Fishing with Emergers

Playing With Emergers: CDC Style

Author: Gareth Lewis

For the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with a few emerger designs, both for my own fishing, and to offer clients via my usual fly orders or during my guided trips. The amount of time I now spend behind the vice has risen ten-fold, so it’s important that my ‘guiding patterns’ are quick and easy to tie whilst, at the same time, offer my clients a robust and quality tied product. They also pass the test as, all of the flies I offer for orders or during guided trips, I also use myself; so they’re kind of ‘Guide Approved’…so to speak.

The tweaks I’ve mentioned above have been applied to three patterns featured below – the Chironomid Emerger, Basic Baetis Emerger, and the Reversed CDC Olive Emerger.

Chironomid Emerger

Hook: Varivas 2200BL-B, size #18
Thread: Sheer Ultrafine 14/0, black
Shuck: Krystal flash
Wing: 3x CDC feathers
Thorax: Squirrel, lightly dubbed

I’ve been fishing and tying the Chironomid Emerger pattern (pictured below) a lot over the last five/six years, and it’s simplicity of tying and fish catching ability always draws a smile to my face when I see a fish rise to it. I believe I have tweaked the design as much as I can, and I’m very happy with both the way it looks and, more importantly, the way fish think it looks. This simple pattern requires just four simple ingredients (three if don’t count the tying thread), and is a great pattern for when fish are feeding on chironomids (non-biting midge of the Diptera order). The slim profile allows it to pierce (and sit in) the film, while the combination of CDC, spiky squirrel dubbing, and Krystal flash add stability and floatability.

I fish this pattern in sizes from #18 down to #24 and, during the times when the water is carpeted with midge, I’ll opt for the larger, more eye-catching, size #18. The smaller ‘micro’ #24s are kept for the spookier fish and work really well in our current ‘low water climate’ with light fly lines and tippers. They also lend themselves fantastically to winter fishing for grayling; when the air temperatures rise just enough, you’ll often see a hatch of midges in the coldest of winters, and this is the time to quickly swap those heavy bugs for a long tapered leader loaded with a chironomid emerger.

Chironomidae (aka, the non-biting midge)…

Olive/Baetis Emergers

I’ve been left with a hole to fill in my guiding fly boxes or, more specifically, I needed an emerger pattern to imitate the emergence stage of blue winged olives, large dark olives, olive uprights, pale wateries, etc. With this in mind, I set out to tie a design which would hold the correct triggers whilst still allowing me to tie a large batch in a relatively small time. I also wanted a design which would allow me to represent a range of baetis, and this pattern does just that; simply change your colours, and you have a different imitation (not that colour matters all that much, but that’s a discussion for another time…).

Large Dark Olive (Baetis Rhodani, female)


Large Dark Olive (Baetis Rhodani, male)

Basic Baetis Emerger

Attempt #1 was the below ‘Basic Baetis Emerger’, which holds true to the basic profile of any nymph of the Baetidae family. Whether the tails will matter all that much is yet to be seen, however, I’ve classed them as a trigger on this pattern, so we’ll leave them there for now.

Hook: Partridge Klinkhammer 15BN, size #18
Thread: Sheer Ultrafine 14/0, brown
Wing: 4x CDC feathers
Tails: Microfibbets, olive
Abdomen: SLF Masterclass, #2 (Baetis Green Olive)
Rib: 4lb tippet material
Thorax: SLF Masterclass, #1 (Baetis Brown Olive)
Thorax cover: Shellback, dark brown

Reversed CDC Emerger

Attempt #2 was for a smaller pattern which would lend itself to targeting spookier fish. The ‘reverse’ design of a number of emerger patterns has worked well in burying the tippet either in or below the surface film, so it was with this idea that I based the below generic olive emerger. I’m a huge fan of tying and fishing with CDC, as it lends itself well to floatability and dries easily and quickly when treated with a desiccant powder.

A slim, ever-so-slightly tapered body was needed with gentle segmentation, followed by a scruffier thorax, and maybe a thorax cover too; although whether the latter point has any fish-pulling capabilities, I don’t know, but it looks nice to me. This pattern is able to represent an emerging baetis nymph or, in smaller sizes, an emerging midge.

Hook: Partridge K14ST (Oliver Edwards Nymph Emerger), #18
Thread: Sheer Ultrafine 14/0, brown
Wing: 4x CDC feathers
Abdomen: SLF Masterclass, #2 (Baetis Green Olive)
Rib: 4lb tippet material
Thorax: SLF Masterclass, #1 (Baetis Brown Olive) with a pinch of dark olive seals fur
Thorax cover: Shellback, dark brown

Reversed CDC Emerger (#18) – Rear View

Over the next week I will be tweaking the Basic Baetis and Reversed CDC Emerger a little further as, after a few hours away from the vice, I’ve had a fresh re-think about the patterns; with a removal of a couple of ingredients, and the addition of one or new materials, I think I’m nearly there.

Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply