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Bird's Stonefly

Some years ago, we were fortunate enough to have Cal Bird visit with our club and provide a demonstration on his methods of tying. One of his better known patterns is the Bird’s Stonefly.

I have used this pattern on streams having a “Salmon Fly” hatch—those big, clumsy bugs which crawl over our faces and arms during a hatch, and which drive fish wild. If you’ve watched the way this bug flies, you will have noted that its wings flutter even after it hits the water. This trait is important in imitating the natural in a “suggestive” way.

Cal Bird’s pattern, with its hackle and wing construction, does just that. It is cleverly constructed so that light patterns provide the impression of movement. It is my belief that Randall Kaufmann’s “Stimulator” patterns were clearly based on the Bird’s Stonefly.


Hook:  Tiemco 5212; Mustad 94831, # 4-8
Thread:  Orange pre-waxed 6/0
Tail:  Dark moose mane, two strands
Rib:  Furnace saddle hackle, trimmed
Body:  Orange floss
Wing:  Natural brown buck tail
Hackle:  Furnace saddle hackle, trimmed top and bottom
Antennae:  Dark moose mane, two strands


1. After smashing barb and covering rear of hook with thread, place two strands of moose mane on top of hook and bind down just above rear of barb. Length is 2/3 shank length.

2. Separate the two strands with a figure-8 wrap or two, so that they stick out at a 45 degree angle to the rear.

3. Tie on floss at tail tie-in point and move the floss out of the way.

4. Tie on a furnace saddle hackle just in front of the floss. Move thread up to front of hook.

5. Grab floss with hackle pliers and form a nice smooth body, covering hook to a point approximately 1/4" behind eye. Tie off.

6. Take furnace hackle and rib it forward to same point, and tie off. Trim hackle so it sticks out from body about 1/8".

7. Stack a nice bunch of natural brown buck tail, and tie it in where body ends. Keep the hair directly on top of the hook. It should extend about 1/3 of shank length past bend of hook. Trim butts of hair at an angle to eliminate an abrupt edge. Wing should be full and bushy.

8. At this point, there should be enough room in front of the wing to allow for the hackle. Tie in hackle on top of where butts of buck tail were tied down. Wrap hackle, leaving sufficient room for a nice tapered head.

9. Take two strands of moose mane and tie in, tips out over the eye of the hook, one on each side. The length should be about 1/2 of shank length.

10. Form a nice, smooth tapered head, whip finish, apply head cement to head and wing base.

Fish this puppy high and dry, especially against the bank, drifting it through likely fish-holding spots, or casting it to risers.

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Copyright 1998 by Granite Bay Flycasters unless otherwise noted.