Spruce Up the Joint

Tying an effective summer fly. 

Although the spruce moth has a bad rap for killing millions of acres of trees in the West (rightfully so), it holds a special place in many trout angler’s hearts. Spruce moths tend to flutter around in late summer in southwest Montana, when most of our aquatic hatches have started to dwindle and trout are less likely to come to the surface.

But during a great moth hatch, trout become impulsive and reckless to take advantage of these clumsy morsels. This pattern is a combination of several highly effective spruce-moth patterns, including the Klinkhammer, and also doubles very well as a caddis. Keep this fly powdered up and you’ll be amazed at what it can do.

Hook: Firehole #315, size 12-16

Thread: Tan 8/0 or 70 denier
Body and thorax: Mix of tan rabbit and natural hare’s mask
Rib: Small pearlescent Veevus tinsel
Post: Pink Widow’s Web
Underwing: MFC mottled brown wing material
Overwing: Natural tan CDC
Hackle: Barred ginger or comparable 

1. Attach thread and wrap rearward partially around the bend. Tie in a strand of pearl tinsel.
2. Dub thread and build abdomen, stopping about two eye lengths behind the eye of the hook.
3. Palmer wrap tinsel over dubbing to create a rib.
4. Double up a strand of Widow’s Web around the hook and wind thread about 1/8’’ up the post, building up a smooth surface to wrap hackle around.
5. Return thread to hook and attach a pre-formed MFC wing directly behind the post. Length of wing should extend just beyond the abdomen. 
6. Attach two tan CDC feathers directly over top of MFC wing. Attach hackle feather to hook, then wind thread back up post and hackle stem and back down again.
7. Wrap hackle around and down the post with 4-6 wraps and secure feather by wrapping thread around post directly under hackle with 2-3 wraps of thread. Trim off excess hackle.
8. Whip finish or half hitch and add a drop of head cement or super glue. Add dry-fly powder and put in front of a hungry trout when spruce moths are present.

Jimmy Armijo-Grover is the general manager of Gallatin River Guides in Big Sky and has been obsessed with fly tying and fly fishing since 1993.