Making Quill and Flashback Back Nymphs
by Mike Hogue

This article appeared in the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association's newsletter
The Fly Line. Thanks to Dan Tubbs for the photos.


Fly tiers Mike Mercer and Skip Morris have developed some interesting innovations to nymphs with the addition of strips along the back of the nymphs. Both Mercer's poxyback series of flies and Morris's Skip's nymph use strips to create flies which have a more realistic look to them. In this article we'll take a look at a few tips to help your nymphs look better using these ideas.

Learning how to create the correct shape or set the right proportion will also improve your nymphs. If you look at natural may fly nymphs in the stream, the nymphs are flat rather than round. The thoraxes of nymphs typically are one half of the body length. Many is the time I've seen flies tied in which the bodies and thoraxes are so far out of proportion that don't represent anything close to the original natural insect. To keep your proportions correct, the thoraxes and the bodies of the nymph must be exactly equal in size on the finished fly.


You can use a variety of materials for the strips. Synthetic materials such as saltwater flash-a-bou or colored scud back are fairly easy to work with and durable. Pearl saltwater flash-a-bou is a favorite of mine since its wide size makes an easy correctly sized strip for any nymph from size 12 to 16. If you buy this material you may wish to split the pack with a friend since one strip will make about a dozen flies.

Natural materials such as pheasant tail fibers, goose quill or turkey quill can be more difficult to work with since the quill sections may not marry ( or join together) well or split. By using the tips of these materials instead of the butt sections, some these problems can be reduced. For dubbings I prefer to use natural furs such as Australian opossum, rabbit or squirrel for the bodies since they absorb water.

Tying The Flies:

To make all of these flies begin by tying in the tail. The length of the tail should equal to the length of the hook shank. Tie in the strip section. The strip should be about an 1/8 to 3/16" wide. Tie in your wire either gold, copper or silver. ( Hint: if you have a hard time working with wire, use a material or an old thread bobbin. Wire can score a bobbin and wreck it. ) Dub body. Some synthetics make the fly float too much. Pull the strip over the body and secure with even wraps of wire (usually 5-7 wraps). Next fold the strip back and make a couple of wraps . I do this step so that I can use the same strip for the wing case and the back. Dub the thorax. Pull the wing case over the the thorax and tie off.


Here's some favorites of mine. I've found the olive flashback to be one of the most productive nymphs I've ever used. Mike's hare ear is also a great fly. Most of the trout I caught on nymphs in the past year have been with these two flies.

Olive Flashback:
Hook: TMC 200T or equivalent Size 14
( sub Mustad 3906B if you wish)
Thread: Dark Olive 6/0 or Black
Strip: Pearl Salt Water Flash-a-bou
Rib: Fine Copper Wire
Tail: Olive Hackle Fibers
Wing Case:Pearl Salt Water Flash-a-bou
Body: Olive Australian Opossum


Mike's Hare's Ear:
Hook: Mustad 3906B Size 12-14
Thread: 6/0 Black
Strip: 10 Pheasant Tail Fibers
Rib: Fine Copper Wire
Tail: Small Bunch of Squirrel body hair
Body: Hare's Ear Mix
Wing Case: 10 Pheasant Tail Fibers

Flashback Scud:
Hook:TMC 2487 or equivalent size 14
Thread: 6/0 Black
Strip: :Pearl Salt Water Flash-a-bou
Rib: Fine Copper Wire
Tail: Small Bunch of Partridge Fibers
Body: Fox Squirrel or Orange or Olive Kaufman's Scud dubbing

Options: You can add beads if you wish or add lead wire wraps. I generally don't use lead wire so that I can fish the fly different depths. If I want a deep drifting nymph I'll add beads. By using split shot you can adjust the weight and how the fly will drift.



For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946