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Little Black Stonefly Pattern & Tying Instructions

Fly Tying Recipe: Little Black Stonefly
Standard dry-fly hook, size 16
Black, 8/0 or 70-denier
Slate gray CDC
Coq de Leon soft hackle feather
Grizzly, timmed on bottom
Tying thread
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Video Transcript:

I first saw this little black stone fly pattern with a wonder wing a few years ago when Johnny Utah tied it on video. They look great, are really quite easy to tie and, best of all, are very effective. Since that time, I’ve made a few of my own tweaks to the pattern but it’s basically the same as Johnny tied.

For a hook, a Dai-Riki #300 size 16 works well. Start by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in your tying vise.

For thread, UTC 70 Denier in black is a good choice. Get your thread started on the hook shank a full eye length space behind the eye and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. Continue taking wraps rearward all the way to the start of the bend.

I like to make the body of the fly from a single, slate gray CDC feather as opposed to dubbing. Pull all the fibers toward the tip of the feather and then get hold of it so just the tip is exposed. Place this at the tie-in point and take a wrap or two to lightly secure it. Gently pull rearward on the feather so only it's very tips are fastened to the hook. To really anchor them, pull the tips back and take a wrap just around the shank before starting to wrap forward to the initial tie-in point.

Get hold of the butt end of the feather with hackle pliers and give it a few twists, not too many. Start taking touching wraps with the twisted feather up the hook shank to form a subtly segmented body. Some of the fibers will stick out like you see here, and this is what you want. At the tie-in point, secure the feather well and snip the excess off close. The stray fibers do a remarkable job of imitating legs and tails on the finished fly.

For the wing, you can use a variety of feathers, hen, partridge, wood duck, just about anything you have with good color and markings. Here, I’m using Coq de Leon soft hackle. Strip the lower fluffy fibers free from the stem and then snip the butt of the stem off so it’s not in the way. Pull a half inch or so of the lower fibers down the stem with equal amounts of fibers pulled down on each side. Place the intersection against the near side of the hook at the tie-in point and take two thread wraps to lightly secure it. Gently work the stem to the top of the hook shank and begin pulling it rearward under the thread wraps. Keep pulling until the intersection point is located about 1/2 a shank length behind the hook bend. When you’re satisfied with the length, take several more thread wraps to further secure the feather.

To trim away the excess, start by lifting up and snipping the stem off close. Then, pull the remaining fibers back and take a full wrap or two around just the hook shank before pulling the fibers forward and taking more wraps over top of them. Doing this really helps to lock things down and prevents the newly formed wing from rotating around the hook shank.

Once everything’s in place, lift the fibers up to vertical and, using your hook eye as a guide, snip them off at a shallow angle. After you’ve made sure the eye is clear, take thread wraps rearward to build a smooth foundation for hackle wraps. At this point, you can make subtle adjustments to the wing to get it into the correct orientation straight down the back of the hook. When you’re satisfied, snip the excess tip off at the intersection point. Viewed from above, the finished wing should look something like this.

For hackle, I’m going to use grizzly but dark dun or black also look good. This feather’s just barely in the size 14 range and you can go oversized a bit if you like, it really doesn’t matter on this pattern. Strip the lower fuzzy fibers free from both sides of the stem and then snip the stem off leaving about 1/4 of an inch. Lay the stem against the near side of the hook so the butt end lands right at the return of the hook eye. Thread torque will carry the stem to the top of the hook shank during tie-in. End with your thread right behind the eye.

Fold the feather forward out over the eye and then take thread wraps to secure it that way. The first hackle wrap can be a bit tricky to get started, but once you do, the rest should fall into place nicely. Continue taking hackle wraps all the way back to the base of the wing and then secure the hackle with 2 or 3 turns of tying thread. With the tips secured, zig zag your thread forward through the hackle to behind the hook eye. Then, do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish and snip or cut your tying thread free. You can snip the excess tip off if you like but it’s usually easier just to get hold of it and pull forward to break it off close.

This fly is meant to ride flush in the surface film, so go in with your tying scissors and trim off all the hackle fibers from the underside of the hook. Try your best not to snip the CDC fibers in the process.

As you can see, it floats beautifully in the film and both the hackle fibers and the trailing CDC dimple the water just as a natural would. It’s a great little pattern everybody should carry during the early season.