Fly tiers invariably pose that question when first introduced to emerger patterns; scruffy bodies, curved hooks, and jumbled appendages are bewildering to the uninitiated. The apprehension is understandable; emergence is a dynamic process in the life cycle stage of aquatic insects and requires equally dynamic imitations to fool wary trout. Emergers are neither nymphs nor duns, rather they are a transient state between the two stages. Capturing transient states on a fish hook is a formidable challenge.
My search for a satisfying explanation to the “why” of emerger fly design became an adventure. Entomology textbooks, fly tying books, scientific literature, interviews, field work, an aquarium, and thousands of flies later, I still have plenty of questions about emergers and fly design. However, a few themes became clear and now exert their influence on my tying, fishing, and teaching. These principles are not novel, but have renewed application in the world of emerging insects.
This article and 12 others can be found in the 2009 issue of Hatches Click Here For More Info