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My interest in fishing emergers and traditional wet flies began many years ago as I stood on the edge of a well know stream changing fly after fly while watching mayfly duns drift the length of the run I was fishing almost untouched. I remembered thinking to myself, why aren't they taking the duns, why aren't they taking my dry fly imitation, why am I only catching a few dinks? I had already added a couple of feet of smaller diameter tippet material lengthening my leader by a couple of feet. I had tried a smaller imitation of the fly that I thought was hatching, I could see fish feeding as they bulged just beneath the surface.  Then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, they are feeding on the mayflies as they are emerging!

An emerger is the life stage when an aquatic insect begins to either rise to the surface, crawl onto shore, or shed its skin beneath the water in preparation to hatch. The insect is most vulnerable during this transition from nymph to adult. Many insects, especially mayflies are still subsurface as they emerge. Light Cahills are one of the most prolific hatches of the Southern Appalachians. They often last for months and are found in abundance thru out the Smokies. I like to fish these type of flies on a dropper about 18" behind a dry fly imitation of the adult as an indicator. Try it sometime, even during a full blown hatch when you can actually see fish eating adults you'll be surprised at how many fish will still prefer the emerger.

Although you may actually see the Cahill duns in runs and slower water, the nymphs live in some of the faster sections of a stream. A good way to fish a tandem of a dry and emerging Cahill mayfly is to position yourself near the tail of a riffle and cast up and across stream and allow your fly to drift from the tail of the riffle into the run or pool below. Fish will often move up to the head of the run or pool as the nymphs become more active in anticipation of the hatch.

Hook: TMC3761
Thread: 8/0 UNI Light Cahill
Trailing shuck: Rusty Antron Yarn
Body: Light Cahill Turkey Biot
Thorax" Yellow Rabbit
Hackle: Whiting Hen Saddle
Photo Step 1  

Step 1- Mount hook and start thread at about the ¾ mark. Now tie in your shuck material and wrap the thread backward towards the hook bend. Stop the thread just short of the hook barb.

Photo Step 2

Step 2- Tie in your biot by the tip pointing upwards at about a 45 degree angle. Build up a slightly tapered smooth thread body. Adding a couple of SMALL drops of some type of adhesive to the thread wraps before wrapping the biot will help the durability of the fly.

Photo Step 3

Step 3- Wrap the biot forward in close turns to the thread tie in point. Make 3 or 4 good tight wraps over the biot before you trim. They tend to be a little on the slippery side.

Photo Step 4

Step 4- Size and prepare a hen saddle feather. I like to hold the feather shinny side towards me and remove almost all the fibers on the right side almost to the tip. Then I stroke the remaining fibers on the left side so that they are almost at a 90 degree angle to the stem.

Photo Step 5

Step 5- Tie in the hackle by the butt end, dull side facing you and slightly tilted upwards. Now dub a small ball over the tie in point.

Photo Step 6

Step 6- Gently bend the hackle stem backward to break or crease the stem. Now make 2 or 3 touching wraps backwards towards the hook bend.

Photo Step 7

Step 7- Tie off and trim the hackle.  Sweep  the fibers backwards with  your off hand while gently rocking the thread thru a few  fibers at a time,  Make  three or four wraps thru the hackle while continuing to stroke the fibers back in between wraps a few fibers at a time until the thread is in front of all the hackle fibers.

Photo Step 8

Step 8- Now pull all the fibers back with your off hand and form a head.

Photo Step 9 Finished Fly  

Step 9-Take something sharp like your and Exacto knife or bodkin and separate some of the hackle fibers to even the collar out.

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