Sunday, February 15, 2015

Euro nymphing IV. Some favorite dropper flies

Downy Woodpeaker at the feeder
It's another snowy windy day here in New England.  I think it's going to be a while before the streams are clear enough to fish this winter.  The birds are enjoying the feeder despite the winds.

In this final post on European nymphing I will show you some of my favorite flies to fish as a dropper above the anchor fly.  I usually tie a triple surgeons knot in the tippet and hang the dropper off the tag end with the anchor about 18" below it.  With the dropper you can use a wide variety of flies from weighted nymphs to wet flies.  I usually try to "match" the hatch and will often use a soft hackle fly as the dropper.  Sometimes the anchor and the dropper will be flies from two different centuries!

Most often I will fish a soft hackle version of a bead head pheasant tail.  My Scottish friends refer to it as an Endrick's spider with a tungsten bead for some weight.  You really can't go wrong with fishing this fly as a dropper and I will fish it from early in the season through the sulfur hatch (hint, hint).  I will also fish a black version of this fly when the early stoneflies are making an appearance.  I will use a black gunmetal bead, black pheasant tail, some peacock ice dub for the thorax and dark India hen back for the hackle.  I find the best size is about a size 16 for both the natural and black versions.

Bead head phesant tail soft hackle (Endrick's spider)
TMC 3761 hook (#16)
Copper tungsten bead
UTC 70DN brown thread
4 pheasant tail fibers (tail and body)
small copper wire (rib)
peacock herl (thorax)
Partridge hackle

Another great fly when the sulfur hatch is on is a brown version of Rich Strolis' super simple.

Super Simple (brown)
TMC 3761 or European hook ( #16-#18)
UTC 140DN Fire orange thread
Coq de Leon fibers (tail)
Brown Squirrel SLF
small copper wire rib

By late summer/early fall and smaller flies are coming into the picture I usually fish a smaller dropper. Rich Strolis' DDT in brown and olive is another favorite when the small olives are predominating.  Over on the right is a link to a video of Rich tying this fly.  This fly will take a lot of fish in late summer and fall.

Strolis DDT
TMC 2487 hook (#18; #20)
fire orange UTC 70 DN thread
copper tungsten bead
brown/olive Zelon fibers (tail)
tan or olive superfine dubbing
Zelon fibers with one piece of midge krystal flash pulled over (wing case)
Zelon and midge flash split and splayed (wings)

These are some of my favorite droppers for the Euro rig but as I mentioned you can use any number of weighted nymphs or wet flies as the dropper.  So go ahead and experiment and have some fun out there!


  1. Good looking flies.I'll have to try those.

    1. RML - thanks, the pheasant tail is a winner most of the season

  2. Mark
    You have me fired up about this coming season and using the Euro technique. I am really impressed with all the dropper flies, but I think my favorite is the Pheasant Tail soft hackle, awesome looking pattern. Thanks for sharing

    1. Bill - hope you have some success with it. If I had only one dropper in my box it would be the pheasant tail!

  3. I am very well aquainted with all of the above nymphs!!!

  4. Indeed, a great all-around dropper and, if we're lucky, maybe we Northeasterners will be able to use it here in...uh...a couple of weeks or so??Thanks for the series, Mark.

  5. Thanks Walt. Maybe march??? Let's hope so