Gary Lafontaine’s 1981 groundbreaking book, "Caddisflies", introduced fly anglers to his Sparkle pupa and Sparkle emerger patterns. Both incorporate the shuck, or sheath, around the abdomen to represent the shedding outer skin of the insect as it detaches from the adult inside. This was accomplished with the use of a soft, reflective synthetic carpet fiber called Antron.
Here Matt Grobert, author of the book "Fly Fishing New Jersey Trout Streams" and creator of the blog "Caddis Chronicles" is going to tie his version of the LaFontaine Brown and Yellow Sparkle Emerger.
Matt is using a size 12, Tiemco 100, dry fly hook. He begins by using the jaws of his vise to flatten the barb. For thread, he's using 6/0 black Danville.
Start your thread leaving a small amount of space behind the hook eye and wind back to about the hook point. Get hold of a clump of golden yellow Antron and using both hands, pull the clump apart in opposite directions, several times. This process is called "carding" and it aligns the fibers. Separate a small hank of aligned fibers from the clump and secure them to the far side of the hook shank. Pull another slightly heavier hank from the clump and secure it to the near side (of the hook shank). Adjust both clumps to ensure you have Antron fibers completely encircling the hook shank.
With open spiral wraps, work toward the eye, securing the Antron fibers as you go. The idea is to form a relatively uniform underbody. End with your thread back near the rear of the fly. Snip off the remaining butt ends of the Antron.
Create a noodle of yellow-brown Antron and wrap it up the hook shank, over the underbody, leaving some open space behind the eye. Pull the golden yellow Antron forward, over the dubbed body. Take a few collecting wraps to loosely hold the fibers in place.
With very fine tipped scissors, snip a few of the fibers at the upper near side of the sheath. This is why you made the near side clump slightly heavier. Carefully pull the snipped fibers rearward and give them a little twist to create a trailing shuck.
Now, starting at the top of the fly, slip your dubbing needle under the Antron fibers and pull up slightly. Then do the same on the bottom, the near side and finally, on the far side. Then take several firm wraps to lock the expanded sheath in place. With that done, snip the remainder of the Antron off close.
To form the emerging wings of the fly, snip a small amount of natural deer hair from the hide. Pull the fuzzies from the butt ends and then use a hair stacker to align the tips. Grab the aligned bundle of hair and secure it to the top of the hook shank with a couple of pinch wraps followed by several more tight wraps. The tips of the deer hair should extend to about the bend of the hook. Pull the butt ends up and snip them off as close as you can. Take a bunch of tight wraps to further secure the deer hair butts.
To form the thorax of the fly, dub a short, thin noodle of brown Australian possum. Wrap the noodle over top of the thread wraps holding the deer hair in place.
Finally, whip finish a small, neat head and then snip or cut your tying thread free. And there you go, a completed LaFontaine Sparkle Emerger.
Matt has made tying this fly look easy but for many this pattern can prove to be a real challenge. Stick with it though, as this and the Sparkle Pupa are nothing short of miraculous when it comes to catching trout.