Fly Patterns - Chopaka Emerger

                 Chopaka Emerger



Picture by Michelle MahoodFor those of us who enjoy stillwater fishing, Callibaetis mayflies are extremely important. These little critters hatch throughout the seasons, and are readily available to hungry trout. They have a typical mayfly lifecycle: egg, larva (nymph), and adult. As is the case with all mayflies, the adult stage consists of two phases, with the first being the dun (aka “sub-imago”), with its opaque speckled wings and brownish body. The second and final phase is the spinner (aka “imago”), a transparent wraith-like form whose sole purpose is to mate, deposit eggs on the water (in the case of the female), and then die.


The nymph is a good swimmer, using short, quick bursts of speed to propel itself around. When the nymph is ready to hatch, a gaseous bubble forms beneath the wing case causing the nymph to rise toward the surface. Once this begins to occur, the nymph will tend to resist the inevitable, and will swim back down to the vegetation on the bottom. This foolish act results in the demise of many a nymph, as gluttonous trout gobble them down. This, of course, presents an opportunity to anglers aware of this behavior to vary the retrieve when fishing with nymph imitations. Those nymphs that do reach the surface must then emerge from their nymphal shell. We call this brief phase the “emerger.” Opportunistic trout pluck hapless emergers from the surface film—once again giving knowledgeable anglers an opportunity to fool hungry trout by using emerger imitations.


Some of the emergers never quite make it out of the shuck and die trying. These we call “cripples” or “stillborns.” The lesson here is simple: even though fully formed duns may adorn the surface, trout will go for the easy take and ignore them in favor of the hapless emergers. Accordingly, I tend to stick with emergers until it becomes clear to me that the fish have switched to the duns. The spinners, upon completion of their mating and egg-laying activity, will fall to the water to die. For a short time their wings will remain upright; as death approaches, their wings drop prostrate to the surface. Trout will sometimes feed on spent spinners, especially when there is a lull between the spinner fall and the next hatch. So, it pays to have imitations that imitate all of the life stages of the Callibaetis: nymph, emerger, and adult (including the dun and the spinner phases). This fly is named after a lake in Washington where, apparently, fly anglers concentrate on Callibaetis hatches.


Tying Instructions  (For best viewing: (1) Maximize your Browser Window. (2) Type "Ctrl + or -" to enlarge or contract the webpage display. (3) Use the Horizontal and Vertical Scroll Bars to scroll right and up/down to display larger photos in your browser)

1. Cover rear half of shank with thread. Tie in a sparse clump of antron or sparkle yarn just above the back of the barb (or where that would otherwise be in the case of a barbless hook). The length should be approximately the length of the shank of the hook.




2. Dub a sparse abdomen of the antron or sparkle yarn. Use just enough dubbing to make the thread “fuzzy.”




3. At the halfway point on the hook, tie in a small clump of deer hair with the tips pointing to the rear.

Trim the butts closely, add a drop of superglue to the tie-in point, and cover the butts with thread. This will become the wing case.




4. Dub in front of the deer hair to form a thorax. The thorax should be a bit heftier than the abdomen.




5. Moisten the tips of the hair (it makes them easier to handle) and pull them up and over the thorax, making sure that the hair stays directly on top of the hook. Tie the tips down in front of the thorax, leaving sufficient room behind the eye to form a nice thread head.


6. Whip finish behind the eye and in front of the wing. This will make the tips of the hair stick out over the eye, while remaining in a semi-upright position. Apply a small drop of super glue to the thread wraps, making sure to keep the hook eye clear of hair and glue.




Tying Tips

1. If you do get glue in the hook eye, take a small feather and run it through the eye; this will absorb the errant glue and keep the eye clean.


2. When fishing this pattern, apply floatant to the entire fly—not just the body and wing. The reason for doing this is to keep the fly lying horizontal in the surface film. Other emerger patterns require avoiding use of floatant on the tail, to allow it to hang down beneath the surface (e.g., the Klinkhammer Special)—but not this Callibaetis emerger.


3. When fishing the fly, use a floating or intermediate line with a long leader tapered to a fine tippet. Allow the fly to sink, and then begin a short, jerky retrieve; this represents the swimming nymph. If you suspect that the nymphs are in that “resistance” mode mentioned above, then give the line a few strips and pause for a few seconds to let the fly sink back down.




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