Years ago I used to think that if I had to rely on one nymph, it would be a Hare’s Ear in size 14. Damn good fly. Nowadays, however, I would pick something different. Which fly you ask? A bead-head caddis pupae for sure.
Look at the fly box above. The first four rows of flies on the left are all caddis pupae. I tied them on a Tiemco 2457 in sizes 10#-20#. It’s a very strong hook with the right curved shape. For a bead, I always pick tungsten over brass; tungsten really gets the fly down fast. It makes a difference, believe me. And I’m partial to these colored tungsten beads from The Montana Fly Company. They are marketed under the name “Lucent Beads“. I dub a body on some pupae, but I most often use copper wire instead. It’s easy to work with, makes a nice segmented body, and adds weight. Now I’m not talking about plain copper wire; I prefer bright red, hot orange, and light green.
Does the red and orange wire throw you for a loop? It shouldn’t. The red and orange pupae, especially in the smaller sizes, may be the deadiest flies of all. They’re pure magic.