The Breadcrust Nymph
The hardest part of tying the breadcrust nymph is preparing the materials. Tying the fly is very simple. The body is made from a stripped ruffed grouse tail feather in the red phase. Let’s prepare the feather first, then talk about the tying steps. Your best bet would be to prepare a batch of quills at once, as the process is rather time consuming, as you will see below.
PREPARING THE RUFFED GROUSE TAIL FEATHER
Clip the top inch and the butt end from the ruffed grouse tail feather. Then, with very sharp scissors, trim the barbs close to the quill, leaving about 1/16th inch of barb remaining on each side of the quill.
Soak the clipped quill in water for a while. And it may be a while, even 24 to 48 hours. The goal is to make the quill soft and supple. Once this is achieved, remove the quill from the water and cut it in half with a razor blade, separating the top half from the bottom half. One half will be white, discard this half. The other half will be a ruddy brown color and will have the butts of the trimmed barbs attached to it. Keep this half. You will notice a white, meaty material inside the split quill. This is the pith, and needs to be removed, but it is likely still too hard to be removed effectively yet. Place the quill half back in the water to soak again to soften the pith for removal. Again, let it soak a while, up to two days if necessary.
Remove the quill half from the water and attempt to remove the pith by gently scraping the quill with the edge of a blunt object such as a butter knife. If softened properly, the pith should scrape out fairly easily. If you are still having trouble and find you are breaking the quill during this process, return it to the water to soak for a bit longer.
Once the pith is effectively scraped from the quill, it is ready to use. Store your quills in water until you are ready to tie with them. This will keep them supple enough to tie effectively with. Now you can see why it would be advantageous to make a batch of quills at once, so that they are ready to go when you are ready to tie.
TYING THE BREADCRUST NYMPH
Now for the easy part:
Recipe: Hook: 2XL Nymph hook, size 10 to 18
Underbody: Black Yarn (or Dubbing – see below)
Body: Ruffed Grouse Tail Feather, Red Phase, Trimmed, cut in half with
Hackle: Grizzly Hen Neck Feather
Start the thread on the hook about 1/4th of the shank length behind the eye and create a base to the bend. Return the thread to the tie in point and attack a length of black yarn.
Wrap the yarn to the bend and back to create a tapered underbody. Tie the yarn off and wrap the thread in open turns to just past the bend of the hook. This will secure the yarn further. Tie in the prepared ruffed grouse quill at this point by the tip, and return the thread to the initial tie on point. (Alternatively, you could use black dubbing to create the underbody. Either is acceptable.)
Wrap the grouse quill in touching turns to create the body. The butts of the barbules will stick out from the body, creating the “crust” effect. Tie off the quill and trim the excess. Wrap the thread to the eye and back a few times to secure the quill and create a thread base on which to wrap the hackle.
Tie in a grizzly hen hackle by the butt end just in front of the body. The barbs of the hackle should be roughly equal to twice the gape of the hook. Wrap the hackle in touching turns to the eye, secure and trim the waste.
Sweep the grizzly hackle barbs back and secure them with thread such that they sweep back toward the bend of the hook. Create a thread head, whip finish, and cement. The Breadcrust is ready to go!