Underwire Support: The Secret to a Shapely Body by Russ Forney

Articles, Fly Patterns, Step-by-Step Tutorials — By on September 16, 2009 3:13 pm


Recipe for a weighted stonefly nymph:
Hook: Curved nymph hook, sizes 2-12
Thread: Danville 3/0 nylon monocord, black
Weight: Lead-free wire mounted parallel to the hook shank, wire size to match hook
Underbody: Dental tape wrapped over the wire bundle, colored with a black marker
Tail, legs, and antennae: Goose biots, black
Abdomen: Black plastic microtubing or ribbing material
Thorax: Course black dubbing
Wing case: Segments cut from a black turkey tail feather, top-coated with clear nail polish


1. Wrap a thread base and add 2 goose biots to form the tails, a small thread bump at the end of the shank splits the biots nicely. Flatten the end of a piece of wire and mount it securely to the far side of the hook shank; the wire extends from near the biot tails to a position 1-2 eye-lengths behind the hook eye.


2. You can now add a piece of wire to the near side of the hook. Tying pliers are used to flatten the end of the wire prior to mounting.


3. Once both pieces of wire are securely mounted, wrap the underbody with tying thread to form a cocoon around the wire. You can use your thumbnail to position the wire bundle evenly along each side of the shank. When you are satisfied with the positioning, add a drop of nail polish to hold the thread-wrapped bundle in place.


4. Tie a length of black plastic microtubing along the top of the underbody, followed by 8-10 inches of waxed dental tape.


5. Wrap the dental tape forward to form an underbody that tapers at the tail, use multiple layers of tape to add bulk to the abdomen. Waxed dental tape is pliable and adheres lightly to itself, it is an easy material to work with and can be repositioning to achieve the desired shape.


6. Once you have wrapped the underbody, anchor the dental tape and trim off the excess. Tying pliers can be used to crimp and press the dental tape wraps to refine the underbody shape. The underbody is then colored with a black permanent marker.


7. You can now wrap the plastic microtubing forward in touching turns to the midpoint of the body. Notice how the underbody defined the outward appearance of the abdomen and helped create realistic symmetry and shape.


8. Add a pair of biot legs and cover with several wraps of course dubbing; mount a wing case over the dubbing to make the first of three segments for the thorax. The wing case is cut from a black turkey tail feather previously coated with clear nail polish.


9. Add a second segment to the thorax with biot legs and a final segment without legs; taper the final segment toward the hook eye to finish the thorax. Add two more black biots for antennae, build a thread head, and finish with several whip knots. Notice how the hook eye is used to splay the antennae from the head, this extends the biots from the hook and keeps the eye accessible.


10. This silhouette shows how the tubing and dental tape added bulk along the top of the abdomen, complimenting the shape and structure of the nymph. Trout pay attention when this beauty dances along the streambed.

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Underwire Support: The Secret to a Shapely Body by Russ Forney, 6.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings


  1. Roberto says:

    Nice! I think it’s the best stone nymph I’ve seen.
    Was looking for a pettern like this. Thxs !

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  2. Russ says:

    The stonefly nymph also looks good tied with a clear vinyl rib over a floss body, adds color and depth to the pattern. Monofilament works just fine as a substitute for clear microtubing; see George Grant’s nymphs for the ultimate patterns using a clear overbody.

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  3. Tom Gibbons says:

    Hi Mr. Forney,
    As allways, your tying and improvisations on a theme are outstanding,particularly this nice stonefly. On the advise of another tyier in this site, I went to Michaels and purchased some ‘Stretch Magic”, the clear in a small size{this material is avalable in numbered sizes]. really good for that depth mentioned above. Thanks again for a wonderful tie.Tom.

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  4. scott fairbank says:

    Dear Russ, Great article!!! How about a video tutorial??????? thanks scott

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  5. Chris Patterson says:

    Amazing! Thanks for a great tutorial. I’m a novice tier and articles like this are really inspiring. I’ve picked up several new tricks from this one recipie :)

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