How to Tie the Stimulator Fly: Step by Step Instructions

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The stimulator fly is one of those fly tying patterns that does not necessarily denote a specific fly, but more an arrangement of patterns to use with differing color variations. The stimulator can be used effectively from early spring through summer as it effectively imitates a number of winged insects. Tied in sizes 10 to 16 (tan or olive dressing) stimulators can be an excellent caddis imitation. Tied in sizes 6-12 (yellow or brown dressing) stimulators are hard to beat as stonefly patterns. In addition, larger sized earth toned stimulators can be used with great success to imitate the many summer hoppers seen along your favorite rivers.

To best understand when and where to fish stimulator patterns, it is useful to understand the lifestyle of the critters they are generally used to imitate. Stonefly nymphs live on the stream bottom, clinging to rocks, sticks and whatever else is available. Once they mature, these nymphs crawl out of the water and discard their shucks for a fresh pair of wings. As the day warms, the adult flies will become active and begin their search for a mate. During this courting process flies are often blown down to the water's surface or fall out of overhanging vegetation. Near dusk the female stoneflies gather in hoards and return to the river to lay their eggs. Once on the water and void of their eggs, these flies either drown or are greedily eaten by trout.StimulatorFly 300x225

Keeping this process in mind, some of the most ideal places to fish stimulator patterns would then be near the bank just downstream or downwind from overhanging vegetation. Fish will have a hard time passing up these hefty morsels as they plop down on the water's surface. Another key place to use stimulator patterns is around log jams or near rocks that extend out of the water's surface. Stone fly nymphs will crawl out and up on rocks and logs in order to change from the nymph to the airborne adult fly. During this process, fish will feed heavily on the nymphs that get caught in the current or have trouble flying and find themselves repeated falling back to the water's surface.

The stimulator fly pattern should be fished using standard dry-fly presentations. Upstream-and-across presentations with frequent line mends should be your first approach at fishing long runs or rifles. If you find that your fly is sinking as it drifts, applying a bit of floatant should keep it riding high for the remainder of the day. If you fish a riffle and are not moving fish like you think you should, it is worth a cast or two to try and swing (skate) the fly across the river current. This technique can be done using a downstream approach, which allows the line to drag the fly from where you cast it to a point directly beneath you. In some situations, all you need to do to get fish to commit is simply apply a little motion to your drift.

Materials List

Hook Curved Shank Fly Hook
Thread Orange Uni Thread 8/0
Hackle Brown/Grizzly Dry-Fly Hackle
Tail Deer Hair
Body Yellow Four Strand Nylon Floss
Head Orange Four Strand Nylon Floss
Wings Deer Hair
Rib Fine Copper Ultra Wire


Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1

Place your hook in the vice and secure tightly in place.

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Step 2

Attach the thread to the hook shank at the 3/4 mark on the shank.

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Step 3

Select a small clump of deer hair. Clean out the under fur and stack the tips of the hair.

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Step 4

Tie the tail on to the hook shank at the point above the barb. Take care not to use too much pressure at first; too much pressure will cause the hair to flair out. Wrap down all the tag ends of the deer hair with thread.

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Step 5

Tie in a piece of copper wire. This will be used to rib the fly and secure the hackle.

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Step 6

Tie in a small strip of yellow floss at the 1/2 way mark on the shank. Wrap this floss down and back up the body of the fly.

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Step 7

Select a brown hackle and tie it in at the point where you stopped dubbing the body. Wind this hackle down the body of the fly toward the tail.

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Step 8

Once you reach the tail of the fly, counter wind the copper wire forward (in the opposite direction that you wrapped the hackle) securing the hackle in place.

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Step 9

Select a second larger clump of deer hair. Clean out the under fur and stack the tips of the hair. Tie this hair in over top of the body you just created. Again, be careful not to put too much pressure on the thread and flair the hair.

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Step 10

Select a long grizzly hackle and tie it in ahead of the deer-hair wing. Tie in a small strip of orange floss and make a small tapered head towards the eye of the hook.

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Step 11

Wrap the hackle tightly toward the head of the fly, creating a large bushy head. Whip-finish the thread and cement.

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