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Guest Blogger: Paul Beel, FrankenFly

Version 2 - tied by Justin Bowman
Version 2 – tied by Justin Bowman

In this blog post I want to concentrate on one of the most well known, effective nymphs that exist, the Hare’s Ear nymph. I don’t want to bore you with details of its history, but concentrate on a modern perspective and new ways to tie it. One thing to mention is that hare’s ear fur has been used for a long time, even as far back as the 1600’s. If you want to know more about its history, I recommend heading over to Flyanglers Online and read an article by Tom Travis where he delves deep into the history of the Hare’s Ear nymph.

The reason this nymph is called a Hare’s Ear is because originally this nymph was tied using the fur found in between the ears of a hare. These days, you can purchase a hare’s mask and get the fur by clipping the hair between the ears. Not only can you use the underfur in this region, but to make it even more buggy, you want to use the guard hairs as well. These days fly tiers will use all parts of the mask to tie a Hare’s Ear. Not only that, but tiers that push the envelope even further, use modern dubbing mixes to tie this popular nymph.

The advantages to using a modern dubbing is that it is already prepared for you and packaged. Ready for you to just take what you need and start tying. Also, many of the current hare’s ear type dubbing blends add a bit of sparkle to the mix, making it more attractive. On that note, most of the Hare’s Ear nymphs these days are tied as a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear with a bead head. The gold rib is added by using copper or gold wire to rib the fly.

So you may be wondering why I called this article Teddy Bear’s Ear. This refers to my own modern dubbing blend that imitates hare’s ear fur, called FrankenDUB Teddy Bear Brown nymph dubbing. Years ago when I was beginning to learn how to tie flies, I was tying all kinds of flies so I would know how to tie a variety of styles and improve my fly tying. My goal was to be a good fly tier. I started with many of the classics, including the Hare’s Ear nymph. At that time, I had no idea where to get the dubbing I needed to tie it. After researching a bit, I just purchased a couple of dubbings that actually had the name, Hare’s Ear dubbing. If it had Hare’s Ear in the name, I would try it.

Version 1 - tied by Paul J. Beel
Version 1 – tied by Paul J. Beel

I still see this with other beginners and some tiers that haven’t taken the time to do research. They just buy dubbing that has this name to insure they are tying with the correct style of dubbing. So I wanted to reach out and let everyone know that Teddy Bear Brown Nymph dubbing was blended for this exact purpose. Of course you can use that color in other nymphs, but when I was creating FrankenDUB Nymph dubbing I wanted to make sure I had a blend that would work perfectly for a Hare’s Ear nymph. This blend is a great color for a Hare’s Ear and it’s very buggy. Plus it adds just enough sparkle. I almost called it Hare’s Ear, but I called it by a different name. In hindsight, I probably would not be writing this article, if I had just called it Hare’s Ear color. Oh well…

With the help of a terrific nymph fly tier, Justin Bowman, I have included two versions of modern versions of a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear nymph. Version number one is the way I tie my Hare’s Ear nymphs and version number two is the way Justin ties his. We both use FrankenDUB Teddy Bear Brown nymph dubbing in our nymphs. The entire material list for each is included and the two photos that you see in this article are the nymphs tied by Justin and I. I have captioned them as Version 1 and Version 2 for clarity.

I hope you have gained some insight from this short article. One important thing to note, is that not all fly recipes are set in stone. You can usually find some kind of substitute for a material and use what you have on hand instead. However, some flies may not perform in the same way if you use a different material. You just have to use good judgment, learn by experience and fish your flies to see if they are performing the way they should.

Version 1 – Paul’s Hare’s Ear nymph

Hook: Partridge Sproat Wet barbless size 12 – or any wet fly hook
Weight: 0.015 Lead Free Wire
Head: 1/8” gold brass bead
Tail: Hare’s Ear fur or Pheasant Tail fibers
Body: FrankenDUB Teddy Bear Brown Nymph dubbing
Rib: Small copper wire
Wing case: Pheasant Tail
Thorax: FrankenDUB Teddy Bear Brown Nymph dubbing
Wing case is coated with Deer Creek Diamond Fine Flex UV Resin.
Thread: Danville Monocord 3/0 – Dark Brown

Version 2 – Justin’s Hare’s Ear nymph

Hook: #16 nymph hook
Head: 5/64 bead
Tail: Hare’s Ear fur
Body: FrankenDUB Teddy Bear Brown Nymph dubbing
Rib: Small amber wire
Wing case: Medium pearl mirage tinsel
Thorax: FrankenDUB Teddy Bear Brown Nymph dubbing 
Legs: Partridge – natural


  1. The Hare’s Ear nymph is a classic, go-to all around mayfly nymph pattern, no matter how its tied. These versions are very nice. It reminded me of a lament that a prominent, long-time guide and outfitter here in Bozeman once made during a float trip. He operated a fly shop in Bozeman for over 30 years from the 1970s into the early 21st century. The Hare’s Ear nymph, lightly weighted with a few turns of lead or even un-weighted was a best seller and accounted for a lot of fish. They were hard to keep in stock. When the bead head trend took over in the 90s, anglers wanted the bead head version of the nymph even though it was more expensive than the non-bead version and no more effective. The non-bead version remained just as effective, especially as a dropper, as the bead version, but anglers wouldn’t buy them so they were discontinued. My guide friend still fishes the non-bead version with his clients when the Hare’s Ear Nymph is the right pattern, but he has to tie his own.

    1. Mike,
      I’ve heard the same story and I agree 100%. I definitely love the non-bead head version of the hare’s ear more than the bead head. I’ve heard a similar story of when beads were first added on nymphs that there was a huge belief that adding the metal bead made practically any nymph into a fish catching machine….maybe more aesthetically pleasing to us anglers, but probably no more productive with fish. :0)

  2. Nice article Paul. The GRHE is one of my top three…maybe top two…go-to nymphs. I too like the non-bead version. I will often add the few turns of weight wire that Mike mentioned, for sink rate and also because it bulks up the thorax cross section a little bit, making for a nice juicy-looking bug, but I like the thread-finished head and I like to imagine that the soft hackle moves a bit better with a little more laminar flow across the barbs (instead of being partially in the hydrodynamic “stall zone” of a bead). Coyote coloration also seems to work really well. It’s all variations on a well established theme. I’ll even add bits of grey-blond hair from my own noggin to make it spikey. I tend to use amber wire or gold tinsel, rather than copper wire, but I have no data either way on that. It’s such a fantastic pattern that I can’t seem to keep it off my tippets. : )

    – Mike

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