The Olive Flymph

As the flymph is a classification of fly versus a specific pattern, the steps below illustrate how to tie this type of fly. The flymph is designed to imitate the emerging adult, somewhere between the nymph and the adult stage, as it is rising to the surface. Insects in such a stage are vulnerable and more apt to be taken by trout. Note that the dubbing and hackle can be varied in color and consistency to produce specific results to better match the insects of the water you are fishing. Ribbing and tags can be added as well, but not a wing case. Part of Jim’s philosophy is that the flymph is tied “in the round,” that is to say, without any features that would identify a top or bottom to the fly. As such, his flies could drift in the water current without appearing to be in an unnatural, or upside down, position, which Jim believed might spook wary fish since naturals rarely drift upside down. For instructional purposes, I have chosen to tie an olive flymph, which would represent an emerging blue winged olive.



Hook: Standard Wet Fly, 1x or 2x, size 12 to 20

Thread: Olive

Tail: Dun Hen Hackle Fibers

Body: Olive Dubbing, tied as described in a dubbing loop

Hackle: Dun Hen Hackle Feather


Step 1

Start the thread on the hook and create a small thread base just behind the eye. Strip the fluff from the butt end of a hen neck hackle and tie this in on top of the hook with the feather facing forward, over the eye of the hook.


Step 2

Wind the thread in touching turns to the bend of the hook and tie in a tail of soft hackle barbs. The tail should be short, approximately the length of the shank of the hook. Then tie in one of the previously made dubbing loops (see sidebar), also at the bend of the hook. Return the thread to just behind the eye.


Step 3

Wrap the dubbing loop up the shank to create the body and thorax of the fly. Your initial wraps can be more widely spaced to yield a sparsely dubbed body which allows the color of the tying thread to show through, creating a more realistic two-toned appearance to the body of the fly. Wraps can be applied closer together in the thorax area to yield a more natural profile. Tie the dubbing loop off just behind the eye and trim the excess. Now wrap your thread back through the dubbing to near the midpoint of the shank. Do this in one very open turn of thread if possible so as not to compress the dubbing in the thorax region too much.


Step 4

Grasp the hen neck feather by the tip (use hackle pliers if needed) and make three to five wraps of hackle from the eye back to the midpoint of the shank where you left your thread hanging. Your first two turns of hackle should be very close together, almost touching, with subsequent wraps being spaced progressively further apart to create the correct density of hackle. Tie the tip of the hackle off with one or two wraps of thread, trim the excess, and then work the thread in a few open turns back through the hackle fibers to the eye of the hook. Wiggling your thread back and forth as you make these wraps will minimize the number of barbs you trap during this process. Create a small thread head in front of the hackle and tie off with a whip finish. Apply a drop of head cement and your flymph is ready to fish!



Jim Leisenring introduced the dubbing loop technique. At least, I did not find any references pre-dating Lesenring’s use of it during my research. The technique has evolved, and the dubbing loop used today is not quite the same as that introduced by Leisenring. He created his loop off the hook by applying a generous coat of dubbing wax to a piece of silk (or tying thread) and resting the silk on the top of his thigh such that one half of the silk was on his thigh and the other half was hanging down over the front of his knee. He then covered the silk on his thigh with small wisps of dubbing. Leisenring applied his dubbing sparingly as he felt it was desirable for some of the thread to show through the body of the fly to create a two-toned, more realistic effect. He secured the length of silk on his thigh at one end with his thumb and at the other end with one finger. He then took the end of the thread hanging off the front of his knee with his opposite hand and folded it back on itself, slipping it beneath his thumb and finger without losing tension, effectively trapping the dubbing between the two halves of thread. By grabbing the ends and spinning them in opposite directions, he created a rope of dubbing, the original dubbing loop. Leisenring stored these dubbing loops for future use on celluloid automotive curtain cards with notches cut in each end to hold the loops securely. A 3 x 3 inch piece of mat board with notches cut in each end works just as well for the contemporary tier.