This is a post about tying a fly. But for me every fly comes with a story. I often try out different fly designs, many work well, some not as well. But even if a fly works great it may not earn a place in my fly box. The way a fly gets into my heart and my fly box is to create a story. And this fly has done that. Every time I tie one and fish one I’ll think back to a certain summer day in the Smokies that surprised me with some great unexpected fishing.
Every once in a while you stumble upon the perfect stream and you have the “perfect” fly. That’s what happened the first time I tried the SK Emergent. I had recently gotten a new hen neck in a particularly pleasing ginger color and I wanted to try out the new feathers so I tied up a few sakasa kebari with a caddis emerger theme in mind. Fast forward a bit and I’m on a family vacation in Great Smoky National Park – of course I’ve got the tenkara gear – but this is a family trip, not a fishing trip. So I didn’t really know if I’d get much fishing in – but it’s best to be prepared. Well I have a lovely and indulgent wife that will usually graciously allow me a few fishing sessions. In this case the kids were working on their Junior Ranger Badges and needed to collect a bag full of litter, so we pulled off at a streamside picnic area and the wife and kids went garbage pickin’ and I went to harass the local salmonids.
I tried a few different sakasa kebari with some interest but not a ton – so I switched to the new, as yet unfished SK Emergent. And…the fish liked it. On this day, at this time, on this stream, the fish really seemed to prefer this fly over the others. Though perhaps that preference is all in my head. The preferred presentation was a…get ready for it…DAPPING presentation. I know that can be a bad word in the tenkara world sometimes, because of the misconception held by some that tenkara is only dapping. Well of course tenkara is casting. But it can also be dapping. And these fish could not resist the SK Emergent when it was dapped on the surface like an emerging bug. It was money. These weren’t big fish or particularly picky fish – I’m not fooling myself – but they were fun to catch anyway. So the new fly got its story and its place in my fly box – and because of this post it needed a name thus it’s been named the SK Emergent.
So let’s cut to the chase and get to the tying part of the post.
- Hook: Mustad C49S (size 12 here) – or curved scud-type hook of your choice.
- Hackle: Ginger India Hen Neck
- Abdomen: Rumpf Tan Beaver Dubbing, or other tan dubbing with guard hairs included
- Thorax: Wapsi Dark Brown Rabbit Dubbing Blended with Natural Pine Squirrel (or just pine squirrel)
- Ribbing: 1 Strand of 6-Strand Dark Brown DMC Embroidery Floss
- Thread: 6/0 Dark Brown Uni-Thread
- Cut some pine squirrel off of the skin and take an approxiately equal amount of the dark brown rabbit dubbing.
- Mix the pine squirrel and rabbit dubbing – I usually don’t need very much at any one time, so I just mix it by hand. You could use a dedicated coffee mill, or mix it in a bowl of water (then squeeze out and let dry on paper towel).
- Select a hackle feather. Grasp the hackle stem about 1/4-inch back from the tip and sweep hackle fibers back toward the butt-end. Tie in at this point, leaving a little room to finish the head. The hackle feather will have a natural curve (curving in toward the bird). Make sure to tie the feather with the curve up. The side of the feather that was originally facing the bird will be facing away from the hook shank.
- Wrap the hackle toward the bend of the hook – each wrap will be behind the previous. As you do this the feather will “flare” naturally into the typical sakasa kebari hackle shape. After the hackle is wrapped, work your thread back toward the hook bend and tie in 1-strand of the 6-strand embroidery floss.
- Dub a shaggy looking body of tan beaver dubbing, making sure to leave some room for the dark thorax. After the abdomen is dubbed then rib with the floss. At this point you may want to use a dubbing needle or brush to create a nice buggy look.
- Dub a thorax of the pine squirrel/rabbit mix. Again use a needle or brush to scruff it up a bit.
- To finish the fly carefully work the thread through the hackle, being careful not to tie any fibers down. Pull the hackle back toward hook bend and put a few wraps near the base of the hackle wraps, then whip finish to create a small head.