Tying Charles Jardine's Stillwater Nymphs

By Mike Hogue

During the 1999 Gatlinberg FFF Conclave, I had the chance to be one of Charles Jardine's students in a class on Tying Flies For Stillwater. When signing up for the class I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I wasn't sure whether I would be tying a boat load of Black Pennell's or some gaudy wet tied on a size 4 hook. Needless to say, I was very impressed with both the design, approach and style used by Charles. I had a very wonderful time learning some new flies and in the process I made a new friend.

During the first part of the class Charles went to great pains to explain that he was British NOT Austrialian and that reguardless of what we had heard from The Reverand Robert Spaight, that he could really catch many larger fish. After promptly bashing me and my high tech tying tools ( ie my Perry Hook Bowl, AK Best Vise and the Original John Faust Quick Stack) we proceeded on by examining how to make more effective stillwater flies for trout.

A good part of our early demonstrations were studying close-up slides which Charles made of insects common to stillwater in the UK. Chief to his findings were several things he felt were missed in the designs of 2 primary insects. In studying damsels nymphs, Charles discovered that the younger damsel nymphs are actually yellow and the bodies of the real bugs tend to wiggle and undulate. In designing a damsel nymph , the design needs to mimic these actions and colors.

In examining close-up pictures of midge larva, Charles felt several primary things are missing: wing buds are almost always orange and the bodies of the larva have mixed colors which range from claret to red to orange. By studying these features, Charles created some unique patterns which solve several problems which many tyers have not considered.

Part 1: Tying Better Damsel Nymphs

In tying damsel nymphs, Charles feels there are several very critical things. Of most importance is the use of seal's fur. Charles feels that seal's fur has a translucent quality not found in any other material. This quality allows light to pass through, creating features which he feels are very attractive to fish. In preparing dubbings, Charles likes to mix several colors together to rather than using one solid color. The damsel blend he prefers is a mix of light olive, yellow, a bit of rust and a small bit of claret and orange.

The tails Charles uses are made of stripped marabou from very large plumes. Charles prefers to select sections which will pulsate and move to create the proper action.


Tying the Bead Head Damsel:

Hook: Kamasan B830, size 8

Thread: 6/0 Black

Bead: 1/8" gold

Tail: Light Olive Marabou fibers 3 to 4 times the length of the hook shank.

Rib: Oval Gold Tinsel

Body: Seal's fur mix of olive, rust, claret, orange

Collar: One turn of Yellow Partridge behind sparse rust seal's fur.

Charles feels this fly is an easy, simple pattern which is very effective. He prefers to tie a modifed version of the Whitlock damsel.

The Swiss Straw Damsel:

Hook: Kamasan B830, size 8

Thread: 6/0 Black

Eyes: Brown Carp Bait Holders ( use burnt mono )

Tail: Light Olive Marabou fibers 3 to 4 times the length of the hook shank. With a few strands of Olive Crystal Flash added on each side.

Body: Seal's fur mix of olive, rust, claret, orange

Wing Pad and Back: Yellow Swiss straw.

Legs: Yellow Partridge tied across the back and below the straw.

This fly is basically a modified version of the Whitlock damsel. The swiss straw is not tied across the back but used as a wing pad and across the eyes. For extra protection and to improve durability, Charles uses a coating of Softex to prevent the straw from fraying. The picture at the left is a close up of the head.




The Nomad:

Charles mentioned this fly as one of the UK's most popular new patterns. While this fly matches nothing in particular, it is an effective pattern in stillwater. As an alternative, many tiers use Black Peacock colored micro ice chenille and a Black Marabou tail.

Hook: Kamasan B830, size 8

Thread: 6/0 Black

Bead: 3/32nd Gold, tied in the mid-section of the hook

Tail: Dark Olive or Black Marabou fibers 3 to 4 times the length of the hook shank.

Body/ Rear Section: Olive or black peacock micro ice chenille

Body / Fore Section: Flo Orange Floss.

Not too much to this fly. Slide the bead on the hook with the wide part forward ( backwards if you will ). Tie the tail in. Wrap the chenille. Slide the bead back against the chenille. Start the floss in front of the bead and wrap making a tapered body in front of the bead.

Part 2: Tying Better Midge Patterns for Stillwater

In creating new patterns for midges, Charles began experimenting with several new products such as Flexi-Floss and Holographic tinsel. By blending several new products together, Charles created some very interesting new midge patterns. While these patterns are larger than many of our midges, you can make the same patterns on a smaller scale. These patterns are just as effective when used on streams or rivers for trout.

The Holographic Midge Larva:

Hook: Red Jardine Scud / Larva Hook, size 12

Thread: 8/0 Red

Body: Small Red Holographic Tinsel

Rib: Red Flexi-Floss

Head: Red Glister Dubbing


The unfortunate thing about this fly is that it makes use of several materials we don't have in the US. As far as I know the only red hooks available in the US are Daichi which are shaped like the TMC 200R not like the scud hook above. The dubbing Charles uses is called Glister ( marketed by Veniard's ) and it is similar to Lite Bright or shredded Angel Hair. I think if you used red antron for the dubbing, this would work fine. The main feature is the segmented body. Try making the body with various colors of pearl flashabou or use thread, then pearl then rib with Flexi-Floss for the same effect.

The Flexi-Floss Midge Larva:

Hook: Jardine Scud / Larva Hook, size 12

Thread: 8/0 Black

Body: Claret Flex-Floss

Rib: White Flexi-Floss Split in Half

Wing Buds: Orange Flexi-Floss

Thorax: Same as Body, Wrap several times to make fuller

This is a very realistic looking fly. It is not a hard pattern to master. Start by splitting a strand of white Flexi-Floss. Do this by sticking a dubbing needle in the center to split the strand. Wrap the body and then the rib. Tie in 2 strands of orange Flexi-Floss in the mid section of the hook on each side. Correctly tied the strands will form a 'V" with the wide part extending to the rear. Over wrap the throax several times and form the head. If you pull really hard on the Flexi-Floss, it will shrink in size and still draw down nicely.

Jardine's Biot Midge Adult:

Hook: Kamasan B410, size 16-22

Thread: 14/0 Black

Body: Black Turkey Biot quill

Rib: Fine Silver Wire

Wings: Dun Colored Turkey Biot

Thorax: Sparse Peacock Glister Over 2 Dun CDC Oiler Puffs

This is not a hard fly to tie, although the wing and is a bit crowded. Make the body, attach 2 biots for the wing, tied as a trude wing. Select 2 Oiler Puff CDC feathers, lay feathers back to back. Lay the feathers on top of the hook shank, tie with the stems facing over the front of the eye of the hook. Gently pull on the stems of the CDC until the tips of the feathers are just covering the front of the wings. Clip off the stems of the CDC. Wrap sparse dubbing around the CDC to form the head. The Glister Dubbing can be subed by using Antron, Lite Brite or other sparkle dubbings.

Thanks to Charles Jardine for some nice flies and a really neat class. BTW where is my set of Glister Dubbings Charles?


Email: Mike@eflytyer.com

For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946