The early black stonefly nymph is a classic fly fishing nymph pattern that imitates the black stonefly. The little black stonefly nymph grows quite quickly, and as they grow, they develop long tails at the end of their abdomen and segmented wing pads on their back.
It’s important to remember that the little black stonefly nymph can’t swim and spends its life span clung to rocks and feeding on the river bottom. This is an important point to note when you are fly fishing this black stone nymph pattern.
The dead drift with minimal movement is key. The little black stonefly nymph has been adapted over the years, and many different materials are used for these patterns in fly tying these days.
Whether you use pheasant tail fibers, goose biot, dark hare’s ear dubbing these natural-looking stonefly nymph patterns work extremely well. Trout cannot leave them alone especially in early spring.
Black Stonefly Nymph Step-by-Step
- Place hook in vise.
- Add your lead wire wraps.
- Start a thread base, seuring the lead wire in place.
- Tying backwards, secure the black rubber tail pieces.
- Tie in your goose biot and wrap forward.
- Stop 2/3rds up the shank.
- Tie in the pheasant to form the wing case at a later stage.
- Wrap forward securing the rubber antennae.
- Dub the thread and wrap forward.
- Pull over the wingcase and secure with a few tight wraps.
- Apply head cement.
- Cut thread, tail and antennea.
Black Stonefly Nymph Materials
Hook: Mouche #2-14 8426, heavy nymph hook.
Thread: Semperfli 30D nano silk black or thread black 8 0
Tail: Rubber legs extra-fine, black.
Body: Black goose biot.
Thorax: Dark hare’s dubbing.
Wingcase: Pheasant tail fibers, black.
Antennae: Rubber legs extra-fine, black.
Step-By-Step for Black Stonefly Nymph
Lock your nymph hook in the vice, making sure it is secure and not too close to the tip of the jaws, as the hook may slip when you apply tension to it.
I advocate using barbless hooks where possible to ease the removal and minimize the damage done to the fish.
Apply 4-5 winds of light lead wire. The lead wire provides the needed weight for the fly to sink and an extra bulking for the thorax part of the fly.
Start with a thread based in front of the lead wrapping. Wrap over the lead wire gently, making sure you secure it in place properly. Run the thread along the shank toward the back ending as it bends.
Tie in your rubber legs at the bend of the hook making sure they are evenly splayed out to imitate the nymph’s tail.
Tie in your black goose biot, tip first. If the biot is too hard dip it in water for 2 seconds to soften and be more pliable. There are 2 sides to the biot, both giving you a different result depending on which way you tie it in.
For the early black stonefly nymph pattern, I like the darker side to face forward giving a distinctly segmented abdomen appearance. Wrap the biot forward making sure you have even segments as you move forward.
Tie off the biot at the start of the first third of the hook shank.
Tie in your black pheasant tail fibers tips first and run your thread towards the hook eye.
Now tie in the front antennae, making sure they are splayed out as you had previously done with the tail pieces. Run the black thread back toward the base of the pheasant tail.
Make sure the area is going to be dubbed as a proportionate size and taper to the tail. It is very important to make sure the body proportions are correct in these specific nymph imitations.
Time to dub your thread. If you battle with this stage, a little thread wax will help when you dub the thread. Wrap the dubbing forward, stopping just behind the hook eye.
Tease the dubbing with a small piece of velcro to give that buggy appearance.
Pull the pheasant tail over the thorax to form the wingcase. Secure the fibers with a few wraps and build up a thread head at the same time. You need to use a whip finish tool to finish the fly and apply head cement.
The last thing to do is trim the rubber legs. Snip the antennae shorter than the tail.
How to fish the black stonefly nymph
The most important thing to remember when fishing the black stonefly pattern is that the natural nymph doesn’t swim. So when fishing the pattern a dead drift is key.
The pattern works really well as the point fly on a dry dropper rig or as a point on a euro nymph rig in those higher early spring waters. Trout will feed at will on these patterns so it is always a good thing to have them in various sizes and weights.