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Brooks Stonefly - Charlie Brooks(Deceased)

David Bell

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Often, older patterns are as or very effective than some of the more realistic patterns. I very much appreciate this pattern. It has caught trout from Wyoming and Colorado to Wisconsin and Michigan and down to the midwest streams of Missouri and Arkansas. I used it for steelhead on Lake Michigan as well. I have used 4 color variations, one for the large Golden stone, this one for the large black, and varied off to brown and more olive

mixes of dubbing. It was the latter that caught steelead in Wisconsin, especially Door County Penninsula.

The think I like about the pattern is simplicity to tie, it's durability. Brooks believed that trout "can't count" and the image of the fly vs. realism was more important, especially for an insect tumbled in current. I am not knocking any other pattern but this particular one has been very effective in my flyfishing. I wouldn't be without it, tied say, sizes 4-10, weighted heavily or slighly depending on water being fished, etc. The smaller pattern does the same thing as the Prince Nymph or the brown.

This is the variation of the Brooks stonefly that I tied...you can find this in the book, "Larger Trout for the Western Flyfisherman" by Charlie Brooks, or in Jack Dennis' :Western Trout Flytying Manual".

I altered the pattern to fit materials at hand and one of the two styles of aptterns that Brian carries. Due to high water, a heavy fly was absolutely necessary.

Size 4 or 6 hook - I used common Mustad streamer hook, 9672, but Tiemco 200R

would also be good. For this pattern though, I prefer the


Weight: cone or bead head or lead weight appropriate to the size of hook.

tails: I used a dark green forked quills

abdomen: Peacock Herl with gold wire ribbing(I used pretty heavy wire to

show through the herl)

Abdomen: either black or very dark greenish black dubbing.

Gills: Ostrich herl, white or gray

legs: Gray and grizzly mixed or just gray hackle. (pull one side of hackle

from stem).

tie in the tail, attach wire and then peacock herl, wrapping it forward to the bead-head...over wrap with wire for segmentation.

tie in the ostrich herl and feather(s).

dub the thorax. I think the best combo was very dark black fur. I mixed in some extremely dark green as well but not sure that it made any difference...the color of this was darker than the peacock herl anyway. two tones to the body work in most cases.

Wrap the feather for legs, for the length of the thorax and tie off behind the bead.

Over-wrap that reverse to the feather with the ostrich herl...this helps trap air bubbles and adds life to the pattern as well as making the thorax section of the life more durable--wiggle the herl as you pass it around the thorax to keep from pinning down the feather fibers...the ostrich herl providing strength to the pattern.

Charlie Brooks believed in strong patterns and used a lot of glue during each step of his fly construction.

Here is his pattern list:

hook 4010, 9672 Mustad

thread: Black Mono

weight: Underbody, lead wire (or substitute beadhead)

tails: Goos Quill-Black or gray...

Body: Black Fuzzy yarn

ribbing: Brown dyed flat nylon Monofilament

Gills: white or light gray ostrich herl

legs 1 grizzly and 1 brown dyed grizzly

Generally construct as I highlighted above.

Best regards, David Bell

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Charlie Brooks' Stonefly Nymph pattern is an excellent one, and David is right on about "suggestive" patterns vs. highly imitative ones. This is probably most true with stone fly nymphs because they live in mostly faster rocky water. Fish have a lot less time to inspect them in fast water, so they quickly recognize size, shape and color and either eat it or not.

Another thing about Charlie's flies is they were not pretty. In fact they were what I would call scruffy. This was always interesting to me because most fly fishermen of those days that wrote books about flies and tying usually were pretty good at the vise. Charlie knew very well what it took to tie "suggestive" flies and he caught a lot of trout. One look at some of his flies in one of his books and you'll see what I mean. He also used some interesting materials for some of his patterns. I have skinned and shaved a lot of hair and feathers from a lot of different critters, but I could never bring myself to skin or shave a skunk. Charlie had one pattern called a skunk hair caddis. I've still never tied one.

In the summer of 1972, my father and I met Charlie at Bud Lilly's Trout Shop in West Yellowstone. As we were walking around in awe of all the pics of big fish in the shop (our first trip to fish that area), we noticed an older man dressed in camo clothing that looked like he just came in from deer hunting. He walked up to us and asked if he could help. We started asking questions about the area and he asked where were from. When we told him southern MO, he lit up like a Christmas tree and said he was from that area, too. This initiated a friendship that proved very helpful for fishing the Yellowstone area.

Charlie was raised somewhere near the Current River and had a great love for our Ozarks. He was a very nice guy, and will long be remembered for his interestingly different flies and fishing techniques that has caused a lot of fishermen to think a little differently about how to catch trout.

Bill Butts

Springfield MO

"So many fish, so little time"

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