Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Tying the Shop Vac

My friends at Blue Ribbon Flies turned me on to this terrific general purpose nymph. I have used it in the mountain streams here in the east and the big rivers in the west. It is one of my favorite “go to” patterns.

Tying the Shop Vac.
Hook: Nymph (sizes 20-12)
Bead: Gold
Body: Zelon Pheasant Tail Dubbing
Rib: Copper wire (thin)
Wing: White Zelon










Step 1: Place a gold bead on the hook
Step 2: Attach thread and tie in gold wire behind bead.
Step 3: Wrap thread over wire to half way down the hook bend.
Step 4: Dub the body forward to just behind the bead.
Step 5: Reverse wrap wire forward to just behind the bead.
Step 6: Attach wing, by folding zelon over the thread and sliding it up behind the bead.
Step 7: Whip finish and trim the wings back to approximately the width of the hook gap.

Change bead color and wire color for variety.
Classic pattern uses real pheasant tail (4-6 fibers). Zelon dubbing is more durable.




  1. This pattern, as it is sold at BRF, is tied on a curved scud hook-Tiemco 2457 or 2487.
    I use Diiachi 1120 or 1130, #16,#18,#20.
    It IS akiller pattern…


  2. It surely is. I like the scud hook as well. The BRF flies are wonderful. I am a huge fan of theirs.

    I have also tied this without the bead on a #22. That was how i got the idea to try zelon. I was having trouble with the pheasant tail and had to improvise.

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