Flymphs

Spec

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Flymphs are a type of fly that most don't seem to know about. I've handed out a few on stream and get puzzled looks!
Questions I get - is it an emerger, yep. A nymph, yep. A wet fly, yep. heck you can fish it dry if you want.

Flymphs have their own forum and devotees: Flymph Forum
Here's a good example (not mine):

1623075989721.jpeg


A key component is using silk thread and spinning the body. The traditional approach is to use a spinning block. I spilt the attached silk thread and spin the dubbing, seems to give the same results to my eye. Silk is preferred because it will take on a translucent property when wet that gives the fly a subtle under color like a natural insect has. Well that's the theory anyway.

Sorry if this is common knowledge to the more traditional fly fishers. I didn't know about flymphs and the unique ways you can fish them even after years of fishing wet flys.

So any flymph fans on board?
 

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trev

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I actually thought I was using "flymphs" ever since reading Hidy's writings in about 1977, tied and fished hundreds of flies patterned in Leisenring's style; then I discovered that forum and found out that they are only flymphs if tied with silk.
I don't recall Hidy saying that, but I just call 'em soft hackles now.
I'll probably never fish a flymph, because nylon is, imo, superior to silk at both tying flies and at catching fish.

oh, and the way to spin those dubbing things is to rub them on your pant leg, using a block is like using GSP thread.
 

old timer

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I never could get into flymphs. I have little doubt that they work good.

I lean towards the old lightly hackled/body spiders a partridge & orange.
 

ddb

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What actually defines a "flymph" pattern?

I was just informed on another site that the hackle does not have to be wound in spaced turns over the thorax which I always thought was a hallmark. If hackles can be wound tight at the eye too, what difference is there between that and other wet fly styles?
 

jonbo

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What actually defines a "flymph" pattern?
Its flymphisity? No, jk. To change the subject a little, this is my issue, if you will, with the soft-hackle patterns in general. I don't have any clear idea what an actual emerging mayfly or other fly looks like. Well, I have a slight idea what a caddis emerger might look because the various renditions include some kind of sparkle yarn, so I know you're supposed to somehow imitate an air bubble, or something. But I really don't have know if a flymph with its fluffy body, more of a spider with a sleeker body, which of these looks more like an actual emerger. I do know that with my soft hackle ties, when they're in the water, the hackle sweeps back and more or less covers the body. With that occurring, does it even really much matter what I use for the body? But especially, I don't know what an actual bug looks like as its emerging. When I've seen active fish below the surface, occasionally I've waded into the middle of where they were feeding looking to see what it was they were feeding on. I've never found the emergers, if that's what they were. I'm a little frustrated with the not knowing really what I'm supposed to be trying to imitate. The various larvae, I've dragged enough of them up or found them under rocks to have an idea of what I should try to imitate. With emergers, no clue.
 

Meuniere

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So, for those of us who don't tie (my vision would make it uber-challenging), what would you recommend as a good online source for soft hackles/flymphs? Wherever I look, it seems like online retailers only ever have a few standard soft-hackles, and that's it. Any help greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

stenacron

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Its flymphisity? No, jk. To change the subject a little, this is my issue, if you will, with the soft-hackle patterns in general. I don't have any clear idea what an actual emerging mayfly or other fly looks like. Well, I have a slight idea what a caddis emerger might look because the various renditions include some kind of sparkle yarn, so I know you're supposed to somehow imitate an air bubble, or something. But I really don't have know if a flymph with its fluffy body, more of a spider with a sleeker body, which of these looks more like an actual emerger. I do know that with my soft hackle ties, when they're in the water, the hackle sweeps back and more or less covers the body. With that occurring, does it even really much matter what I use for the body? But especially, I don't know what an actual bug looks like as its emerging. When I've seen active fish below the surface, occasionally I've waded into the middle of where they were feeding looking to see what it was they were feeding on. I've never found the emergers, if that's what they were. I'm a little frustrated with the not knowing really what I'm supposed to be trying to imitate. The various larvae, I've dragged enough of them up or found them under rocks to have an idea of what I should try to imitate. With emergers, no clue.
History of the Flymph
 

stenacron

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I will say this... those that fish soft hackles and/or flymphs have probably not experienced the same frustrations others have when encountering a caddisfly hatch. When properly tied, there are no patterns that do it better. Here we see a common caddisfly called the Green Sedge (Rhyacophilia sp.) against a soft-hackled wet fly called the Pale Green Itch-scratcher:
pale green caddis.jpg
pale green itch scratcher.jpg

Note how the base thread color "bleeds' through the dubbing color when wet... giving the illusion of translucency. Ah, good stuff.

Also, see why many believe that patterns that are tied "in the round" without wings are more versatile (and more effective).
 

trev

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What actually defines a "flymph" pattern?

I was just informed on another site that the hackle does not have to be wound in spaced turns over the thorax which I always thought was a hallmark. If hackles can be wound tight at the eye too, what difference is there between that and other wet fly styles?
I think you have to use only "Pearsall's Gossamer" silk thread and you must wind the dubbing up on a wooden block. (Although Leisenring didn't use the block method and he didn't call them flymhs either)
Otherwise it is just another fly. I tied similar flies for about 40 years and thought I was tying "flymphs" until I joined that Flymph forum and the members there made it clear that it was only a flymph if tied with silk.
Hughes says that the difference is that "soft hackles" emphasize the hackle with very little body, and that "flymphs" emphasize the the body with the hackle being secondary.
I think too that flymphs are more heavily hackled with 4-5 turns rather than 1-2 turns of soft hackles.
Spiders and flymphs used to have hackle palmered over the front 1/3 of the body where the legs of the insect actually are rather than a collar of a soft hackle. (which used to be simply "hackle" flies)
I think also that spiders and soft hackles have no tails and that flymphs have tails. Perhaps flymhs have ribbing where soft hackles don't, more body emphasis.
It also seems to me that not all of Leisenring's flies were flymph like (none of his flies were flynphs, that was Hidy's thing) he used some tailless and a couple with collared hackle, IIRC.

So, for those of us who don't tie (my vision would make it uber-challenging), what would you recommend as a good online source for soft hackles/flymphs? Wherever I look, it seems like online retailers only ever have a few standard soft-hackles, and that's it. Any help greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I haven't bought from them because I tie, but I think https://detteflies.com/collections/soft-hackles-flymphs?page=3 has a good reputation.
 

Unknownflyman

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I managed a a rainbow and a small jack salmon (4 Lbs) on a flymph fishing with Ard, they work anywhere. My version for spey I just call the swimming nymph and it is moderiized a bit with a little flash and stuff with small bead chain eye, sinks like a stone and rides deep in the trenches on the swing.
 
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stenacron

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I think you have to use only "Pearsall's Gossamer" silk thread and you must wind the dubbing up on a wooden block. (Although Leisenring didn't use the block method and he didn't call them flymhs either)
Otherwise it is just another fly. I tied similar flies for about 40 years and thought I was tying "flymphs" until I joined that Flymph forum and the members there made it clear that it was only a flymph if tied with silk.
Hughes says that the difference is that "soft hackles" emphasize the hackle with very little body, and that "flymphs" emphasize the the body with the hackle being secondary.
I think too that flymphs are more heavily hackled with 4-5 turns rather than 1-2 turns of soft hackles.
Spiders and flymphs used to have hackle palmered over the front 1/3 of the body where the legs of the insect actually are rather than a collar of a soft hackle. (which used to be simply "hackle" flies)
I think also that spiders and soft hackles have no tails and that flymphs have tails. Perhaps flymhs have ribbing where soft hackles don't, more body emphasis.
It also seems to me that not all of Leisenring's flies were flymph like (none of his flies were flynphs, that was Hidy's thing) he used some tailless and a couple with collared hackle, IIRC.


I haven't bought from them because I tie, but I think https://detteflies.com/collections/soft-hackles-flymphs?page=3 has a good reputation.
Per Vernon "Pete" Hidy - who actually coined the term "flymph" - it represents the most vulnerable stage of aquatic insect emergence... those tense moments when a "nymph" becomes a "fly"

With respect to materials and "must use" it is important to remember how limited these guys were that developed the patterns at the time. They couldn't buy Snipe feathers, they had to go out and shoot one (or trade with somebody else). Personally speaking, I incorporate DMC embroidery floss into patterns whenever possible... it's cheap, the color selection is massive, and when a single strand is twisted into a rope it gives a nice impression of body segmentation. Two colors can be twisted together for a mottled effect.

Speaking of color, that's another thing us modern tyer's take for granted. Folks should check out the classic Tups Indispensible pattern... apparently there was only once natural source of pinkish/orange fur in those days for the thorax, but only the brave of heart would dare harvest it! :oops:
 

trev

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I've read Hidy's version of the book three times I think, but don't have it in front of me, wasn't the whole "fishing the flymph" thing an addendum by Hidy to a revised version of Leisenring's work? I've always wanted read the original.
With respect to materials
Oh, yeah, and nylon thread wasn't available either or I'm guessing that a guy like Leisenring would have used it, I don't think he was a guy that was stuck on traditions for the sake of tradition.
Didn't he use a lot of cockerel hackle on his wets too, but that doesn't apply to modern flymphs does it? Does anyone tying these flies today consider rooster feathers to be "soft hackles"?
 

stenacron

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I've read Hidy's version of the book three times I think, but don't have it in front of me, wasn't the whole "fishing the flymph" thing an addendum by Hidy to a revised version of Leisenring's work? I've always wanted read the original.
I believe you are correct. Leisenring's original work was published in 1941 and went largely unnoticed with WWII well underway. Story goes that Leisenring was such a skilled tool and die maker that Bethlehem Steel had him removed from the draft list.

The second edition, with Pete Hidy, was published in 1972 which included the "& Fishing the Flymph" part.

There is a beat up copy of the original on Amazon right now for $350: The Art of Tying the Wet Fly
 
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