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"Burk’s Hexagenia"

This pattern is featured in Randall Kaufmann’s book entitled “Tying Nymphs”. In his introduction to the tying instructions for this pattern, Kaufmann states that “Hexagenia are the largest mayflies found in North America and attain a length of 1   inches….’Hex,’ as they are referred to, prefer slower stretches of streams, lakes, and ponds with silt bottoms, which they burrow into.” From personal experience on the Fall River, this hatch attracts the very largest of a river’s resident trout. I have also found them on my own ponds, and locally in Lake Natoma. The hatch occurs just before and through dark. However, the nymphs are active for several hours before dark, and fish will take them on or near the bottom, and up through the water column as night approaches. To fish the nymph, a sink tip line is best where the water is deep; where the water is shallow, a floating line may do the trick. The just-hatched duns are huge, and light yellowish to white in color. Even so, they are hard to see after dark, necessitating “fish by feel” tactics, with casts to suspected locations of splashes made by trout taking the adults on the surface. As of this writing, the hatch is occurring at Lake Natoma. Check the GBF web site’s bulletin board for details. There will also be a picture of this month’s featured pattern on the web site.


Hook Tiemco 200R or Daiichi 1260, sizes 4-8, weighted
Thread Primrose or pale yellow 6/0
Tail Gray marabou
Back Dark turkey quill
Gills Pheasant aftershaft (filoplume)


Medium copper wire
Abdomen  Pale yellow rabbit or substitute
Wing case Turkey tail
Weight (optional) lead or substitute
Thorax  Same as abdomen
Legs Mottled hen saddle


1.         Place hook in vise and smash barb. Wind 8-10 wraps of lead at thorax area, leaving plenty of room between lead and the hook eye. Flatten lead with a pair of smooth jaw pliers.

2.         Cover the hook shank and lead with thread; cover all with a good coat of Flexament.

3.         Tie in the marabou tail; it should be about 1/3 of the length of the shank. At the same point, tie in the a strip of turkey tail, the filoplume by its tip, and the copper wire. Reverse the filoplume and secure it. (Hint: try tying a knot in the marabou when it is still long and before tying it on the hook. This will cock the marabou off to one side, and cause the fly to “wiggle” when stripped.)

4.         Dub the abdomen. It should have a good taper and be relatively heavy. Leave the bobbin hanging at about the 1/3 point on the hook, behind the eye.

5.         Bring the filoplume forward over the top of the abdomen, keeping the stem centered on the top of the abdomen. Tie it off at the forward end of the abdomen. Now bring the turkey forward to form the back. Tie it off at the same spot.

6.         Wrap the wire rib, weaving it through the filoplume. Tie it off at the same spot.

7.         Tie on a section of turkey tail that is slightly wider than the back, with the end sticking up and pointing to the rear. This will be the wing case.

8.         Remove fluff from a hen saddle hackle, and sweep the fibers away from the tip. Tie the feather in by its tip at the same point as the turkey tail, and with the tip pointing toward the rear, with the shiny side up. Bend it backwards, so that the butt is now facing the rear.

9.         Dub a nice thorax back to the area where the turkey tail and hen were tied in. Bring the hen saddle forward, creating the legs. Keep the feather tight and flat. If you have done this correctly, the legs will be pointing to the rear of the fly at around a 45 degree angle rearward.

10.       Bring the wing  case over the thorax and legs, and tie it off. Form a nice head. Go fling this dog at some trout, and….

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Copyright 1998 by Granite Bay Flycasters unless otherwise noted.