HIgh and Dry


How to tie two must-have dry flies: the Stimulator and the G&H Sedge.

[by Barry Clarke]

AMERICAN FLY TIER RANDALL KAUFMANN created the original Stimulator, and it remains a popular dry fly across North America. Originally tied to imitate the adult giant stonefly, under the right conditions it also works as a grasshopper and caddisfly.

A well-dressed Stimulator is perfect for fishing rough, fast-flowing water. You can easily see this pattern at a distance and it floats like a cork. A Stimulator is versatile, and although it looks difficult to tie, it is relatively easy to make. It’s all about using the proper proportions of materials.


Hook: Curved-shank terrestrial/
nymph hook, sizes 12 to 6.
Thread: Fine gel spun.
Tail: Spirit River UV2 elk hair.
Body: Golden yellow Antron floss.
Body hackle: Golden badger or furnace.
Wing: Spirit River UV2 elk hair and
golden yellow Krystal Flash.
Thorax: Golden stone dry-fly dubbing.
Hackle: Grizzly.

Tie the Perfect Stimulator

You can imitate most adult stoneflies by varying the hook size and color of ingredients. If you want to include even more triggering features, or if you intend fishing it as a grasshopper, add rubber legs to your Stimulator; this is similar to tying a pattern called the Madam X.

Even without rubber legs, the Stimulator is a great attractor pattern; fish it when most other patterns fail. Use the same presentation as when fishing with a caddisfly; streak the Stimulator over the water’s surface, especially on windy days. A Stimulator floats well on rough water, but on calmer drifts, trim the hackle on the underside so that it floats a little lower in the surface, and strip it hard with short pauses through the surface over possible fish lies.

Using good elk hair is an advantage when tying the wing and tail on the Stimulator. Deer hair won’t sit right as the wing and tail, and it will usually create an incorrect profile on the finished fly. Coarser, longer elk hair doesn’t flare as much as deer hair, and it flows nicely with the terrestrial curved-shank hook.

The Stimulator also has more dry-fly hackle than most other patterns. It is a long fly with a spiral-wrapped body hackle and tightly wound hackle collar. Use the best dry-fly hackle you can afford: Whiting Farms, Metz, Keough, or a comparable brand. These feathers have the length and volume of fibers you will need for tying a nice Stimulator.


Hook: Long-shank dry-fly
hook, sizes 12 to 6.
Thread: Fine gel spun.
Body: Late-season deer hair,
natural or dyed brown.
Hackle: Badger or brown

Making the G&H Sedge

In addition to tying the Stimulator, we will also make a pattern called the G&H Sedge. This fly was first published in John Goddard’s book titled The Super Flies of Stillwater. The G&H Sedge, which stands for the Goddard & Henry Caddis, is a modern classic developed by John Goddard and a well-known British angler named Cliff Henry.

The Stimulator and G&H Sedge are two patterns you must add to your fly box. They are versatile imitations of stoneflies, caddisflies, and even grasshoppers.

Barry Clarke is a regular contributor to this magazine. Follow his terrific tying photos and instructions, and you will learn to make better flies that catch fish. To see more photos of his flies and much more, check his blog, www.thefeatherbender.com. Barry lives in Norway.