Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

I have almost always been successful when fishing with the stonefly nymphs I tied that Randall Kaufman designed. Probably most fly fishermen did. Kaufman’s patterns were well known from the several books he published on the tying of nymphs as well as dry flies. Randall followed up his very successful stone fly nymph design with his version of a series of adult stone flies that is known as a Stimulator. His original version had a yellow body and an orange thorax. With varies colors and using different hook sizes the original design can imitate many different stone fly adults including the original yellow body and orange thorax that might be taken for a Golden stone or the large Salmon fly. Dave Hughes’ book, Trout Flies has the dressing instructions for stimulators including golden, green and orange. Hughes also provides patterns for “fluttering stone flies” which follow Kaufman’s original design though they are larger and dressed with a lot of hackle. The extra hackle is intended to flutter in the water’s current and represent legs of the fly.

I have caught fish with Kaufman’s version of the adult stone, but I wondered if some improvements could be made to encourage trout to strike more often. The two pictures with this blog show some of the changes I made.  Kaufman’s patterns used Antron, fur, or synthetic dubbing for the body. I used 1 mm fly foam. I used a permanent magic marker to color the abdomen if needed. The original designs were ribbed with undersized hackle which allowed the fly to float quite well. I ribbed the 1mm fly foam with undersized hackle as well. With the combination of fly foam and hackle the fly floats like cork and only needs one false cast to throw off any water before delivering the fly to the water again. Kaufman’s originals use elk hair for the tail. I used goose biots which I believe gives the fly a more realistic silhouette when viewed from under the water by a trout. Kaufman’s designs rely on hackle to represent the adult fly’s legs and my design does too, but I added thin rubber legs which might flutter a little more.

I hope these changes provide more action.

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