Although the Breadline Emerger can be tied to imitate just about any mayfly, I particularly like it for the sulphur hatch. If your high riding dries are being shunned or carefully inspected without a take, switch over to a Breadline and you’ll usually get results.
For a hook, I like a 1X long Dai-Riki #300, here a size 14. Begin by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For thread, UTC 70 Denier is a good choice. I’m using a color called wood duck, but yellow or light brown are fine. Start your thread about 1/3 of the way down the hook shank and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
Golden brown Antron yarn or a similar material is used to form the trailing shuck. A 4” length will make numerous flies. I prefer a nice, thin shuck so I’ll split the yarn in half lengthwise and put one half aside. Get hold of an end and snip it off square. Place that end over the tie-in point and take a couple of thread wraps to hold it in place. Pull the material under the wraps to secure it by the end. Continue taking thread wraps rearward, lifting the Antron slightly so you’re anchoring it on top of the hook shank. Keep making thread wraps all the way back to the start of the bend. Snip the Antron off to form a trailing shuck about a hook shank in length. Make sure no one sees you do this. EZ hackle pliers can be used to secure one end of the excess material so it’s ready for the next Breadline Emerger and won’t get lost on your tying bench.
For the body of the fly, strip a single turkey biot free from the stem, here the color is amber but use whatever best matches the naturals. Orient the biot so the little notch at its base is facing up and forward along with the translucent edge. Lay the tip of the biot against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it. Keep on taking wraps all the way up to just past the initial tie-in point. Begin making overlapping wraps with the biot, you should notice a little fuzzy edge sticking up which helps to provide segmentation. Continue wrapping all the way up to your tying thread being careful not to let go in the process. You can use hackle pliers if you like. Take a few tight wraps with your tying thread to secure the biot to the shank and then snip the excess off close.
With the excess removed, relocate your tying thread rearward to 1/3 of the way down the shank. This position is fairly critical. You also want to keep this section as flat and even as possible to help your hackle wrap correctly.
For hackle color, I’ve chosen golden straw but nearly any shade of yellow or even cream or light dun will work. It’s always a good idea to check the barbule length before pulling the feather free from the skin. Locate the point on the feather where the lower webby fibers stop then pull them down and strip them off to expose bare stem. Snip the stem off, leaving about 1/8”. I like to strip a few more fibers from the top edge of the stem to ensure the feather wraps the way I want it to. Lay the stem against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it all the way up to the bare shank.
Start making touching wraps with the feather, notice how that extra bit of stripped stem helps it to orient correctly. Continue taking wraps to create a full, even hackle collar. You should be able to fit 5 or 6 turns in before you get to your tying thread. Once there, use it to firmly anchor the hackle tip to the hook shank. With the hackle really locked down, reach in with the very tips of your tying scissors and snip the excess off close. Then, use your scissors to snip out a wedge of fibers from the top of the hackle collar to make room for the emergent wing.
Natural colored fur from the foot of a snowshoe rabbit is used to create the wing of the fly. Snip a small clump free from the bottom of the foot, back by the heel. Pull out the longer, stiffer guard hairs and then remove the shorter, fluffy stuff from the butt ends. This will leave you with a nice little clump of usually light grey, kinky fibers. Lay the clump on top of the hook shank so the tips extend to the rear edge of the body. Using a pinch wrap, secure the snowshoe right behind the eye. Bind it down really well with wraps of tying thread, making sure it stays on top of the hook shank. Then, reach in with your tying scissors and, using the angled hook eye as a guide, snip the butt ends off close. Continue taking wraps of tying thread to cover up the butts and further secure the wing. In the end, the wing should be fairly sparse and can actually be a little shorter than shown here.
Rabbit fur dubbing is used to form the thorax, I’m using a ginger color which really compliments the other colors in the fly. Build a short thin dubbing noodle on your tying thread, less is usually more. Start taking wraps with the noodle between the wing and the eye to cover the thread wraps and build up the thorax. When you’re done, do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish and snip or cut your tying thread free.
Give a final check to make sure the wing is still located on top of the hook shank. Then flip the fly over and cut a wedge out of the bottom of the hackle collar. This will leave you with two little outriggers on either side of the fly to help float and stabilize it right in the surface film.
With some practice, the Breadline Emerger is a fairly simple and quick tie that works remarkably well. I’m surprised this pattern hasn’t gotten more attention over the years, it’s certainly deserves it.