One of the hottest nymph fly patterns on the market to date, Shafer’s 3-D nymph combines realism with proven attractor materials to create a fly that just flat out catches fish. Originated by Dave Shafer as a Green Drake nymph for use on the McCloud and Upper Sacramento rivers, the 3-D nymph has become a trout favorite all around the globe. The 3-D nymph can be tied in a wide variety of colors and sizes to represent all the major stonefly species. The 3-D nymph patterns in sizes 12-16 are useful for imitating the late summer stone species such as (Perlidae Agnetina and Perlidae Perlinella) which usually are present in small sizes and light colors. This fly can also be tied in the larger sizes such as 6-10, which imitate stones flies from the genus Pteronarcys. These stoneflies are unusually large and have a black to dark brown coloration. The Pteronarcys stones hatch anywhere from April to March making the large sized 3-D nymph a definite target for steelhead on their spring move up rivers.
To fish this fly a drag free drift is critical to your success. Early spring steelhead are notorious for being easily spooked and even the slightest bit of drag will set them off running. If fishing this fly in spring scaling down and lengthening your leader will help you get significantly more strikes. If you are planning on fishing this fly in summer adding a few timely strips of line near the end of the drift will bring the rubber legs to life, driving the rainbows wild. A good idea is to use short casts and to keep your rod high while drifting this nymph (high-stick nymphing technique) to aid in detecting strikes on these small 3-D summer stone patterns.
Start this fly by placing the gold bead over the hook point (small hole first) and up to the back of the hook eye. Place few wraps of the lead free weight onto the hook shank and push the weight up into the back of the bead.
Attach the thread to the hook shank and cover the weight with thread wraps until it is held in place securely. Wrap the thread down to hook shank until you reach a little past the 1/4 mark on the hook shank and hold here. Select a pair of black goose biots and tie them on to the hook shank so they point outwards slightly. A little tip is to place a small ball of dubbing on the hook shank and wrap the biots down with thread until they reach the dubbing ball and at this point the ball will push the biots out to the sides of the fly.
On the bottom of the hook shank wrap down a small 3 inch piece of gold wire and then a 5 inch section of black antron. Advance the thread to the back of the bead and proceed to wrap the antron forward up the hook shank. Try your best to create a nice even tapered body and finish at around the ˝ point on the hook shank.
Wrap the gold wire up the body of the fly in the opposite direction that the black antron was wrapped to make the body. Tie off the gold wire at the ˝ mark on the hook shank and clip the tag end. Select three one-inch strips of pearl flashabou and tie them down to the shank (extending towards the rear of the fly) with a half hitch. On a dark turkey feather fix a small section of the feather quills with some Dave’s flexament. Once the flexament has dried clip the section off the feather and wrap it down on the hook shank extending off the back of the hook. You will be pulling the turkey slip forward in later steps so make sure that you tie it good side down
Cut two 1 ˝ inch sections of the black rubber strips and tie one on to each side of the fly at the point where the lower body finished.
Tie down three peacock herls in front of the turkey slip and twist them into a bushy rope with your fingers. Wrap this herl rope up to the back of the gold bead creating a thick bushy thorax. The thorax that you just created should now have one rubber leg sticking out just behind the bead head and one sticking out where the lower antron body was tied off (two legs for each side of the fly).
Once you tie off the herl rope and clip the tag end, pull the turkey slip forward over the peacock body. Tie off the turkey quill at the back of the bead and then pull the pearl flashabou forward coving the turkey slip. Whip finish the thread and cement the head thoroughly before clipping the tag end of the turkey and flashabou.
8. Take the fly to you epoxy station and mix up a tiny batch of 5-minute epoxy. Place a thin coat of epoxy to the wing case of the fly and let it dry. When completely dry should be able to see the pearl flashabou strips shining through the epoxy casing.