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> > Sulphur emerger

AltoidmattApril 28th, 2010, 7:28 am
Altoona, PA

Posts: 7
Wondering what color of sulphur dubbing you use on the sulphur emerger(I live in PA).
I've seen Cahill Cream,pinkish, Humpy Yellow even Orange, I tied a few with super fine labeled "sulphur" colored dubbing but it seems to yellow to be a good match. Any suggestions on brands etc.
OldredbarnApril 28th, 2010, 9:03 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2585

Unfortunately the term "Sulphur" can cover a couple different bugs. Anglers use the term to discribe the yellowish flies that start to hatch after the earlier darker flies start to peter out.

Two of the flies included in this are, what we call here in Michigan, the Light Henny (E invaria) and the smaller, somewhat later hatching, E. dorothea...Now E dorothea dorothera, she's like NY, "So nice they had to name her twice".

The science guys have lumped together the E rotunda and E invaria and these guys are usually covered with a size 14 or 16 hook. The dorothea is covered with a 16-18 hook.

The dorothea here in MI is a beautiful little mayfly. Parts of the bug are the creamiest yellow and it has distinct orange highlights At the terminal ends of the fly and through the thorax. The wings are light gray to creamy white for the duns and a honey dun feather works well for the spinner. Jason has some nice photos.

For the emerger you can wrap the abdomen with light/natural pheasant tail and use your dubbbing mix for the thorax. I have seen a nice softhackle tied like this...Tail: the tips from your P Tail, then wrap abdomen with the few fibers of P Tail (you can reinforce the P Tail with fine gold wire), You can create a wingcase if you wish with the P Tail...dub your thorax and wrap a light gray to cream hen feather once or twice right behind the eye of the hook...This will work for all the Sulphurs if you change the size...12/14 March Brown, 14/16 E invaria, 16/18 E dorothea. You can tie them on standard dry fly hooks or a scud hook.

For the colors of E invaria check out Jason's photos...There are a couple of them there that look like he pulled them from the Au Sable, though I know he did not. The fly can really vary in color and it's really hard to describe the dun right as it's hatching...Here in MI it has some lovely olive tones that you will just have to see for yourself. I don't care how good your dubbing mix mother nature does it better!

I don't want to start another argument here, I'm feeliing good today because my Wings are heading in to round two of the playoffs, but...Don't get too hung up on color. All those fine looking dubbing colors you can buy at the shop are to hook you more than Mr. Trout...This is coming to you from a guy that...dare I say this?...mixes his own beaver blends, by hand, while he's watching the hockey on the tube...I remove all the guard hairs and have formulae saved on tatered old parchment of percentages of each color for a particular fly...20% tan, 20% yellow...etc. My mother finally bought me a small coffee blender for Christmas after they found me sitting in the basement early the next morning, rocking back and forth like a little Arab kid in a Madrasa, mixing my beaver blend with my thumbs and fore fingers and mumbling to myself...Something like, "Look! This is it! E. dorothea! Where's my vise? I think I've finally got it!"

Have fun and don't obsess so much or you will end up a weird-o like Spence!

Take Care!

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
RleePApril 28th, 2010, 9:23 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 341
This is a matter that has been recently discussed over at

Both in PA and out here in the Midwest, I use a dubbed body that is sort of a yellowish tan, closer to tan for both the emerger and the adult.

Its sort of hard to describe, but to take a quick crack at it, I mix probably 3 parts dull, medium tan dubbing to one part dirty yellow. I may have an occasional moment of clarity or sense I'm getting a sign from a higher power and suddenly put a wee bit more yellow in them. But generally, the roughly 3-1 formula works for me. Mix it well.

A lot of guys use orange and a much more pronounced yellow, but I'm pretty happy with the mix as detailed above, at least for the main sulfur hatch, the ones that are a #16 and are virtually everywhere. What we used to call E. Invaria (I don't know what they are called now).

The smaller sulfurs (the ones we used to call E. Dorothea) are significantly lighter and a yellow/orange blend seems more right to me for them. They're also a pretty solid #18, follow the Invarias by a week or more and have been (in my expereince, anyway..) less important than the earlier larger sulfurs.
AltoidmattApril 28th, 2010, 9:42 am
Altoona, PA

Posts: 7
Thanks for the quick response, good info
WiflyfisherApril 28th, 2010, 10:15 am

Posts: 597
Here is a sulphur emerger pattern I really like...

Spence, a lot of us are fly fishing weird-os, bug nerds, hackle nerds, trout nuts, etc.!
John S.
JOHNWApril 28th, 2010, 10:16 am
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
Interesting that for emergers the advice has gone to the color of the dun. I approach from aslightly different angle in that a good part of my emergers hang below the surface so I look more to the nyph for color cues. I do include a slight thorax similar to the color of the dun but do just as well on the flies that don't have the "hot spot" as those that do and on "pressured water" the less there is to look wrong the better.
For Rotunda/Invaria it is a mix of 70/30 brown awsome possum to orange sparkle yarn chopped finely of course as someone else said somtimes the powers that be will take posession of my hands and the blend might go more orange than brown or vice-versa. Or perhaps I didn't quit clean out the dubbing blender and there are hints of cream, olive, iso purple or whatnot.
For dorthea it is just an olive brown superfine or similar.

You milage may vary,
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
Flatstick96April 28th, 2010, 2:36 pm
Posts: 127
Best sulphur patterns I've used in central PA have been the dark sulphur nymph and dark sulphur emerger patterns from FFP. Background info and recipe for their nymph is below (taken from their site) - for the emerger I just eliminate the wingcase and tie in a tuft of muskrat in it's place:

The Sulphur hatch is actually a multiplicity of insects, consisting of at least three species: Ephemerella rotunda, E. invaria, and E. dorothea. For those not inclined to speak in dead languages, think of the first two as large Sulphurs and the final species as the little Sulphur. For years at the store we sold a fairly pale Sulphur nymph, the body of which was a blend of cinnamon mink and chopped gold sparkle yarn. This nymph was (and is) deadly during the dorothea activity but is not nearly as effective during the earlier emergence of the large Sulphurs.

To meet this need, Dan Shields, partner in Flyfisher's Paradise, created the Dark Sulphur Nymph. Dan's original tie consisted of a Charles Brooks' style nymph in the round. The body was a blend of dark brown rabbit and chopped up gold Berber wool. The thorax was palmered with a furnace hen hackle, and furnace hen hackle fibers were the tail. The Dark Sulphur Nymph is extremely effective during the hatches of large, early Sulphurs.

Not content with Dan's original tie, I tweaked the pattern a bit. Because the Berber wool was hard to pick apart and blend, I opted for orange sparkle yarn, since its color was close to the wool and it added a touch of translucence that the trout seemed to like. In place of the furnace hen, I employed speckled brown hen saddle, because of the barring, and a wingcase seemed in order.

A bonus to carrying the Dark Sulphur Nymph is that it looks like many other nymphs. To me, it is more realistic that a Hare's Ear Nymph and fishes better, especially during the mid-April to mid-June burst of mayfly emergences.
Tying Instructions

* Hook: TMC #5262, #12-16

* Thread: 6/0 black unweighted, 6/0 brown weighted

* Weight: Fine lead wire, if desired

* Tail: Brown partridge or brown speckled hen fibers

* Body: Blend of 50% dyed brown Australian opossum and 50% orange sparkle yarn

* Wingcase: Doubled thickness of turkey tail quil

* Legs: Brown partridge or brown speckled hen fibers, tied in front of and to either side of the thorax
JOHNWApril 28th, 2010, 3:28 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
That's the one!!!!!!!
Absolutly deadly even on fussy Central PA wild browns.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
AltoidmattApril 29th, 2010, 7:45 am
Altoona, PA

Posts: 7
Okay, I need to start blending my dubbing. I wish I had bought all natural dubbing as I have heard it blends much better.

Now let me ask this, does the emerging insect show more of the nymph color or the dun color, as Jon W had mentioned before?

To find a good emerger color do you mix the nymph color with a hint of the dun color?

Most emergers I see are tied with the dun color, but It makes sense to think the emerger would be darker like the nymph.

Is thier a definite answer to this question or is it trial and error since we never really see the emerger in action?

A Special Thanks for the nymph recipe
JOHNWApril 29th, 2010, 3:31 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
I think it is a matter of exactly which moment in the act of emergence you decide to imitate.
I almost always go with the color of the nymph for the abdomen section and just 2or 3 wraps of the dun color (well actually slightly brighter than the dun) right at the base of the wing. But then again I came up through a school that preached less is more. Basically figure out the bare minimums that work as triggers for the trout to go "thats food" and then stay there. The more you put into the fly the more things the trout can note as being wrong.
All that being said if you ever look in my box just ignore the cut wing duns and the woven stonefly nymphs. ;)
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
GONZOApril 29th, 2010, 7:59 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681

E. invaria is highly variable in color as a nymph and a dun. However, click on the link (below) to Jason's invaria/sulphur page and scroll down to the "2 Streamside Pictures of Ephemerella invaria Mayflies." The first photo might be helpful.
OldredbarnApril 30th, 2010, 7:46 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2585

Just think what you and I may have done with those two photos if we had them back when we started this obsession! I almost feel like we are telling on the trout and those photos should be locked away somewhere marked "Top Secret".

What an age we live in! Just pull out your old tattered copy of "Selective Trout" and compare them with Carl Richards' photos there. Incredible! We could almost toss all those specimens we have collected over the years and start a photo version bug collection. Save on pins, alcohol, maybe my wife won't think I'm such a nerd...

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GONZOApril 30th, 2010, 8:53 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Right you are, Spence. However, I doubt that poring over Internet photos of aquatic insects would prevent your wife from thinking that you are a nerd. At best, she would probably just think that you are a different kind of nerd. That's the way it works in my home. :)
OldredbarnApril 30th, 2010, 9:28 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2585
She actually calls me her "Nerder Birder" because thats something that just seems to go along with my general love of wooded places like chasing trout.

I think she can live with my viewing of bugs & birds on the internet since it's a damn site better than other things I could be viewing there.

When we were first married I continued to drive over to Windsor Ontario to watch the Windsor Spitfires play Junior A hockey every Thursday night. Back then Windsor was known for dancing girls that wore nothing at all. My wife's girlfriends would tell her that I wasn't watching hockey over there and would school her as to what was really going on over there in the border town. She would shake her head and say to them, "No. I'm afraid you don't know Spence...He's watching hockey...You just don't know this weird, weird, man I married."

My wife has a friend that lives in Paris. She visited us years back and brought this Frenchman with her. I took him to Windsor for a game. We drive back through the tunnel and the US Customs guy, who was a very large blackman, leaned over and asked me, "Citizenships?" I said, "One US, one France". He then freaked me out buy speaking with my friend in near perfect French...They went back and forth and were laughing etc and then he waved us on...I asked my friend,"What the hell was that?! What did he say?"

Turns out that he had asked my friend what we were up to in Windsor and he said we were watching a hockey game. The customs guy had started to laugh and said the French equivalent of "Bullshit!"..."You guys were over there checking out the dancing girls and partying like pigs!" My friend said he couldn't convice the guy otherwise.

A nerd is a nerd, is a nerd...No matter how you slice it.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
OldredbarnApril 30th, 2010, 9:43 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2585

Have you ever used the Quigley Cripple type fly shown a few posts ahead of this one? They were just becoming big when I was in Montana in 1995...I have caught fish with them, but I have never quite got my head around what the trout may be taking it for. The wing pointing out over the eye of the hook like that doesn't seem at all natural and I've thought the same thing about the old Haystack...What do you think?

Looking at that invaria photo of Jason's where it's stuck in the shuck is a fair argument for Mike Lawson's "Halfback Emerger", eh! A good friend of mine has shown me a loopwinged version that works really well.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GONZOApril 30th, 2010, 10:46 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
I haven't used the Quigley Cripple, but the forward-projecting wing should become more vertical if the rear of the fly is subsurface, and the fly has many fans. On the other hand, I believe it was Art Lee (if I'm remembering correctly) who designed a whole series of emergers with odd long fibers projecting forward over the eye, supposedly to catch the eye of a trout as they entered the "window." But, as RleeP has pointed out, he also liked to eat "fancy French cheese" streamside--C'est chacun sa merde, I suppose. :)
MartinlfApril 30th, 2010, 12:15 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2801

I think the Quigley may look something like a Klinkhamer style emerger to the fish. Both flies may suggest a nymph-like body subsurface, and, in the flim, the beginning of a dun trying to escape. I think such flies may suggest a fly in trouble, and thus vulnerable. I use a Klinkhamer style emerger a lot, and like it. The Quigley is probably easier to tie, though. It seems to me that many fish will eat any well-presented fly that looks like something they have eaten or could eat. Sometimes, probably for reasons to many to list, a fish may require something different from what you're throwing. Then the weird flies come out. Sometimes one will work!
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
OldredbarnApril 30th, 2010, 12:53 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2585

I'm rather fond of the Klinkhammer as well. I did well this past opening weekend with a size 18 tied to imitate the small Baetis. I know that the Klinkhammer is considered an emerging caddis imitation but the trout that took it didn't tell me if they were eating Baetis or the small dark caddis about at the time. I have tried to train them to hold up a little sign that says, "Hey stupid! Don't you see I'm eating caddis?!" or whatever, but they are not co-operating...I'll keep you posted. In college I once taught a rat to climb a ladder and ring a bell, but these damn trout are so damn stubborn!

I have been having some fun using different quills (turkey, goose, moose mane, pheasant) for the abdomen and like the Klinki I don't tie in a tail. I don't always use peacock for the thorax, but use dubbing instead.

The next part is just a musing from an odd ball angler, but...I know that scud hooks are very popular these days and folks feel that the emerging mayfly hangs below the surface like a suspended midge, but I think that in some cases the casting off of the nymphal shuck takes place more in a horizontal plane on top of the surface tension...I have watched emerging Brown Drakes (Sorry Gonzo I know this don't help me out of the nerd category) still stuck in their shucks and they are not curved like a scud but rather straight out lying on top of the meniscus...


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
JOHNWApril 30th, 2010, 1:27 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
I have limited experience with the Quig. but for me it always ends up riding with the wing projecting almost vertically from the water (provided I was very careful with my application of floatant.

As for the emerging bug shape thoughts I have noticed the same thing with Hendricksons on Penns Creek. FOr the nerd count one year I actually stopped fishing for 30 minutes to watch the phenomenom and yes the fish were actively feeding at the time.
The problem may be one of perspective and the physics of light through the meniscus. Since i watched the entire event from above water I can't speak to what Mr. Trout might actually be seeing and attempts to veiw the situaion from his pesrpective has led to pneumonia ;)

As for Hockey we don't have Junior A down here in Central PA but there is this little franchise of coco loving ursines that is on a tear and I'd rather watch a Gordie Howe hatrick than a pair of pasties any day .
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
OldredbarnApril 30th, 2010, 2:38 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2585

Go to and along the right side find their NBOC Videos on YouTube and look for the one about a hatching Hendrickson...It's pretty cool and somehow near the end he put the camera under water and you can see the bug in the "window".

Fuller's Lodge was once known as the Douglas Lodge and Ford & Edison fished out of there. A young couple purchased it a few years back after they put Annie Douglas in a nursing home and they have turned it in to a cool B&B.

Speaking of hockey...There is a crossroads town there that is called Lovell's and goes back to the logging days. There is a bar there called the Riverside Tavern or Lovell's Bar depending on who you ask...I watched my Wings win the Cup there one night back in 2002...I walked there from a cabin a mile or so away and brother I crawled home with a big smile on my face...

Downstream aways from the Douglas Lodge/Fullers is an area called Dam 4...They actually dammed the North Branch back then and a large lake would form behind the dam. It would freeze over and they placed the logs on the ice. Come spring they blew up the dam and washed the logs downstream...Can you imagine something like that happening now?!

John...Since you are one of those "PA Boys"...Did you know that Chauncey Lively had a place on the North Branch of the Au Sable before he passed in 2000, I think it was. I last saw him at the Angler's of the Au Sable 10th anniversary party in 1997...He was very patient with me as I tried to drag everything he knew out of him...He had this little smile that seemed to say, "Hey fella! You think I'm going to tell you everything you better think again...Go figure it out for yourself...It's more fun that way." Wow! Come to think of it he and Mr. Howe whom you mentioned are cut from the same stuff in my opinion...Giants among us mere mortals.


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood

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