elk hair as the fly will float much better. Next, cut another piece of elk hair, this time approximately three times the length of the fly body. Place the larger cut end near the hook eye where you will gently cinch it down with your tying thread and wrap it through to the hook bend, taking care not to let the hair spring out. Next, fold the hair back to the hook eye where you will tightly tie it down, allowing the hair ends to spring up to form the wing. Finally, wrap a few turns of brown or gray hen hackle at the hook eye. If you make one or two turns both in front and behind the hair wing, the fly will tend to stand up better. Finally, tie off, cement and you have finished the legendary Tom Thumb dry fly. Of course, if you do not have access to elk hair, the more commonly found deer hair can be used.

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