Legs. Lots and Lots of Legs.

What do you do when you’re stuck at home with a sick kid, a wild puppy, and a pile of hooks? Get busy tying. Time to fill up those gaping holes in the fly boxes with the workhorse patterns for the season. If you spend any time in the freestone rivers of western Montana, that means rubberlegs and lots of them. Whatever you call it – Pat’s Rubber Leg, Jimmy Leg, the Pickle, or even the Turd – there isn’t a guide on the river that doesn’t carry a fistful of these at all times of the year.

Trim them up or add a knot and leave them long and jointed, I don’t care. Just make sure you’ve got a
grip of rubber legs in your pack before you head into your season.

This fly doesn’t fly off the vise, but it comes pretty damn close once you master the tricky task of tying in all those legs and getting them uniform. There are two main things I do with the legs, trim them down, or tie a knot using my bobbin and leave them long and wiggly. While trimming them down makes for a pretty fly and is more akin to the length of the actual legs of a stonefly nymph, long and knotty makes for a damn sexy bug with a whole lot of shake in her legs. Give them both a try, and see which you and the fish prefer.

A third trick that I consider the real “experimental” style, though it makes an awesome and effective bug, is harder to get the hang of. Leaving the legs long, I stretch them out and swipe a line of brushable crazy glue across them. When you let go of the leg, the glue will set and kink the rubber leg into an easy, bendy joint. Really cool looking, but hard to master just the right amount of “pull” per leg and how much glue.

Trout like the rubber legs in all flavors and sizes. Shown here are some varieties in sizes 6-10,
in chenille in shades of olive, black, brown and ginger. 

Far and way, the most popular color of this fly is brown, with tan legs in sizes 4-8. I tie on a size 6 in whatever prevalent color of the hatch is most days when searching with nymphs. When the salmonfly hatch is near, an orange and black or brown is a great lead fly on your nymph rig. Before runoff, I like a smaller olive variety for the skwalla nymphs that will be moving around come March. And if all else fails, a big, nasty black bug will get you down to the deep trenches any day of the year, and might dredge up a fish on the way back up. Got some bins to fill, and a bird dog puppy to keep from eating through my tying supplies but in the meantime, I’m tying rubber legs for the foreseeable future.  Wake me up when the fish are biting.


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