The Brown Drake Mayfly begins the big dry fly season as a precursor to the Hex. I know many Michigan trout bums that would rather fish the Brown Drake hatches because they take place just as it’s getting dark and you’re in bed by midnight after the spinner falls. It’s the perfect opening act for the one-size-larger Hex that begins to come off the water and “spin” well after darkness falls. This particular pattern has worked really well in the evening for me. Not only does it imitate a hatching B.D., but I’ve had many streamer-like hits on it indicating it could also double as a small streamer if completely soaked and under the surface.
Begin with your thread at the mid-point on the hook shank and secure your thread taking wraps rearward to the bend of the hook before snipping or breaking off the tag end.
Strip about a dozen hackle fibers or fibers from a partridge soft hackle and measure them out to be approximately half of the length of the hook shank. Then, take an inch length of McFlylon and strip a conservative amount of fibers from the piece you cut. This will imitate the trailing shuck so it’ll go on top of the hackle fibers.
In order to keep the two materials separated, after I secure the McFlylon on top of the shank, I’ll lift the shuck and take one wrap underneath it before making one wrap over both materials. This creates a “thread sandwich” between the hackle and McFlylon.
Taking the thread forward to the initial tie-in point, I’ll then tie in my wire. Since there’s a moderate amount of dubbing used for the tail, I use a medium UTC Ultra Wire to help counter the amount of dubbing. Taking a 2″-3″ length of wire ensures you’ll have plenty to wrap the tail. The wire is tied in on the near-side of the hook shank and make securing wraps to the bend of the hook.
With the thread hanging there at the bend of the hook, make a medium-sized dubbing noodle of Hare’s Ear. With this pattern, fight the urge to make your dubbing noodles too long. Instead, continue to add more dubbing when needed. The end result is a really visually-appealing fly. The idea is to create a very gentle taper two-thirds the length of the hook.
Once the body is dubbed, make counterwraps of wire to the front of the dubbed body and capture it with your thread. Then, helicopter the remnant wire off and take two or three more wraps.
The thorax is dubbed in a yellow-ish color. I particularly like this because not only is it realistic but it lends itself to a “hot spot” which I’m a firm believer in with my nymphs. The thorax is more or less a ball of dubbing right ahead of the tail. I don’t skimp on the dubbing here because it acts as a prop/wedge for the next step.
Cut, clean, and stack a pencil-width clump of deer hair. After it’s stacked, give it another cleaning to get all of the stragglers out of the stack. I take the deer hair and measure how long I want my wing to be. I HATE to trim deer hair once it’s tied in so I’ll measure, cut, and then tie. The tips of the hair should reach to the bend of the hook. It makes for an extremely clean head whether you’re tying a deer hair caddis, a streamer, or in this case, an emerger.
Tie in the wing just ahead of the thorax and make tight wraps through the butts creating a nice, tight head. I use a standard three or four-turn whip finish before cutting the thread. The final step is trimming the trailing shuck. Some like it longer than the tail fibers and some like it shorter. This is personal preference and comes down to whatever you have confidence in.
This is a fairly easy fly to tie but it’ll pay dividends before the hatch and during.
Hook: 2XL Wet Fly Hook
Thread: UTC 70 Denier (Brown)
Tail: Dry Fly Hackle or Partridge Hackle Fibers
Shuck: White McFlylon
Tail Dubbing: Hare’s Ear Blend (Natural)
Thorax: Antron Dubbing
Wing: Deer Hair
Misc.: Head Cement