There's nothing like the appearance of little black stoneflies to help ease a bad case of spring fever and this little nymph pattern is easy to tie and imitates them well.
A Dai-Riki #285 3X long nymph hook makes for a well-proportioned little black stone. Although 14's and 16's will work, I really like a size 18 or even 20. Begin by mashing the barb on your hook and getting it firmly secured in your tying vise.
For thread, black UTC 70 Denier will work just fine. Start your thread on the hook shank and take a few wraps before breaking or snipping the tag end off. Wind your thread forward leaving a small amount of space behind the eye.
For antennae and legs, Montana Fly Company's Centipede Legs in the "mini" size work well. Snip a single strand free from the hank and then fold it roughly in half. Form a small loop and place the loop so it extends about a half inch in front of the hook eye. With a pinch wrap, secure the rubber legs to the top of the hook shank and take wraps rearward to about the hook barb. Then wind your tying thread forward to roughly the 1/3 point on the hook shank. Snip the rear rubber legs off so they're about as long as the hook. Next, snip the loop on the front rubber legs and cut them so they're a little less than a hook shank in length.
For the abdomen of the fly, black stretch tubing from Wapsi in the "micro" size works exceptionally well. About a 4-inch length is all that's needed. Secure one end of the stretch tubing to the top of the hook shank and take wraps rearward all the way to the base of the tail and then wind your thread forward to the starting point. Get hold of the stretch tubing and, with a bit of tension, begin making adjacent wraps up the hook shank. You'll find it flattens a bit but maintains a segmented look. At the 1/4 point on the hook shank, firmly secure the stretch tubing with a few tight wraps of tying thread. You can then snip it off close.
For the fly's wing case, snip 6 to 8 natural colored pheasant tail fibers free from the stem and re-orient them so you're holding their tips. Snip the very tip ends off and then place the fibers on top of the hook shank just above your tying thread. Once they're secured, take wraps rearward to the 1/3 point on the hook shank and then advance your thread forward, leaving a small space behind the eye.
For the thorax, dark hare's mask looks good and picks out well. Pull a small clump from the packet and dub it onto your tying thread to create a thin dubbing noodle that's tapered at both ends. Starting just behind the eye, wrap the dubbing rearward all the way to the back end of the wing case and then forward to just behind the eye. Ideally you should end up with something that looks like this.
Pull the pheasant tail fibers forward to form the wing case and secure them with a few tight wraps of tying thread. Lift the butts up and snip them off close to the thread wraps.
Do a 5 or 6 turn whip finish to cover the butts and secure your tying thread. You can then snip or cut the thread off close.
A small strip of velcro on a popsicle stick works great for roughing up and picking out the dubbing. A drop of head cement applied to the wing case and down to the thread wraps really helps to increase the fly's durability. Once it sinks in and dries, it also gives the wing case a bit of shine.
Just because there's still snow on the banks and you can't feel your hands doesn't mean you can't fish. I'll tie this pattern on behind a heavily weighted Prince and it's usually a toss-up which fly gets taken. On this particular day, the Little Black Stone was the clear favorite.