5 emerger fly patterns

Emerger fly patterns imitate aquatic insects that are hatching and breaking through the surface tension. They're deadly for trout.

5 emerger fly patterns
© Davie McPhail
5 emerger fly patterns
Picture copyright © Davie McPhail
5 emerger fly patterns
Estimated reading time 4 - 6 minutes

What is an emerger pattern?

Emerger fly patterns are designed to imitate aquatic insect larvae that are in the process of metamorphosing into flying insects. When the larvae mature, they ascend upwards through the water column and have to break through the meniscus on the water surface.

The meniscus forms a bit of a barrier to tiny insects and they often wiggle around enticingly as they push their way through and open their wings for the first time.

This makes them very vulnerable to trout and, at times, the fish will lock onto these easy prey and take little else. Emerger fly patterns imitate this life stage and help you match-the-hatch to increase your catch rate.

Fishing emergers is excellent fun.

When should you fish emergers?

The best time to use emergers is when fish are taking flies on or near the surface. If the fish are rising and taking flies off the top, try an emerger. However, often you'll be able to persuade trout to rise for an emerger, even when there's no visible surface activity.

How do you fish emerger patterns?

A delicate presentation is needed to let you place your fly (or flies) near the rising fish, so cast gently and use a long leader of 12 feet or more, if you can handle longer.

I'd recommend using a fan casting technique to cover the area all around your current position and placing your flies on the surface for 10 seconds or so, before gently peeling the line off and recasting elsewhere.

You should take care not to make a sound as you lift off, which is achieved with a gentle peel at the start of the cast.

Work your way across the spot and cast to any signs of movement and you'll be able to determine whether there are fish likely to rise. If it doesn't work, either move spot, or try a different technique until you find one that works.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

What emerger fly patterns should I try?

There are loads of different emerger fly patterns, either designed to imitate specific types of emerging insects, or to be general representations of any emerging insect.

I'd recommend taking a few different types with you in sizes from about size 18 (very small) up to about size 12 (fairly big). Here are a few stunning little patterns to try, tied expertly by the brilliant Davie McPhail.

Small CDC emerger midge pattern

Davie McPhail / YouTube.

Hook: Size 16 grub hook
Body: Natural peacock quill
Wing: Natural CDC dubbing
Wing buds: Red CDC feathers
Thread: UTC 70 denier and black Uni thread in 8/0.

Shuttlecock emerger midge pattern

Davie McPhail / YouTube.

Hook: Kamasan size 16 grub hook
Body: Peacock eye
Head: CDC feathers
Wing buds: Chinese red floss
Thorax: Black seal's fur and peacock glister dubbing
Thread: UTC 70 in black

Bob's Bits Bibio emerger pattern

Davie McPhail / YouTube.

Hook: Kamasan B170 size 12
Body: Black seal's fur dubbing
Legs: Knotted pheasant tail
Thorax: Red seal's fur dubbing
Wing: CDC feathers
Rib: Antron pearl thread
Thread: Uni 8/0 black thread

Allrounder emerger pattern

Davie McPhail / YouTube.

Hook: Kamasan size 12 B160 short shank wide gape hook
Body: Stripped peacock eye feather quills coated with varnish
Wing: Deer hair and CDC feathers
Head: Brown dubbing
Thorax: Red fox squirrel dubbing
Legs: Knotted pheasant tail
Thread: Black UTC 70 thread and light cahill thread for head

Yellow owl emerger pattern

Davie McPhail / YouTube.

Hook: Fulling Mill Czech nymph hook
Tail: Coq de leon feathers
Wing: CDC feathers
Rib: Black UTC wire
Thorax: Dubbing blend
Thread: Uni 8/0 light cahill thread

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