Fly Fishers' Republic

Mayfly Emerger

May 20, 2007

by Raif Killips

Mayfly Emerger



The Mayfly Emerger is meant to represent the larger mayflies like the ‘hex’, and the green and brown drakes. In smaller versions it works well during hatches of pond and lake olives. It can be fished on still and running water including fast runs. The pattern sits with the body hanging down through the meniscus and is an essential pattern when the fish are keying in on the emerging duns. The version illustrated is great for hatches of European mayflies, Ephemera danicaEphemera vulgata, and the North American mayfly, Hexagenia limbata. Size and colour should be adjusted to match your local hatch.

How to fish:

Present the mayfly emerger using standard dry fly tactics, maintaining a drag free drift at all times.

Like other large air resistant patterns, it requires a well built leader and a reasonably executed cast to achieve proper turnover. While you might try braided or furled leaders to assist with turnover and accuracy, these systems can also produce a significant amount of leader spray that can spook the fish. This is a common problem on the most popular fisheries. Using a mono leader helps eliminate this issue. It’s hard to beat a standard nylon tapered leader with a 2X or 3X tippet. You could try the leader design outlined here »


The Mayfly Emerger is broadly based on the Klinkhamer Special that is tied in some similarly large sizes. It also has roots in John Goddard’s Suspender Olive Emerger.

Further Reading:

The Trout-Fly Patterns of John Goddard, J Goddard, 2004, Lyons Press, ISBN 1-59228-583-X.


Sometimes its suggested using tan or grey for the shuck but I've found a sparse tail made with the same material as the body works just fine and saves a little time at the vise.

CDC produces excellent buoyancy for this pattern and used here they're surprisingly hard wearing. If you accidentally pull this fly under while mending your line much of the time it will pop back up like a cork!

Using wire for the rib, instead of oval tinsel, produces a hard-wearing fly with the added bonus that when the rib becomes tarnished, as it will with time, it actually works even better to emulate the segmentation of the natural's body.

Using Dave's Flexament on the wing post before wrapping the hackle also helps with durability. Tied properly with a tight body, this pattern will last being mauled by several fish. The fly in the photograph opposite is proof of this. With only a slightly chewed body and a thinning thorax, this example has accounted for several fish.