FLY OF THE MONTH- February – 2020


Bob Wyatt’s Deer Hair Emerger

This is a great fly, and is relatively easy to tie. But first, two acknowledgements. Bob Wyatt has been a very significant contributor to fly fishing literature in recent years. He has written countless articles in fly fishing magazines, has authored a superb book (What Trout Want – the Educated Trout and other myths), and produced a two- volume set of DVDs entitled Flies That Catch Fish”. And I've undoubtedly omitted other contributions he has made. His Deer Hair Emerger is demonstrated in Volume One of his DVD set. Thank you Bob for this great fly.

My other acknowledgement? For years Gordon Brooks wrote the fly tying notes in the South Australian Fly Fishing Association’s monthly newsletter. His notes were superb, and I frequently printed off his monthly contributions and stored them in my collection of fly tying articles. His notes on this fly, the Deer Hair Emerger, were written in 2014 and I had no difficulty in hunting them out when I was looking for a good fly for this month’s issue. My description of the tying procedure that follows is largely taken from Gordon’s description. Thank you Gordon.

In his book What Trout Want Bob writes about this fly (the ‘DHE’) at some length. "It was originally designed for fishing as a static mayfly emerger on Scottish lochs. It quickly became my go to emerger. In appropriate sizes it works extremely well during the emergent period of any hatch, anywhere, and maybe has an edge on some of the more complicated emerger patterns.

If you have trouble getting it to float properly, this issue can be fixed by a couple of basic fly tying points and a tactical use of floatant. Getting the DHE right is just about proportions. If the wing is too long, for instance, it can overbalanced the keel effect of the sunken abdomen. This fly isn't meant to float like a conventional dry fly, but with the abdomen and even the thorax completely submerged. Getting floatant on the abdomen will definitely capsize it so that it floats on its side on the surface rather than in it.”

Materials for Bob’s Deer Hair Emerger:

Hook:  Curved emerger, sizes 10 – 20 (e.g. Kamasan B100 Grub Hook).

Thread: Brown 6/0.

Rib: Tag of the tying thread.

Abdomen: Hare’s ear dubbing.

Thorax: Spikey fur from the centre of a hare’s mask, darker than the abdomen.

Tying Procedure:

  1. Leaving a thread tag of about 12 cm, start the thread behind the eye and wind firm touching turns around the shank to a point well around the bend, as shown in the photo. Then take two or three turns to return the thread to a point about a quarter of the distance along the shank from the eye – this being the point where the wing will be tied in. (The thread tag should now be hanging down past the hook point. This tag will be used later to add a rib to the fly.)
  2. Select a small to medium bunch of hair from a deer hair patch. Ideally the tips of the fibres should be short tapered rather than long and fine. Remove the short fibres and any fluff and underfur, then even up the tips in a stacker.
  3. Tie the wing on so that the tips extend forward over the eye of the hook and the height of the wing will be equal to the length of the hook shank. Make the first wrap of thread with moderate tension so that the fibres don't flare too much. Then make succeeding turns back towards the bend of the hook and tighter to lock the wing in position. Five or six turns should be sufficient to hold everything in place. You can also at this point tie a couple of turns of thread around the base of the wing to tidy it up if the deer hair fibres have spread out a bit too much.
  4. Trim the waste from the wing at an angle and then bind down the stubs with the thread. Continue wrapping the tying thread along the shank to the point where you will start the abdomen.
  5. Apply a thin layer of dubbing to the tying thread and wind a slender abdomen to the rear of the wing. Then take the tying thread around in front of the wing.
  6. Pick up the thread tag at the end of the abdomen and wind it as a rib in the reverse direction to your dubbing turns up the abdomen. Tie the rib off in front of the wing and trim off the excess.
  7. Now lay a darker layer of spiky dubbing to the thread and starting behind the eye wind the thorax back against the base of the wing to hold the wing vertically. Then make two turns through the thorax before finishing with a whip finish behind the eye.