Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Leisenring And Hidy And The Flymph Patterns

"I differentiate between fishermen and anglers. All anglers are fishermen but not all fishermen are anglers. The fishermen hopes to catch fish while the angler seeks an intangible catch"O.W. Smith

The flymph can be considered the American Soft Hackle. It's also an off shoot of the classic wet fly. Jim Leisenring and Pete Hidy developed the pattern and the presentation style that goes along with it. This fly varies from the English soft hackle in the fact that the slim body is replaced with something more robust (buggy dubbing) to create a wider profile. Leisenring and Hidy also loved hen hackle more than their English counterparts. They used it everywhere!

This fly is also called the "wingless wet" because the creators ditched the lifeless, stiff wing of the traditional wet with NOTHING, just turns of hen hackle to match the emerging insect. And they meant "emerging" because this fly was created to imitate the rising insect form. It was either swung in the current and allowed to come to the surface at the end of the drift with the rod then being raised and lowered to mimic the rising insect again (the famous Leisenring Lift) or fished with a short line upstream while raising the rod as the fly sweeps back to you which, by the way, was Theodore Gordon's wet fly method.

Hook - 10 or 12 wet or dry hook

Tail (optional) - a few wisps of dun hen hackle fibers

Rib - ultra fine copper wire

body - hares ear, Australian possum or anything buggy

Hackle - dun hen hackle tied in at the thorax and wrapped forward. You want a "full" profile

If you feel that you can improve this pattern by putting a bead on it's head you are missing the point. Golf awaits you!
Olive and Brown Hen Flymph

BTW, my spy in Connecticut informed me that the Farmington is LOADED with fish as this State dumped god knows how many of their gorgeous browns into the river last week. The Up Country site backs this up. Everyone is catching fish. I'll wait a month or so to hit the Campground Pool and Spare Tire. Where are those pools?? Buy the Guide to the Farmington River sold at Up Country. It is money well spent!



Brk Trt said...

If you feel that you can improve this pattern by putting a bead on it's head you are missing the point. Golf awaits you!

Love it....

Anonymous said...

Ken , Thank you for giving us a blog full of valuable,usefull imformation and not the typical generalizing and fish count boasting BS !

Anonymous said...

I started fly fishing not too long ago and I still buy my flies. I have been trying to understand a little better the entomology part of it and I am thinking about start tying, which seems like a whole new hobbie, related but separate, from the fishing part. My question is, how much do you think a fish can tell in terms of detail? Do you tie general patterns instead of specific bugs? If I see flies for a Quill Gordon, a March Brown and a Hendrickson I can barely tell the difference between them and I wonder if I can use the fly interchangeably as the fish wont be able to tell the difference. My point is that there are more differences between the actual insects and the flies than among the flies. Any thoughts? Also, thank you for posting this kind of entries, I find them really useful.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Brk Trt,

You make me feel good. Sometimes I feel I'm crying in the wilderness! Someday we will meet!

Anonymous 1,
Thank YOU!!!!!

Anonymous 2,
You said tying could be "related but separate". You are on the right track. The great Jack Garthside said that if he couldn't fly fish any longer he would still tie flies! Same with me!

I tie general patterns for fly fishing and specific patterns for my pleasure. The difference between our man made creations will come to you BUT most aquatic flies/nymphs look pretty much the same and only differ in size and profile(shape).

Keep asking questions and email me if you want!


Anonymous said...

So if I want to get this fly a little bit deeper by putting a bead on it, I should take up golf? I forgot the rules of fly fishing were so strict. Do you know where I can get a good deal on a set of used clubs?
Mike from Worcester

Millers River Flyfisher said...


I was making a nod towards tradition by making the bead comment. This time proven pattern is not improved by adding tungsten to it but your line mending would need to improve if you want more depth which, by the way, is not how this fly is fished. It's an emerger pattern. Next thing will be bead headed Atlantic Salmon flies!!!

I have a set of golf clubs that haven't been used in years. Make me an offer.

Unknown said...

Brk Trt, great post lol

Herm said...

"My question is, how much do you think a fish can tell in terms of detail?"

I lived and fished in Europe for quite a while, where there are some really expert fly tyers. You should see some of the detailed nymphs they tie, so realistic you think they'll bite you. BUT those super realistic patterns don't catch more fish.

I'm a slow and meticulous fly tyer, but overdoing detail is not necessary (no fish will count to see if there are two or three tail fibers). It's the general impression that is important, and that includes, as Ken rightly pointed out, size and profile (shape), and I would add, color. Sometimes color makes a big difference.

Fly tying and fly fishing go hand-in-hand. I would even dare say that tying your own flies can make you a better flyfisherman, at least, a more aware one.


Millers River Flyfisher said...


I agree. Point well taken!


Lenny said...

I think you're right Herm. Once you have confidence in the flies you tie, I think it does make you better because you won't find yourself switching, and you'll only have flies on you that you need. Plus, it makes you more aware of stream entomology.


Mark O said...

To anonymous 2 I would recommend Dave Hughes book trout flies. The first two chapters are gold. He writes about impressionistic verses imitative flies among other things. I think it will help out, it did for me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the suggestions and comments. Hopefully, when I start tying, I'll discover that my 1st grade teacher was wrong when she said that my fine motor skills sucked.

BobT said...

This post got me thinking about a fly style I tied but never had the opportunity to use last season. A Jingler style fly. Craig Matthews put me onto them last time at his shop, he was starting to play with it and liked it.Pretty fly-a dry wet combo-I tied a bunch up but either left them on the desk or it wasn't a good time to try them. has anyone tried it or heard of it? Sorry to come out of left field on this...but a light went off in my head while reading this post.

Erik said...

Hi Ken. I really appreciate the information in your blog and check it everyday to try and learn more. I started fishing the upper section of the Millers last summer (access in South Royalston). I am eager to get back there and have been watching the flow rate. At what flow rate do you think that section will be fishable again? Thanks, -Erik

Millers River Flyfisher said...


400 cfs is a good starting point.