Brown Drake Spinner

The premier insect event on the North Branch of the Ausable is Brown Drake emergence and (3 days later) spinner fall. This year I have arrived at a satisfactory spinner pattern.

Hook: 2X long #12 or #10 (Mustad 94831 or Daiichi 1280)
Thread: 6/0 olive or tan
Tail: moose body
Abdomen: deer hair (short, coarse)
Wings: saddle hackle

The tails and body are like Roberts Drake. I use moose for the tail because pheasant tail barbs stick together and always look like one fiber.
Deer hair is hollow so this fly floats without a lot of fussing with floatant. Dubbed bodies always get waterlogged.

The wings are a “widespread fiber spinner wing” from a book by Vince Marinaro. For these, you wrap a saddle hackle (less the fuzzy lower part) around the hook, then force the fibers to the desired position with figure 8 thread wraps.

Marinaro made a “slant tank” to observe the appearance of real flies and of imitations from below the surface. He concluded that this was the most realistic wing.

Ephemera simulans is a burrower that lives as a nymph in the silty margins of the stream. Why we have it but not Hexagenia limbata, I cannot explain.

Update 6 June 2014 : I am reading Hatch Guide for Upper Midwest Streams by Ann R. Miller. In her discussion of the Brown Drake Nymph, she says “Search out their habitat of sandy-gravel stream bottom – not silt!“. So that is the reason we have Brown Drakes but no Hex – the North Branch does not have enough silt.

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4 Responses to Brown Drake Spinner

  1. Richard Bahl says:

    Nice pattern Dave. I like the body idea of using deer hair. I’m going to have to try this for some of the stone fly imitations out here in the west. I might try it for the large October Caddis as well.

    • dave49 says:

      The deer hair body is a particular favorite in this area, but do you really want your stonefly imitation to float?
      Note stonefly shuck on rock in next post, on Bougle.

  2. Richard Bahl says:

    We do use floating imitations for the skwala stone, the yellow sallys and some others. Most guys just use a foam body and hair down wing. Foam is not my favorite material. One of my favorite memories is of a redwing black bird flying across the Yakima and nailing a stone fly flying under some trees.

    • dave49 says:

      You are right, a stonefly adult should be a dry fly. I had just been out this morning and seen the shucks from larvae, and had those on my mind.

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