There are some flies that just have an inherent ‘fishiness’ about them. The Gold Rib Hare’s Ear is one of those flies. A non-descript, buggy compilation of fur and feathers, the Hare’s Ear won’t win any beauty contests but is one of those flies that you may never want to be without.
While I know I won’t win any originality awards by demonstrating the Hare’s Ear, its purpose here is twofold.
You may not know it now, but the Hare’s Ear encompasses virtually all the parts of a standard nymph as well as traditional proportions. We will learn to measure and tie in tails, cut and blend dubbing fur, wrap a rib, dub a tapered abdomen, tie in and fold a wingcase, dub a thorax and form a thread head all on this one simple fly.
The kicker to all this is that once you learn these procedures, you’ll have all the skills to tie a huge variety of nymphs. When you really boil them down, there is a whole group of flies that are tied exactly like the Hare’s Ear, simply using different materials, so even if you’re not fond of the Hare’s Ear itself, for your own good, tie a few to become familiar with the techniques and proportions.
In addition to all of these techniques, you’ll learn to tie the legendary Hare’s Ear, which wouldn’t be so bad even if you didn’t learn anything else in the process.
While the Hare’s Ear is not a perfect match for anything, it looks a little like a lot of things. I like to use Hare’s Ears in large sizes (6-12) as a simple stonefly nymph pattern, tied in both light (natural, bleached or dyed gold) and dark (black, brown and olive) color schemes and in smaller sizes to match anything from callibaetis in lakes to green drake nymphs in rivers. I simply alter the color and size to match the insect I have in mind. This flexibility is one of the reasons the Hare’s Ear enjoys such popularity.
I use hen saddle feathers for the tail of this fly rather than the guard hairs from the ears of a hare’s mask for the reasons that they are much easier to work with and make a better-looking tail.
I also use real hare’s mask fur cut from the mask of a real English Hare. Jackrabbit and cottontail won’t cut it here; they’re a whole different critter, as are the commercially packaged dubbings that come labeled as ‘Hares Ear’. Most of this stuff is plain old rabbit fur and doesn’t have the short guard hairs inherent to the dubbing from the mask. The mix of nicely marked guard hairs and soft underfur from the hare’s mask creates a perfectly buggy dubbing that is still easy to apply.
When tying the Hare’s Ear, keep the proportions in mind, as they are the foundation for many other nymphs. Tie some large and some small ones, thin and fat and an array of colors. This fly will teach you a variety of techniques and fill your fly box at the same time.