Over the years I’ve simplified my go-to Stonefly pattern to the point where it now looks like this. I actually believe it’s a more effective fly than previous complicated versions, mainly because I’m not afraid of losing one to the bottom. This is a golden stone but you can basically use the same pattern for black, brown and yellow stones as well.
For a hook, a Dai-Riki #285 in a size 14 is a good place to start. Begin by mashing the barb with pliers or in the jaws of your tying vise.
For the head of the fly, I’m going to go with a 7/64” black bead but gold also looks quite nice. Insert the hook point into the small hole of the bead and then relocate the bead to right behind the hook eye. You can then get the hook and bead assembly firmly secured in your tying vise.
.02 round lead-free wire is used both to add weight to the fly and to give it a somewhat flattened shape. Start making wraps with the wire above the hook barb and continue taking touching wraps all the way up the shank to immediately behind the bead. There, helicopter the wire to break it off close and clean. Push the wraps as far up into the bead as possible and then, if necessary, close up any of the spaces between the wraps and manipulate the tail end of the wire into the correct position.
For thread, yellow 70 Denier is a good choice. After loading the spool onto a bobbin, start taking wraps just behind the weight and, after a few turns, snip or break the excess tag off close. Make open spiral wraps over top of the weight, up the hook shank and back down, several times, so thread cross-wraps cover most of the wire. Using needle-nosed pliers, flatten the weight a bit which will result in a more oval, rather than round, shaped body.
Australian Possum is a great dubbing for this pattern and here I’m going to use a golden stone color. For this particular step, a very small pinch is all that’s needed. Make a short, thin dubbing noodle on your tying thread and then take wraps to build up a little ball right at the end of the weight. Then take thread wraps forward up the hook shank to behind the bead.
Brassie sized gold Ultra wire is used for the rib. A 4-6” length is enough to make multiple flies. While laying the wire on top of the hook shank, take thread wraps to secure it. Allow thread torque to carry the wire over and down the far side of the fly. Continue taking thread wraps all the way back to the dubbing ball.
For the tails, snip 2 amber colored goose biots free from the stem. With one of the biots, measure to form a tail about a hook shank in length and lay it against the near side of the hook. The natural curve of the biot should point outward. Take a few thread wraps to lightly secure it. Do the same with a second biot on the far side of the hook. While squeezing the biots together, take thread wraps to secure them to the shank all the way up to the bead. You can then return your tying thread back to the dubbing ball.
Pheasant tail dyed yellow is used to form the darker back of the fly as well as the wing pads. 10-12 fibers is usually enough. Pull them down perpendicular to the stem and strip or snip them off close. The idea is to keep the tips roughly aligned. Lay the tips on top of the hook shank and take thread wraps to secure them. Then, once again, return your thread to the dubbing ball.
Using the same golden stone Australian Possum dubbing as before, build a 3” long tapered noodle on your tying thread and then make adjacent wraps with it up the hook shank to form the abdomen of the fly. It should end about halfway between the hook point and the very front edge of the eye. Leaving your thread in that location, pull the pheasant tail fibers forward over top of the dubbing and secure them with a few wraps of thread.
Once they’re pinned down, get hold of the gold wire and begin making fairly close open wraps up the shank to imitate the stonefly’s narrow abdominal segments. When you reach your tying thread, secure the wire with a few tight turns and then snip or helicopter to break it off close.
Get hold of another pinch of dubbing and this time build a fairly thin 2” long noodle on your tying thread. Pull the pheasant tail fibers back and take wraps with the noodle rearward, a little ways over the abdomen and then forward to the open space. This will anchor the pheasant tail fibers so when you fold them forward and secure them with wraps of thread, they’ll form the first of two small wing pads.
Now, you’re basically going to repeat the same procedure for a second time. Build up a dubbing noodle on your tying thread. Take wraps back to anchor the pheasant tail and then end with your thread at the back edge of the bead. Pull the fibers forward and bind them down to form the second little wing pad. And then finally snip the excess fibers off close to the bead.
Do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, and if you can, place the crossover point on top of the hook. A second whip finish, done in the same manner, can’t hurt. Keeping the intersection up on top will ensure it gets glued in the next step.
Using your favorite UV cure material, build up an ample bump over top of the two wing pads and out onto the bead. Give it a quick shot of UV light to cure and harden the material.
Now comes the fun part. Use a bodkin to pick out the dubbing on either side of the fly’s thorax. This picked-out material not only represents legs and gills, but also helps to give the fly a little motion.
As I said in the beginning, because this pattern is a fairly cheap and certainly quick tie, I won’t hesitate to fish it on or close to the bottom where the trout and stoneflies generally reside. Sure, you can go more complicated and more realistic if you like, but I really don’t think it’s necessary.