Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Suspender Nymph 

Photos and Text by Andrew Susani

Hook #10 - #16 standard/medium shank nymph hook
Thread 6/0 black
Tail Cock hackle fibres
Body Brown, black or olive dubbing
Ribbing Fine copper wire
Wing case Dark turkey or crow feather
Float Styrofoam ball held in stocking or a small strip of foam for smaller patterns

In many ways, emerger patterns can be more effective than dry flies. Because they sit lower in the surface film, the fish are able to see them much more easily than a high floating dry. Emergers also act as a general imitation of a nymph coming through the surface ti hatch, so size is probably more of an issue than colour or shape. 

There are a lot of emerger patterns that work very well, but they have a few shortcomings: 1) they can be difficult to tie, particularly when dealing with parachute hackles and deer hair floatation systems; and 2) They can require a fair bit of attention to keep them floating - whether that be in the form of false casting them to dry them out, or by applying floatant to increase their buoyancy. Once the incursion of foam products into the field of fly tying took off, it presented a whole new way to tie flies that actually kept floating no matter how wet they got. Styrofoam was one of the best and cheapest of the foams, but the little balls were very fragile and tended to break up after a lot of casting or after a fish had a chew on one. I don't know who the original tier of this fly was, but they certainly came up with an interesting way to hold a styrofoam ball!

Tying Instructions

1. Start the thread at the bend of the hook. Tie in a few stiff fibres from a cock's feather for the tail, and a short length of fine copper wire for the ribbing. Try not to use heavy copper wire here as this will reduce the buoyancy of the fly.
2. Dub an abdomen as you would do for a normal nymph fly. 
3. Wind the copper wire evenly through the abdomen to form some segmentation.
4. Tie in a strip of turkey or crow feather and let it hang out the back of the fly.
5. Choose a styrofoam ball to suit the size of the fly and the desired buoyancy you're after (remember a larger ball will make the fly float higher and improve visibility for the angler). Put the ball in a thin brown stocking and pull the stocking tight around it. 
6. Carefully tie in the ball and stocking so that it is just above the eye of the hook. Remember to keep the stocking tight around the styrofoam ball as you are securing it to the hook.
7. Trim the excess stocking and build up a plump thorax with dubbing.
8. Make a small head of thread under the ball, behind the hook eye. Trim the wing case so it looks like the nymph has burst open the wing case and is about to expand it's wings. Whip finish the thread, varnish the head, and the fly is complete.


For the smaller versions of this fly, it is easier to use a small strip of bright foam (white or yellow) which can be trimmed to suit the size of the fly. Remember that the foam float also acts as a valuable indicator so you know where your fly is in fast water or in low light, so make sure it is either very bright, or reasonably large so you can keep track of the fly.