timberline emerger

Tying the Timberline Emerger

Sometimes the simplest flies catch more fish. Al and Gretchen Beatty show how to tie modern versions of timeless wet flies. Here they show how to tie the Timberline Emerger.


Hook: Regular wet fly hook, sizes 18 to 8.
Thread: Gray 6/0 (70 denier).
Tail: Grizzly hackle fibers.
Body: Gray muskrat dubbing.
Rib: Pearl Krystal Flash.
Hackle: Grizzly.
Gas bubble: Pearl Krystal Flash.
Wing: Grizzly hackle tip.

Comments: Tie the gas bubble under the hackle wing. We call this loop of Krystal Flash a Flash Loop. You can also tie this component as a tail accent rather than as part of the wing. Even though we are tying the illus- trated pattern in Timberline Emerger colors, you can add a Flash Loop to almost any simple wet fly. This pattern comes out of the vise looking a little chewed up, and that’s just fine with the trout. When the fish are happy, so are we!

  1. Wrap a thread base on the front half of the hook shank; do not cover the space behind the hook eye with thread. Select a grizzly rooster or hen hackle containing fairly soft fibers; the fibers should be at least one size larger than the hook size. Strip the fuzzy mate- rial from the base of the stem. Tie the feather to the bottom of the hook with the tip pointing forward. Trim the butt end of the stem at a sharp angle in the middle of the shank. Leave the bobbin hanging one-quarter of the way from the hook eye.
  2. Wrap the hackle 3 1/2 times around the hook; note that we are wrapping the feather toward the back end of the shank. Hold the hackle up. Secure the feather using several wraps of thread. Continue holding the hackle tip up and back at a 45-degree angle. Wrap the thread toward the back of the hook. Make sure the feather tip stays on top of the shank.
  3. Continue binding the hackle to the hook shank; stop wrapping the thread opposite the point. Sharply snap the remaining feather tip toward the front of the hook; the excess piece of hackle should break off cleanly. Set this piece of feather aside for a future step.
  4. Place a piece of Krystal Flash on the bottom of the hook, and finish wrapping the thread to the end of the shank. The fibers remaining after snapping off the feather tip form the tail of the fly.
  5. Spin a pinch of gray dubbing on the thread and wrap a slender body. Spiral-wrap the Krystal Flash over the body to form the rib. Tie off the rib on top of the hook directly behind the hackle collar. Do not trim the waste just yet!
  6. Fold the Krystal Flash into a loop. Tie down the looped material behind the hackle collar. The loop can be as long or short as you wish; we make it no longer than the body. And don’t worry if the loop kinks a bit; it will reflect more light if it does. Carefully wrap the thread forward through the hackle.
  7. Brush the hackle fibers back. Wrap the thread on the base of the hackle to hold the fibers in place. Let the thread hang at the front of the hackle collar.
  8. Retrieve that little excess piece of hackle tip. Tie it to the hook as a flat wing extending long enough to reach the center of the tail. Trim the surplus butt end of the feather. Wrap a neat thread head. Whip-finish and snip the thread. Coat the head with a drop of cement.