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 "Red Fox Squirrel Nymph"

This pattern was created about 40 years ago by Dave Whitlock, one of the most respected and talented people in our sport. It was actually his first nymph pattern, and still remains his favorite. I favor fur-bodied nymphs; Dave does also. This pattern is the quintessential fur-bodied nymph. I’ve even used it to imitate the emerging October Caddis pupa. Tied in smaller sizes, it can imitate any light-colored mayfly nymph, caddis emerger, or even a little yellow stonefly nymph. You will need to locate some red fox squirrel fur—on or off the skin. The pattern that follows is an “improved” version (although some would debate that claim) tied by Randall Kaufmann.


Hook          Tiemco 5262 or 5263, sizes 14-6

Thread       Black 6/0

Tail             Hare’s mask guard hairs

Rib             Fine gold oval tinsel

Abdomen   Red fox squirrel body fur, blended with like color antron dubbing

Thorax       Red fox squirrel body fur, blended with charcoal and brown antron dubbing.

Legs          Mottled brown hen hackle, or grouse, tied full.


1.  Wind lead onto bare hook at thorax area (first 1/3 of the hook shank), and cover shank with thread, building a shoulder in front of and in back of the lead. Stay back from the eye a distance equal to at least 1/6 of the hook shank.

2.  Trim a small clump of fibers from the center of a hare’s mask and pull out the under fur. You should have a remaining clump of “hair” consisting of the guard hairs. If you’ve done this right, you will have a clump that is dark with light tips.

3.  Tie in the guard hairs as a tail just above the back of the barb (which you have by now smashed). The tail should be no longer than 1/3 of the shank length.

4.  Tie in the oval tinsel at the same point as you tied in the tail. Dub a nice, tapered body of the squirrel fur forward, forming an abdomen that occupies about 60% of the hook shank.

5.  Wrap the rib through the abdomen and tie it off at the forward end of the abdomen.

6.  Dub the thorax, which should be nearly twice the diameter of the abdomen. Leave a good-sized space between the thorax and the eye.

7.  Remove the fuzz from the base of the feather and sweep all of the fibers except for the very tip down toward the base. Tie the hackle in by the tip, with the concave (dull) side facing to the rear.

8.  Begin wrapping the feather around the hook, stroking all of the fibers rearward after each turn of the feather, with each successive wrap in front of the previous one. Four wraps, if possible, is best.

9.  Tie off the stem and form a nice head, sweeping back the hackle fibers if necessary. Here is where the benefit of staying back from the eye of the hook during prior tying operations will pay dividends.

Fish this gem as a pupa just exiting from its case, or as an emerger.  In smaller sizes, it can be fished as a mayfly nymph, or as a little yellow stonefly nymph.


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Copyright 1998 by Granite Bay Flycasters unless otherwise noted.