Dave’s Emerger

An emergence took place here in Bozeman that shoved some classic fly patterns to the back slots of many local fishermen’s fly boxes. Their Brassies, Sawyer Nymphs, and Peacock Nymphs have had to move over for the Dave’s Emerger.

The Dave’s Emerger was actually developed nearly 20 years ago by Dave Corcoran, the former owner of The River’s Edge Outfitters in Bozeman. As Dave explains, "I was over on the Bighorn River in 1983, sometime in early spring, and we needed just a touch more than what we had in our boxes."

Necessity being the mother of invention, Dave took his favorite parts of three classic flies of the time and blended them at his vise that evening. What emerged was a small fly, in sizes #16 and #18, that donned a wood-duck tail and wing case; green, shimmering peacock wrapped tightly around the thorax; and either red or copper wire spun snugly along the abdomen of the fly.

Not only did the emerger look nice at the tying desk, but the fish ate it like a kid eats taffy, and Corcoran knew he had a winner for the fly bins back at the shop. What he didn’t know was the universal applications this fly would have.

Vince Gordon, senior guide at The River’s Edge, calls it the "winged instrument." This name is not only suggestive of the fly’s precision hook-up capabilities but also of its delicate, almost symphonic presentation in the water.

I have found the fly effective on the Paradise Valley spring creeks throughout the year, and the Madison, Yellowstone, Bighorn, and Missouri Rivers in the fall, winter, and spring.

To tie the fly, begin with a Dai-Riki 075 hook, in sizes #16 and #18. Tie in a shaft’s length of wood-duck flank feather fibers for a tail. Use four or five fibers here. Then tie the smallest gauge of copper, red, or chartreuse wire on the shank (preferably on the bottom of the shank).

Wrap approximately twelve or thirteen wraps, or the equivalent of two-thirds the shank length. At this point trip the extra wire, and tie in another six to ten wood-duck fibers, pointing back to the tail, and as long as the end of the tail. Toward the eye, tie in a single strand of peacock hurl, and wrap it just shy of the eye. Pull the wood-duck over the peacock, tie down with two wraps of your 8/0 Uni-thread, and fold the wing case back over the body of the fly.

Corcoran says it should extend three-quarters of the body of the fly. Make a few snug wraps, and either whip finish and cement, or apply Zap-a-Gap to the thread, make two wraps, and trip the thread.

When fishing the fly, you can use it alone or with a strike indicator. Unlike most emerger patterns, the Dave’s is meant to sink. It therefore is always going to penetrate the surface film. I’ve had the best success fishing it off of a slightly larger dry fly, such as a Griffith’s Gnat or Parachute Adams. On the Missouri, I fish it deep, in tandem with a Scud or Sowbug pattern, on 5x tippet six to nine feet below the surface with a strike indicator.

Whichever way you please, this is a skinny little pattern with big fat results. It mimics small mayfly nymphs as well as the ever-abundant midges that thrive within our rivers all year, making it a fly that should reside in anglers’ boxes throughout the region.