This is Jim Rusher’s Steelhead Nymph. it’s an awesome pattern that’s fairly easy to tie, especially when you throw in a couple of little tricks.
For a hook, I’m going to use a Lightning Strike SN1 in size 10. Start by getting your hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of black UTC 140 Denier. Start your thread on the hook shank, leaving an eye length space behind the eye, and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
I’m going to use standard-sized Ultra Chenille in purple for the body of the fly, but color choice is entirely up to you. A 2-card width segment is plenty for a fly of this size. Get hold of one end of the chenille and lay it on top of the hook shank at the tie-in point. Take thread wraps rearward to bind the chenille firmly to the top of the shank, ending with your tying thread just behind the hook point. To prevent the chenille from spinning around the hook, take a couple of wraps with your tying thread around the bare shank and then take a few more around both the shank and the chenille.
Black goose biots are used for the tails of the fly. Snip two off close to the stem. Get hold of one of the biots and orient it so the curve is pointing towards you. Measure to form a tail a little more than a hook gap in length and then secure the biot to the near side of the hook shank with a few firm wraps of tying thread.
Now, pick up the other biot, and with the curve facing away from you, measure to form a tail the same length as the first, then secure it to the far side of the hook. If you’ve done everything correctly, the tails should splay gently outward. Continue taking thread wraps forward to the midpoint of the hook shank.
Here’s the first little trick. I like to tie in the wing case material, black diamond braid, now as opposed to later - an inch and a half long segment is more than enough. Lay one end of the material on top of the hook shank so it extends to halfway between your tying thread and the base of the tail. Re-grip the material with the thumb and index finger of your left hand and start taking thread wraps to tie it in. Wrap forward until you’ve bound the diamond braid down so its base is located at the 2/3’s point on the hook shank. When you’re satisfied with the braid’s position, begin taking wraps rearward with your tying thread to bind the butt end down. The end result of this is that you’ve built up a slightly tapered abdomen underbody on the fly. Pull the diamond braid back and continue taking thread wraps forward almost to the initial tie-in point.
Now for another little trick. Get hold of the chenille and pull it down between the hook shank and the far goose biot. Then carry it underneath the shank but behind the near biot. This will splay the tails even more. Pinch the tails together and make the first wrap with the chenille right in front of their bases. Doing this really helps to keep the tails splayed and, at the same time, produces a good looking butt end on the fly. Continue making touching wraps with the chenille up the hook shank to create a nice even abdomen. When you reach the diamond braid, pull it back and take a wrap or two in front of it with the chenille. Then bind a short length of the chenille to the bare hook shank. Lift the butt end of the chenille up and snip it off close. Use your tying thread to create a smooth ramp from the hook shank all the way up to the base of the diamond braid.
Medium-sized pearl chenille or estaz is used to form the thorax of the fly. Once again, an inch and a half is more than enough material. Strip just a few fibers from one end to expose the bare string core. Bind the string down all the way back to the base of the wing case with wraps of tying thread. Then, relocate your thread forward to behind the hook eye. Get hold of the pearl chenille and start making touching wraps forward, toward the hook eye, 2-3 ought to do it. You can then secure the material with 3 or 4 tight turns of tying thread. Carefully trim the excess off close, and then sweep the fibers rearward and take thread wraps to hold them back. Yes, this is a crowded head but it’s hard to avoid on this pattern. Trimming wayward fibers out wherever and whenever you can will help to keep the hook eye clear in the end.
Pull the diamond braid forward and stretch it tight out over the hook eye, then secure it with a few wraps of tying thread. Get hold of the excess diamond braid and snip it off close, doing your best not to cut your tying thread in the process. Take a few more wraps to neaten up the head of the fly and then do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish to secure your tying thread. Once you have the knot well seated, snip or cut your tying thread free. If you’ve got any wayward fibers blocking the hook eye, now’s a good time to snip them out.
You can fish the pattern like this but I really like the look and the durability when a coating of UV cure resin is added. It just seems to pull everything together. Try to have the resin extend from a little ways onto the abdomen and out over top of the thread head. Once you’re satisfied with the look, switch on your UV torch and use it to cure the material.
Definitely try Rusher’s Steelhead Nymph in different colors. Generally, I like to keep the thorax the same color or lighter than the abdomen. Other than that, I think there’s a time and a place for nearly any color combination imaginable.