Rubber legs are a staple of bigger dry fly patterns such as hoppers and cicada patterns as well as becoming increasingly common on nymph patterns (e.g Manic Tackles wonderful rubber legged nymphs). However, they are far less common on smaller more traditional fly patterns. There are a few, mainly balloon caddis or elk hair caddis variants (e.g mini hoppers, yakcaddis and many more) and beetle or terrestrial patterns (e.g Edwards little ant) . Inspired by some South African fly tiers (Ed Herbert, Tom Suttcliffe et al), as well as Mick Hall, I’ve been mucking around with adding little rubber legs and tails to what are pretty much traditional dry fly patterns. The rationale is that things that are alive, well they move. So if you can add a bit of extra movement to dry flies and emergers, that should theoretically be an advantage, at least at times on some patterns. The obvious place to start is on beetle patterns, where rubber legs are relatively common, but I also think there is definitely room for rubber on emerger patterns and other traditional dry flies, which is what I am currently playing around with.
Its only early on in the experimental phase, but so far the results have been good. On a recent trip taking out a couple of newbies for their first fly fish, it was the little rubber legged flies that really did the business. We were fishing a midge hatch the fish were on and they were happily enough taking size 18 griffiths, black midge balls and black adams patterns. The problem was getting their attention, with no wind and a consistent hatch, they were more or less rising randomly making targeting specific fish difficult, meaning there were a lot of casts between fish. So out came a little black emerger with a senyo shaggy dub rubber tail. It was quickly apparent that the extra movement was helping and it easily outfished the other flies for the rest of the hatch. The little extra something seemed to attract their attention and draw them to the fly over the naturals, making the job of getting a rise to your fly instead of a natural a hell of a lot easier… The fly also worked on some little stream fish within Melbourne itself (that location is staying secret), but like most tiny stream fish, they aren’t exactly fussy. More experimentation is sure to follow and if any of the patterns earn a permanent place in my fly box I’ll be sure to share them with you 🙂
Good luck on the water