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"Bill's Callibaetis Emerger"

I came up with this pattern when preparing to fish a private lake on the Bidwell Ranch near Burney. Its colors vary a bit from the standard Callibaetis colors. But it was most successful as tied, despite some guffaws and a few snide remarks from my companions. The fish loved it, and my initial supply quickly disappeared due to the need to use fine tippet and the rather savage strikes from the “Lost Creek Rainbows” that inhabit the lake. Since then it has been a winner for me and my guide clients when a hatch is in progress. It seems to imitate a cripple dun or an emerger. I sometimes vary the color scheme, but the basics of the fly remain the same. Once you have mastered the techniques required to tie the fly, use your creativity to change colors and combinations, along with size. In any event, be sure to have a couple of these bugs in your arsenal when fishing on water that produces mayfly hatches. Incidentally, I have used it during a Caddis hatch—it worked there too.


Hook               Standard dry fly hook such as Tiemco 100BL, sizes 14-20

Thread             Yellow flat waxed fine

Tail (shuck)      Tan antron or sparkle yarn

Rib                   Fine copper wire

Body                Pheasant tail

Underwing       Clear antron fibers

Overwing         Dun CDC

Thorax             Pale yellow rabbit dubbing

Head               Yellow thread



  1. Cover back of hook shank with thread, ending at a point just above where the back of the barb would be (this hook is barbless; if you have the standard barbed version of the Tiemco 100, or another brand, the barb should be smashed now). This will be the tail tie-in point.

  2. From a strand of tan antron or sparkle yarn, tease out a small bit (around 10-15 fibers) and tie it on at the tail tie-in point. Continue tying it down forward along the shank to about the 1/3 point behind the eye. The purpose for doing this is to form an even base for the body. Now trim the tail to a length not longer than the shank. Try to trim it so that not all of the fibers are the same length. Return the thread to the tail tie-in point.

  3. Tie in the ribbing wire at the tail tie-in point.

  4. Separate three nice, long pheasant tail fibers from the quill, trimming them close to the quill. Trim the tips slightly, and tie them in by the tips at the tail tie-in point. Advance the thread to forward 1/3 point (behind the eye).

  5. Wrap the three fibers forward in close wraps, forming a tight body, ending at the forward 1/3 point. Tie them off there.

  6. Wrap the wire forward, spacing the wraps evenly. Only three or four wraps are needed; any more will add too much weight. Tie it off at the same point. Now cover the rest of the shank with thread, to form a base for the wing.

  7. Cut a small bunch of clear antron fibers from a strand of the yarn, and tie it on at the forward 1/3 point. Don’t go farther forward than this point. Once it is tied on securely, trim the butts at an angle close to horizontal, to avoid forming a lump that would make completing the fly hard. Trim the wing to a length equal to the shank.

  8. Even up the tips of two or three CDC feathers. Pinch the feathers between your thumb and forefinger, and measure them to the same length as the antron underwing. Tie them in as a bunch at the same point as the antron underwing was tied in. Once they are secured in place, trim the butts closely and tie them down. If tied correctly, the wing should lie directly atop the antron underwing, and should be the same length.

  9. Dub a thorax of creamy yellow rabbit.

  10. Form a nice, small head, whip finish, and you're done! 


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Copyright 1998 by Granite Bay Flycasters unless otherwise noted.