Here is a trout nymph that came from Montana.

I don’t know where I first heard of or saw the fly, but I tied up a couple just to see if they would work. It seems this is the way it always happens, but I never got the pattern in the water.

Recently, I received a call from John Sullivan, who guides on the Grande Ronde River. He asked if I had heard of a pattern called a Lightning Bug. I told him I had, and I had even tied a few.

Sullivan and another guide on the river had been looking for the pattern for quite some time but were unable to find it.

He said “great” when he learned I knew about it.

He asked what sizes I had. I told him I had it in size No. 6 and No. 8.

“Great,” he said again. “I will come to your house the next time I’m in town and get some from you.”

I couldn’t understand why Sullivan, a steelhead guide, would want trout flies. I was surprised to learn that such a small fly was being used to catch steelhead. Sullivan said the Lightning Bug was a hot pattern but unavailable in stores.

It turned out he was getting flies not only for himself but for a friend.

I now had an empty Lightning Bug box but a couple of happy guides. Soon after, Sullivan emailed to say the fly was working well, so I got busy and tied some more for his next visit.

But the cold weather intervened. Sullivan said the river is icing up, and he was canceling trips. Mother Nature seems to have her hand in a lot of business.

So I now have a few Lightning Bugs tied and ready for the next time I get to the river. Hopefully there will be more steelhead in the river when that trip happens.

The fly uses only four materials, counting the beadhead. It’s simple to tie, and if it’s as effective as the guides say, I’m excited to try it.

Tie up a couple of these hot flies and be ready when the ice clears, if it hasn’t already.

Last Lines

“Anglers are not born, they are made by circumstance, and sometimes it takes a long time to get the right circumstances together.”

— John W. Randolph

Lightning Bug

Hook — Curved hook. I used a Daiichi No. 1120 in sizes No. 6 and No. 8.

Beadhead — Gold cyclops bead.

Thread — Black 6/0 or 8/0. I prefer 6/0.

Tail — Fibers from a pheasant tail.

Body — 10 to 12 strand of pearl Krystal Flash. Purple, blue, red or green Krystal Flash can also be used.

Thorax — Ice Dub color caddis green.

Feelers — Strands of pheasant tail fibers on each side of the fly. These can also be called wings.


Pinch the barb, slide the beadhead on the hook shank and dress the shank with tying thread. Tie in a few strands of pheasant tail fibers. Tie in 10 to 12 strands of Krystal Flash. Twist the strands together and wrap them forward, forming the body. Dub the green Ice Dub, forming the thorax. Tie in a few strands of pheasant tail fibers on each side of the fly. The strands don’t have to be very long. Whip finish the fly in front of the thorax behind the beadhead. Head cement does not have to be used on this pattern.

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