Golden Stonefly Nymph: My Favorite Pattern

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love fishing big meaty flies.  It makes no difference whether you are talking top water or subsurface, there is something satisfying about tying a lunker of a fly on the end of your line instead of that size 32 midge.  A stonefly nymph often fits the bill.  We have a blast drifting them for the wild browns and bows of Pennsylvania, and of course the monster native brook trout of Maine.

As usual, there are endless patterns and variations out there that imitate the nymph stage of a stonefly.  I have tied many of them, and always find myself coming back to the tying table to try something new.  I’ve used all kinds of different materials, from the style of hook to the antennae, with varying degrees of success.  I’m about to show you the pattern I have come up with that has given me the greatest success both here in Pennsylvania, as well as up in the wilderness of Maine.  I was planning on keeping this pattern to myself, but have grown tired of my brother trying to steal them out of my box.  Go tie your own Josh!

Flip rocks and study what you find.

The biggest issues I have with tying stonefly nymphs is that they are time consuming and eat up a lot of material.  Some patterns out there will bring you to tears if you snap them off on a snagged rock.  This pattern isn’t the longest to tie, but it isn’t the fastest either.  There isn’t anything super-secret about this pattern, and it certainly isn’t a ground breaking fly.  I have just taken (possibly even stolen) aspects of some of your ties on Instagram and converted them into a stonefly pattern that has been very productive for me.  I strongly believe in all of the materials that I’m about to share with you; and let me tell you, confidence is half the battle.  In my opinion, these materials provide the most accurate color, size and profile of the golden stonefly nymph.  As we all know, that is what you are looking for when tying any fly imitation.  Take pictures of the real deal, and study how that insect acts in its natural habitat.  Find the best materials to mimic all those things and you will have success.

Do your research. Handbook of hatches by Dave Hughes is a great start.


Hook- Daiichi 1730, #10-#6

Lead Free Round Wire.

Thread- 140 Denier, Rusty Brown or Dark Brown

Tail, Legs and Antennae- Brown Goose Biot

Top side of Abdomen- Brown Thin Skin

Abdomen/Rib/Thorax- SLF Dave Whitlock Dubbing, Golden Stone Nymph

*This dubbing is clutch. There are countless “stonefly” dubbings out there, but don’t waste your time.  Dave Whitlock’s Golden Stone Nymph dub is the most accurate (in the northeast anyway).

Wingcase- Turkey Feather


Step 1- Pinch Barb

Step 2- Wrap Lead Free Weight

*I like my stonefly nymphs nice and heavy to get down fast and bounce the bottom.  The lead wraps also save lots of dubbing and time.  I would make sure to tie a couple with much less weight for slow moving water.

Step 3- Cover “lead” with thread

Step 4- Tie in goose biots for tail

Step 5- Cut thin skin to desired size and tie in.

Step 6- Dub the abdomen while using the dubbing to create segments in the thin skin backing.  Cut off excess thin skin.

Step 7- Tie in turkey feathers.

Step 8- Continue building up dubbing wraps, tie in first set of legs, pull turkey feather forward and tie off to prepare for next section.

Step 9- Repeat step 8.

Step 10- Repeat step 8 one more time (try to tapper down your dubbing wraps).

Step 11-Tie two short/thin goose biots for antennae.  Tie turkey feathers towards the eye of hook.  Dub back to last section of wing case. Pull turkey feather back and whip finish.

Step 12- Heat a sewing needle or bodkin with a lighter. Carefully press against legs to create joint.

*Step 12 is optional and totally unnecessary, but it makes those Instagram photos a little more exciting.  I rarely do this step unless I plan on posting a pic on social media.

Comments 2

  1. Tying some of your stonefly patterns up and going to try them out here on the Rio Grande and Arkansas Rivers both have big browns and big stonefly hatches

  2. Hi,

    I just found your site and have enjoyed it very much. The stone fly pattern is awesome. One little twist that I do is after tying in the antenna, I bend the waste end of the biot back forward over the thread of the head, leave a little exposed, tie off and cut off the waste. This makes a cool little eye. Really makes them come to life.

    The artwork and photography is outstanding.

    I have not read all the info on your site so far, but share the same passion for fly fishing and the environment.

    tight lines,


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