I call this fly the Navy Diver. It’s designed to be fished deep and the dark blue body color has been working really well for me, particularly in the late fall and winter.
Although they can be tied in a variety of sizes, I like them fairly small, so here I’m going to use a JF2 size 18 Lightning Strike jig hook paired with a 7/64” slotted gold tungsten bead.
Hooks and beads this small can be tricky to handle so I like to stack the odds in my favor. First get hold of the hook with plunger-style hackle pliers, like so, and then set that aside. Then, stab the bead with a dubbing needle, it doesn’t really matter whether you go through the small hole or the slotted side, just get it onto the dubbing needle. Get hold of the bead in the fingertips of your left hand so the small hole points directly up. This, along with the narrow tip of the hackle pliers will allow you to easily slip the point of the hook into the bead’s small hole and work it around onto the hook shank. You can then get the whole assembly firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise. Make sure the bead rests all the way down the little bend and right up against the back edge of the hook eye.
The body of the fly is created using dark blue Sulky Holoshimmer. Those of you who have tied a Sexy Walt’s Worm should be familiar with the product line. It’s like extremely fine and tough Flashabou. Although you can use it straight off the spool, I’ve found an oversized bobbin works extremely well. They’re a bit hard to find anymore but certainly out there.
Start the Sulky on the hook shank as you would normal tying thread and take a few wraps rearward before snipping off the tag. Make sure to take a good number of wraps as this is pretty slippery stuff. Keep taking wraps until the Sulky is up and into the slot of the bead.
Small gold Ultra wire is used for ribbing, an 8-10” length will make multiple flies. Place one end of the wire into the slot of the bead on the far side of the hook and take wraps with the Sulky to secure it. Keep on wrapping rearward to the start of the bend, making sure the wire is pushed all the way to the far side or even underside of the hook shank. Give your bobbin a gentle counterclockwise spin to flatten out the Sulky and begin making wraps forward up the hook shank toward the bead. When you get there, once again, flatten out the material.
I believe what really makes this pattern work are the Montana Fly Company black, mini centipede legs used to create the tails of the fly and give it motion. Be sure to get the mini size, they’re fineness makes all the difference in the world. Snip a single strand free from the hank and fold it in half and cut it at its midpoint. This will give you enough material for two flies. Fold one of the segments in half to make roughly equal length legs and produce a small loop at the other end. Secure the loop end to the hook shank at the back edge of the bead and, while stretching the material rearward, take wraps with the Sulky to bind it to the top of the hook shank. Continue wrapping all the way back to the start of the hook bend. This should splay the tails so they form about a 45 degree angle. Return your tying thread to just behind the bead and then snip the little rubber loop off close.
Now we’re going to add a bit of taper to the body. Give your bobbin a counter clockwise spin to once again flatten the Sulky. Then take wraps about 1/3 of the way down the hook shank and back up to the bead. Next, go 2/3 of the way down the shank and then back up to the bead. Finally, go all the way down to the start of the hook bend, flattening the material when needed. To smooth out the body, flatten the Sulky and make touching wraps back up to the bead.
Get hold of the wire and start making open spiral wraps with it. You want it to first contact the underside of the hook shank so it doesn’t jostle the orientation of the tails. Keep making evenly spaced open spiral wraps with the wire over top of the body all the way to the back edge of the bead. There, use the Sulky to anchor it well. Brace the bead with the nozzle of your bobbin and helicopter the wire to break it off close. At this point, you can cut the tails to a full hook in length. Ideally, they should stick up a little bit and still splay outwards at around 45 degrees. Now, here’s the cool part. You can actually do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish using the Sulky. Just make sure to seat the knot well before snipping or cutting the material free.
You probably could fish the fly like this but adding a drop or two of UV cure resin will greatly enhance its durability, which is important for a bottom-dragger like this. Deposit an ample drop on the body of the fly and then using your bodkin, work it all the way around. Be sure to get material to the far side of the body, the underside and even into the slot of the bead. Finally, give the material a really good shot all the way around with a UV torch to cure it. It should dry hard, clear and tack-free to the touch.
As I said earlier, I think it’s the movement of the extremely fine rubber legs that makes all the difference with this pattern. You don’t have to limit the pattern to navy either. Sulky Holoshimmer comes in just about any color imaginable, way more than you see in this shot. The same holds true for the mini centipede legs. They even come in speckled colors to add some bugginess. You can also tie the Navy Diver in a range of hook sizes paired with the appropriately sized bead in a variety of colors. Throw in different colored wire ribbing and you end up with a ridiculous number of possible combinations based on the same theme. Maybe one of you math-letes out there can do some fancy cypherin’ and come up with the exact number of combinations, taking into account the materials shown here in the video. Be prepared to show your work.
I’m kind of obsessed with this fly of late and find myself tying one on whenever I’m nymphing deep. Give ‘em a try and let me know what you think.