Leisenring’s Pale Watery Nymph

Big Jim loved his Pale Watery nymphs. We know this because he’s got two of them listed in his book. This is the first Pale Watery nymph, and it’s a simple, buggy tie. I’m picturing it as the point fly on a team of three; dropped off the bend of a Usual or Light Cahill dry; or below a dry with the dry on a tag. Speaking of Pale Watery, keen students of Leisenring’s fly patterns will remember the Pale Watery Dun Wingless — one of his “favorite twelve” — from last year’s series here on currentseams.

Leisenring’s Pale Watery Nymph

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Hook: 15, 16
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: One or not more than two turns of a darkish-blue cockerel hackle only long enough to suggest wing cases.
Tail: None.
Rib: Fine gold wire halfway up the body.
Body: Cream colored fur (Chinese mole or Australian opossum) dubbed very thinly at the tail and heavily at the shoulder and thorax.
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Tying notes: No gots cockerel, so I used a dark dun hen cape. For body fur, I chose Hareline Dubbin Light Cahill (HD1). It is here that find myself faced with a disturbing question. Leisenring specifies that the rib should go “halfway up the body.” Does this mean his other nymphs were meant to have a rib that continued over the thorax? It’s quite possible. I’m not a fan of ribbing over a heavily dubbed thorax — it kind of defeats the purpose of that buggy section — but Leisenring may have intended otherwise.

A good read on stripers and currentseams current events

Happy Sunday. Hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather. I am not, as I am STILL under the weather. I’ve got the cold that my doctor tells me is “lasting for up to month.” I’m now on week 3. Happy-happy-fun-joy, and I haven’t been fishing since early January. Bleah.

Capt. Hank Hewitt of Block Island Fishworks says, “Steve’s cold sucks THIS much!”

hankh

So, here’s a good, short read from our good friends at the American Saltwater Guides Association. This group continues to fight the good fight, and is being relentless even in the face of disappointing news. Please consider showing your support for their efforts with a donation. You can effort that on their website.

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Many of you noticed my recent post on Stewart’s Black Spider. I’m hoping to cover his Red and Dun spiders next. Then, some more of Leisenring’s flies. Last winter I did a highly popular series of posts on Leisenring’s Favorite Dozen wet flies. Now I want to take a closer look at patterns he describes as nymphs.

Baron von Black Gnatgenstein.

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Speaking of wet flies, stay tuned this week for special offer/event on a wet fly tying and fishing class I’ll be leading in March! In the meantime, I hope somebody’s fishing…

Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wet Flies in list form and photos

Last winter I posted a very popular series, James Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve wet flies, from his book The Art of Tying the Wet Fly. What was missing was a single reference list of the dozen. Let’s remedy that. So now you have the list, a photo of each pattern, and a link to the original post with my comments. For those anglers enjoying the Christmas holiday spirit, this certainly beats the snot out of twelve drummers drumming.

Leisenring’s Favorite Dozen. “As every fisherman has his favorite patterns, here are mine…” — James Leisenring

Brown or Red Hackle

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Gray Hackle

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Old Blue Dun

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Blue Dun Hackle

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Coachman

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Black Gnat

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Hare’s Ear

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Iron Blue Wingless

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Light Snipe and Yellow

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Pale Watery Dun Wingless

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Tup’s Nymph

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Iron Blue Nymph

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700 Followers Contest Swag

Congratulations to Ron, Toby, and Michael, our three winners in the Currentseams.com 700 followers contest! Each will be receiving a selection of a dozen wet flies, including classic North Country spiders, Leisenring’s favorites, traditional American wet patterns, and a couple Culton originals. Some of the flies are the actual ones featured in the photos for this winter’s wet fly series.

I had hoped to get these out today, but it will have to wait for the weekend or Monday. I’ll let the winners know when I ship.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone for reading and following currentseams. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this. Tight lines to all, and on to 800!

Gentlemen, start your drooling. From left to right, Ron’s, Toby’s, and Michael’s dozen. Get these wet and do us proud, gentlemen — and of course, we want to see photos.

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Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Iron Blue Nymph

What a deep, dark, buggy design. No wonder Leisenring loved this fly. Although only two medium hook sizes are specified, I can see this translating to a 2x short scud hook in a 16 or 18, and strategically placed as the top dropper in your nymph rig. Not what the creator had in mind, but surely the trout would support the decision. The real beauty of this bug may be in that it does not look like anything in particular, but a lot of things in general. Bravo, Big Jim!

This concludes the series of James Leisenring’s favorite twelve wet fly patterns. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more good wet fly stuff on currentseams.

Iron Blue Nymph

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Hook: 14-15
Silk: Crimson or claret
Hackle: Two turns of a very short cock jackdaw throat hackle
Tail: Two or three soft white fibers tied very short
Body: Dark mole fur spun on crimson or claret tying silk with two or three turns of the silk exposed at tail.
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Tying Notes: As with the Tup’s Nymph, I would suggest a 2x strong hook. I only had jackdaw wings, so I used a short covert for the hackle; you can also substitute California quail throat for the jackdaw, or use a dark charcoal grey hen hackle. White hen for tail. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Tup’s Nymph

Here we have Leisenring’s take on the English classic Tups Indispensable. (Bonus points if you know the meaning of “Tups,” and its relevance to the pattern. Hint: it has to do with sheep mating. Really.) The original across-the-pond pattern was intended as an olive spinner imitation. But when I see this fly, I think Yellow Sallies, Suplhurs, and Light Cahills. Or we could just go with “Pale Wateries” and be done with it. Once again, best to leave it to the trout to decide what it is. Leisenring specified a heavy wire hook to help sink the fly: “I have no use for a weighted nymph because they do not swim naturally.” (Take that, future Euro-nymphers!) The Tup’s Nymph was another high confidence pattern for Big Jim, as evidenced by this statement: “This is the best all-around nymph I have found.” Try it on point on your three-fly team, or as the top dropper on your nymph rig.

Tup’s Nymph

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Hook: 13-14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Very small light-blue hen hackle or medium-dark honey dun hen hackle
Body: Halved: rear half of primrose-yellow buttonhole twist; thorax or shoulder of yellow and claret seal fur mixed dubbing spun on primrose-yellow silk.
Tail: Two honey dun hackle points (Leisenring omits the tail in his listing of twelve favorites; the photo in the book shows a tail. Do as you please.)
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Tying Notes: I would suggest a 2x strong hook. The dark honey dun hackle might be more suggestive of an olive. We’re back to the DMC embroidery floss (#744) as our buttonhole twist substitute. Although Leisenring says the body is halved, his step-by-step illustrations in the book (and the pattern photo) show more of a 2/3 abdomen to 1/3 thorax ratio. Substitute Angora goat for seal fur. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Pale Watery Dun Wingless

We see the North Country influence again in Leisenring’s Pale Watery Dun Wingless. Leisenring chose the noun dun wisely, as this is clearly more adult than emerger — heck, you could even go spinner. It’s a far different pattern than the Pale Watery Wingless (AKA The Magic Fly) I tie; my version is more Usual than Poult Bloa, and I use it almost exclusively for the emerger stage. For Farmington River anglers, the Pale Watery Dun Wingless has Light Cahills written all over it, and I know of a certain pod of trout on a certain stretch of river that will be driven absolutely out of their minds by this fly on an early June evening.

Pale Watery Dun Wingless

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Pale honey dun
Tail: Two or three pale honey dun cock fibers
Body: Natural raffia grass, lacquer optional
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Tying Notes: A light ginger hen neck makes a lovely pale honey dun. Use it for the hackle and the tailing material. I went all in on authenticity and bought a bundle of raffia grass online; you’ll need to strip or cut a strand so it’s about 1/16th of an inch wide. Treat it like tinsel: attach behind the hackle, wind to the tail, then back, making a nice segmented body. I can’t imagine this fly would last without some kind of lacquer, so I used Sally Hansen’s HAN. If you don’t want to bother with raffia grass, the fish will not object to straw colored silk or thread or even Swiss straw. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.