I have often said that one of the main reasons fly tying is so compelling to so many is because it’s also so endless. No matter how long you tie or how wide the variety of your skill set, there is always something new to learn and play with. Emerger patterns by themselves could easily occupy an entire tying career, with endless variations and versions and I have to admit that I just love that!
I am often asked to explain just what exactly an emerger is and the answer is almost always long-winded and more complicated than it probably needs to be. As evidenced by the glut of emerger patterns available these days, there are a lot of different ways of going at tying these things and for the most part, they can all be quite effective because an emerger pattern is always but a snapshot of what really ought to be a motion picture. For our purposes as fly tyers and anglers, emergence is a process that takes place between the river bottom and the air throughout the entire water column, with the insect actually changing shape, profile and often color, as it nears the end.
As a mayfly or caddis “emerges”, it travels from the stream bottom to the surface and either there, or along the way, starts to shed its nymphal husk and emerge as the adult form of the insect. There are many pitfalls that can occur along this path and many insects become trapped in the surface film or even in their own shucks, don’t emerge completely and sometimes end up on or near the surface with a wing or abdomen trapped in said shuck and flip-flop endlessly trying to free themselves, and sometimes, they even sink back down into the water partially emerged, making a bit of a rewind factor come into play. Technically, these trapped and/or broken versions would be referred to as cripples (how we still get away with using that term these days is beyond me), although I still consider these as emergers as the process of emerging is what actually got them there. Now imagine videotaping this entire process, from the nymph leaving the stream bottom to the full-blown adult version potentially flying away off the surface…every frame of this film would be representative of an emerger pattern that would match that exact stage of the emergence, something that trout come into contact with every day and is easily recognizable to them. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have so many different yet effective emerger patterns to choose from! Ah yes, the wonders of nature and the endless opportunities it provides for both the trout and tyers!
The pattern I’ll tie here is something I’ve been working on for some time now and is meant as a generic mayfly emerger. Altering the colors and sizes makes it an effective representation of a host of different mayfly families, from baetis to Pale Morning Duns, Sulphurs, and even Green Drakes. Tied with a short CDC wing topped with a few luminescent strands of Flouro Fiber for a touch of movement imitating sparkle, a prominently ribbed and segmented abdomen and a widely split tail to aid in flotation when needed, the Juju Emerger borrows heavily from my Jujubaetis nymph pattern as well as the ubiquitous Colorado pattern, the RS-2.
I most often fish this pattern on a conventional nymphing rig with split shot or putty and under an indicator or line marker of some sort, in riffles and runs where fish stack up to pick of emerging insects on their trip of a lifetime, but have also fished it dry on the end of a long leader either solo or behind a slightly more visible dry fly like a Vis-A-Dun or Parachute Adams. The Juju Emerger will float well given its buoyant CDC wing and those split tails do indeed add surface area to keep the fly perched on the film. Those seemingly silly strands of shiny Fluoro Fiber add a good degree of visibility to the pattern when fished on top as well. This fly imitates but one frame of the emergence movie we talked about earlier and the variations on the theme can be endless. Longer or shorter wings, alternate coloring for the thorax and abdomen and wherein the water column you fish it will determine which frame you are representing and opens up a whole world of options…which is exactly why I will always love this game!