Variations on a Dark Hendrickson theme

Some subsurface bugs for next month. The four with the wood duck wing are classic Dark Hendrickson wets. Clockwise, we have pairs of tungsten beadheads on a scud hook with the traditional tail, hackle, and body; black bead with Delaware River Club Spectrumized Hendrickson dubbing and a brown partridge hackle; and black bead with the traditional muskrat body and brown partridge hackle. I’ll fish the winged wets as the middle dropper and the beadheads on point. I can almost feel the frantic tugging right now.


12 comments on “Variations on a Dark Hendrickson theme

  1. Paul says:

    Those look great. I’ve been looking for some additional ideas for Hendrickson weighted nymphs. Think I’m gonna tie some up tonight!

  2. Dick Sablitz says:

    Try using an undersized bead on these…..results can be amazing!!

    • Steve Culton says:

      I believe you. In this case, I’m using the bead as a weight element, so bigger it is. I’ve done pretty well with these in the past, especially the traditional Dark Hendrickson. But you’ve got me intrigued. 🙂

      • Dick Sablitz says:

        A common mistake that many Farmington and Willimantic River anglers make is to use a fly that is much to light in body color as compared to the natural Hendricksons found on those rivers…and are puzzled as to why a traditional Red Quill will work and a “light body” imitation won’t…..not rocket science…..Try dubbing a dark rusty brown/claret body as opposed to a “pink” body… make sure you’ve got a strong drag!

      • Steve Culton says:

        I’ve been using the dark muskrat fur for years now. The Spectrumized dubbing is new to me, so we’ll see how it plays. I did a bunch of spiders a few weeks ago that used rusty brown thread…we’ll see how those play as well.

      • Dick Sablitz says:

        I can leave some of my “super secret,” dark Hendrickson dubbing at UpCountry next week if you want to try it. It’s extremely “spikey”, and dubs well using wax….I dub it on both olive brown and pale yellow thread….. both seem to work fine for me and for some others that I’ve given some to.
        Let me know…you are welcome to try it….I’ve got two lifetimes supply that I blended back in my beer drinking days….amazing how much dubbing can be blended with a case of beer…

      • Steve Culton says:

        Great! Love to try it.

  3. Alex Argyros says:

    When you use the two fly rig you describe in your post, how do you fish it? Do you drop shot it, Euro-nymph it, swing it, etc.? I imagine that much depends on how the trout are feeding, but a general sense of your strategy during a Hendrickson hatch would be appreciated.

    • Steve Culton says:


      It’s not a two fly rig, it’s three — note my mention of a point fly and a middle dropper, so we need something on top for there to be a middle. 🙂

      For years I’ve been fishing a Squirrel and Ginger as the top dropper (there is often a strong caddis hatch around Hendrickson time, and this fly has me covered for that), a Dark Hendrickson in the middle, and another Dark Hendrickson or beadhead type like you see here on point. If the flows are high and deep, I may use the tungsten bead head fly. This year I might swap out the caddis for one of the Hendrickson spiders I tied a few weeks ago.

      This team will be cast to actively feeding fish, and mended as needed to sink the flies or slow the swing. I’ll also use it as a searching tool when there are no visible risers. You can read more about wet fly fishing techniques in my articles on this site.

      I don’t Euro nymph.

  4. Mina says:

    I’ve been using the DRC dubbing for several years now, it looks fantastic when wet. All those colors come to just the desired color. Those look great, Steve!

  5. […] going to try some new things this year. Here’s a post from years past where I riffed on the Dark Hendrickson theme. I’m curious about soft hackles this year, particularly glass beads vs brass beads. More on […]

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