The Nuke Egg or Nuclear Egg is an oldie but a goodie. It’s the first true steelhead pattern I ever tied and, if memory serves, that was in the early 80’s. Now, over 30 years later, they’re still easy and fun to tie, and work remarkably well.
For a hook, a Dai-Riki #135 in size 8 or 10 is an excellent choice. Begin by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For thread, I like white UTC 140 Denier. A heavy duty bobbin with a long tube will allow you to apply a lot of wrap pressure which is desirable for this pattern. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving an eye length space behind the eye and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
McFly Foam, here, basic orange is hard to beat for the egg of the fly. A clump about 3/8” in diameter works well for this size hook. With a half inch or so of the material extending past the hook eye, lay it on top of the hook shank and take two collecting wraps to anchor it in place. Then, pull the material in opposite directions to stretch it out and thin it down beneath the wraps. Doing this a few times really Take another wrap and then repeat the process. Doing this a few times really helps to compress the McFly Foam and push it around the hook shank which will create a more uniform egg. Once it’s locked into place, advance your thread forward leaving a small space behind the hook eye.
Get hold of a pair of really sharp, robust scissors, as opposed to your more delicate tying scissors. McFly Foam can dull even the best blades rather quickly. Pull both strands up to vertical using significant pressure and place your scissors approximately a half a hook gap up from the shank and give the material a quick, decisive snip. With some coaxing, you should be left with a nearly perfect, little sphere.
There are many different ways to apply a veil to a Nuke Egg. I like to use just a small amount of super sticky Loon High Tack Swax. Apply a light skim to a short segment of your tying thread, right up by the hook.
For the fly’s veil, there are several options but I’ve always liked Otter’s Soft Milking Egg because of its transparency, sheen and texture. Pull a small clump free from the package, it’s better to err on the side of not enough rather than too much. Fold the material around the waxed part of your tying thread to double it over. Then, with the wax holding it in place, start taking wraps around the hook shank. I’ve found this is the best way to create the most even veil all the way around the egg.
With the egg well encircled, take a few more wraps to hold it back and in place. Then, do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free. To trim the veil, pull it rearward and, using the back edge of the hook bend as a guide, snip the material off square. With a little teasing and trimming, you should end up with something that looks about like this. I know the veil looks somewhat heavy here and you probably could go lighter, but Otter’s really all but disappears when it’s wet, so keep that in mind when gauging amount.
Try tying Nuke Eggs with different colors of McFly Foam and in different sizes, in order to build your own nuclear arsenal.