Flies that match helgrammites

dcfoster

Well-known member
Messages
126
Reaction score
6
Location
Owen Sound, Ontario
I found a couple of these ready under the rocks in a local stream. I think someone who told me once that they were Helgrammites. They are probably the biggest insects I’ve ever found in the stream hear some of them are over an inch long. Could someone please tell me what flies out there I would get to match this insect. And another question, why are there no fly patterns that I’ve seen that have a tan body and a black head in this size?




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

ddb

Well-known member
Messages
643
Reaction score
215
Could that be a crane fly nymph? Hellgramites have more pronounced pincers around here.

Hellgramites often differ in color a bit by locale. Check out the Murray's Hellgramite pattern for a suggestive, easy tie. ( You an add a small o-ring cut open at the head to imitate pincers too.) They work on smallies and even steelhead.
 

trev

Well-known member
Messages
3,225
Reaction score
1,876
Location
south of Joplin
The original Woolly Bugger was meant to be a hellgrammite, very similar to the Murray's pattern in looks, difference between marabou and ostrich mostly, I doubt the rubber pinchers add anything.

crane flies typically have no legs in this area.

Craneflycrane_fly_larva_11-08-12.jpg

dobsonflyHellgrammite_9-12-16.jpg
 

bigjim5589

Well-known member
Messages
3,841
Reaction score
501
Location
Manning, S. C. (formerly MD)
Some of the patterns that do exist are like crayfish patterns, in that they take time to tie and IMO, are more detailed than necessary. I've tied a basic rabbit strip fly that has worked fine for stream bass, that my intention was to imitate the Hellgies. Whether or not that's what the bass mistook the fly to be I can't say, but they would grab the fly.

I tie this fly as a generic Stonefly Nymph, and will tie it longer and with some color variations to use it as a Hellgrammite. I've added extra legs at times, but can't say it improved it. I've seen them in some waters where they were close to 3" long, but most are not that big.

100_4109.JPG

These are some versions of the Murray Hellgrammite that I've tied, and they're a good pattern, but I've not had any better success using them than any other fly that I've tried.
100_6362.JPG

This is a variation of the Woolly Bugger, with ostrich herl tail instead of marabou, and it's also worked well as an Hellgie imitation. Although, I tie them in all black.
100_5610b.jpg

I've played with many types of patterns to imitate them, but never really came up with anything that was better than other patterns in wide use. I also don't want to spend an hour tying one fly.
100_5970.JPG
 

dcfoster

Well-known member
Messages
126
Reaction score
6
Location
Owen Sound, Ontario
Some of the patterns that do exist are like crayfish patterns, in that they take time to tie and IMO, are more detailed than necessary. I've tied a basic rabbit strip fly that has worked fine for stream bass, that my intention was to imitate the Hellgies. Whether or not that's what the bass mistook the fly to be I can't say, but they would grab the fly.

I tie this fly as a generic Stonefly Nymph, and will tie it longer and with some color variations to use it as a Hellgrammite. I've added extra legs at times, but can't say it improved it. I've seen them in some waters where they were close to 3" long, but most are not that big.

View attachment 23982

These are some versions of the Murray Hellgrammite that I've tied, and they're a good pattern, but I've not had any better success using them than any other fly that I've tried.
View attachment 23983

This is a variation of the Woolly Bugger, with ostrich herl tail instead of marabou, and it's also worked well as an Hellgie imitation. Although, I tie them in all black.
View attachment 23984

I've played with many types of patterns to imitate them, but never really came up with anything that was better than other patterns in wide use. I also don't want to spend an hour tying one fly.
View attachment 23985
Thanks so much for all those pictures and great options for flies. I had a question though… Why does it seem that there are no hellgrammite patterns that come with tan bodies and black heads? Most of the patterns I come across are all one color, usually black, but the ones I find my stream are always tan bodies with black heads.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

silver creek

Well-known member
Messages
8,549
Reaction score
2,633
Location
Rothschld, Wisconsin
Thanks so much for all those pictures and great options for flies. I had a question though… Why does it seem that there are no hellgrammite patterns that come with tan bodies and black heads? Most of the patterns I come across are all one color, usually black, but the ones I find my stream are always tan bodies with black heads.
1. Simpler to tie flies of one color.

2. For 2 color flies, BOTH colors MUST match the natural in the correct sequence and proportion for the fly to sell.

If you want a better match, start tying flies. A wooly worm is an easy pattern and perfect for a beginner fly
 

bigjim5589

Well-known member
Messages
3,841
Reaction score
501
Location
Manning, S. C. (formerly MD)
Silver Creek, as usual and often does, nailed it.

The most predominant color for Hellgrammites is probably mostly black, which is why the fly patterns are black. I've found some that were a very dark black/olive green, but most I've ever seen have been mostly black or at least very dark. Unless someone ties a fly to imitate those in your area, there's not going to be a pattern for those colors. Folks tie to imitate what they see.

IMO, unlike some of aquatic insects, that may be imitated with flies that have more detail to the colors, the primary appeal with Hellgies is the movement, particularly with bass.

In the last photo that I posted, the fly near the bottom left side with the white crystal chenille head is the rabbit strip fly I had mentioned previously. I tied it in a couple of colors, again mostly black, and it's a simple fly to tie. I caught fish on it, bass and panfish, and it may have been mistaken for a Hellgie, or something else. I can't be sure, but it was taken, which is the point of any fly pattern. That fly may or may not look like a Hellgie to the fish, but it does have some great movement. Again, I have no idea which appeals the most to the fish, but it's only important to me that is does, and it's a very simple fly to tie.

One other thing about imitating insects of this type, is that they live on the bottom of the stream, in places that flies will get snagged, so flies will get lost. At one time I attempted to tie flies that "imitated" the insects, in size shape & colors, but there's more to imitation than the appearance. It always upset me when I spent a good amount of time tying a fly, then losing it on the first couple of cast without ever having hooked a fish with it. So, over time, my approach changed, and now when possible, I try to tie flies that are productive, but take a lot less time to tie.

If you pay attention to flies that many guides tie, they're the same way, simple, yet productive.

I very much agree with Henry ( Silver Creek), learn to tie your own & it opens up a whole new world for having flies that can imitate whatever you wish.
 

dcfoster

Well-known member
Messages
126
Reaction score
6
Location
Owen Sound, Ontario
Thanks a lot! Both of your suggestions really help… I think I’ll try tying something up that is simple and doesn’t take too much time! But, I really like the flies you sent pictures of so I’ll start with those.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

pheldozer

Well-known member
Messages
309
Reaction score
26
use this as a tail or any chenille that comes in lengths longer than your standard mop fly material that you'd find at a car parts store
 

flytie09

Well-known member
Messages
4,134
Reaction score
2,156
Location
PA
I believe it’s a Hellgrammite. Look up Bill Skilton’s version. Easy to tie.
 

philly

Well-known member
Messages
563
Reaction score
261
Location
Philadelphia, PA
I've seen some in a stream in VT that were a very dark brown. It looks like the one in the picture is covered with mud or bottom material since the head and the first segment are dark. If you had picked it up and rinsed it in the water, I would bet the rest of it is a dark color. Picking it up would also give you another way of identifying it. As I learned that day in Vermont, if it bites you when you pick it up, it's a Hellgrammite.
 

dcfoster

Well-known member
Messages
126
Reaction score
6
Location
Owen Sound, Ontario
I've seen some in a stream in VT that were a very dark brown. It looks like the one in the picture is covered with mud or bottom material since the head and the first segment are dark. If you had picked it up and rinsed it in the water, I would bet the rest of it is a dark color. Picking it up would also give you another way of identifying it. As I learned that day in Vermont, if it bites you when you pick it up, it's a Hellgrammite.
This is the natural colour pattern... I’ve found multiple ones over the last couple of years and they all have the same proportions. I found a similar one online:





Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
Top