Attractor Flies: Tying the Rainbow Nymph

Some time ago, when I shared posted a photo of the Rainbow Nymph on my Facebook page somebody asked, “What bug does that match?” The answer, of course, was none.

The Finished Rainbow Nymph
The Rainbow Nymph.

While it's true that matching the hatch or matching underwater insects is an important factor when we fly fish, there may be days when there may not be any apparent hatches or days when, no matter what imitation you toss, the trout just seem uninterested. Those are the days when you may need to dig into your fly box and tie on an attractor pattern.

Attractor patterns do not represent any particular insect. When Lee Wulff was asked what his fly, the famous Royal Wulff, represented he stated that it did not look like anything in particular but that nonetheless the fish ate it. Such is the case of many other well known attractor patterns, such as the copper john, hare's ear nymph, and humpies.

I like to fish this pattern as dropper to either a dry fly or another nymph. I have listed specific colors of the dubbing and thread for this pattern. However, feel free to use a variety of other colors.

The Recipe

HOOK: TMC 2487 (curved caddis hooks)
THREAD: 8/0 orange
RIBBING: Larva Lace Midge Lace Clear
BEAD: Brass Rainbow Beads
DUBBING: Prism Dubbing and / or Ice Dubbing in colors of: Caddis Green, Electric Blue and UV Red

Prepare your materials.

Rainbow Nymph Materials
Rainbow Nymph Larva Lace

Step 1: Place bead on hook, making sure smaller hole faces the hook eye.

Rainbow Nymph 1

Step 2: Thread the hook evenly toward back of hook.

Rainbow Nymph 2

Step 3: Tie in 1 inch length of Larva Lace.

Rainbow Nymph 3

Step 4: Mix a pinch of each dubbing in a pile. This will be the dubbing for the body. It is best to do this by hand instead of a grinder as you want each specific colors to show through the mix. In other words, a rough mix is perfect.

Rainbow Nymph Dubbing Mix
Rainbow Nymph 4

Step 5: Dub the body with your mixture.

Rainbow Nymph 5

Step 6: Rib the body with the Larva Lace. It's fine to leave a few gaps between ribbing to allow some of the dubbing to peak through. Tie down the Larva Lace behind the bead.

Rainbow Nymph 6

Step 7: Next, dub behind the bead head with the UV Red only.

Rainbow Nymph 7

Step 8: Whip finish the fly behind the bead.

Rainbow Nymph 8

Step 9: The fly is complete.

Rainbow Nymph 9
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Comments

Brittany Davenport's picture

Love the looks of this one! Great job! I will for sure be tying a few of these up for this summer! <3

Aileen Lane's picture

Thank you, Brittany! Let me know how you do!

Ryan Russell's picture

Great article! I've used similar things as droppers. For example, what does a "lightning bug" match in Idaho? I'm not sure but they slay as a dropper at times. Experimenting is always the answer. If nothing is working, why not throw one of these on? It's something they might not have seen and like the show Man vs. Food, it may be like Fish vs. Food and they will take a swipe just to try something that looks tasty. :)

Aileen Lane's picture

Ahhh Yes! The lightning bug is another effective attractor nymph in our waters! Thank you, Ryan!

Michelle Bryant's picture

This is a great go-to fly to use as a dropper below your hatch matched nymph. I started using this fly this year instead of the zebra midge or small copper john. Although those flies are still successful, this bug seems to attract the bigger bows and bigger browns even. I have presented several "attractor nymphs" but this seems to be most consistent.

Aileen Lane's picture

I am all for bigger bows and browns!!!

Patti Bantam's picture

Great article and great advice. I have had the opportunity to cast one or two of Aileen's freshly tied nymphs. They all seem to have the ability to attract that elusive brown trout on even the slowest of days.

Aileen Lane's picture

Thank you, Patti!

Chad Shmukler's picture

If only I had anything but ice red dubbing. Very eager to get this on the water. Will have to rectify the problem.

Aileen Lane's picture

Well, I happen to know someone who can tie these for you. ;)

Brian davenport's picture

Great fly will definitely be fishing this fly this year. As lee w said cotton candy. Great job on the write up can't wait to see more articles from Aileen

Aileen Lane's picture

Thank you Brian!

Brian Mowers's picture

Great advice for a slow day with traditional nymphs Aileen. This is a sure fire attractor. I will have to try this on Oak Creek. Well done!
Brian
Sedona Fly Fishing Adventures

Aileen Lane's picture

Thanks Brian! Do let me how you do on Oak Creek!

Jeff Davis's picture

Great fly and tutorial. That fly produces!!! Thanks for sharing.

Aileen Lane's picture

Thank you Jeff!

Dirk's picture

Why specifically red dub on the top?

Aileen Lane's picture

The red is basically a "Hot Spot" for fishing in murky or fast waters when your nymph may go unnoticed. It may work, it may not. Definitely not for spooky fish in clear waters.

Aileen Lane's picture

But then again, this fly is already flashy that it won't make a difference. lol More of a preference.

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