June Fly of the Month: Sparrow Nymph

June Fly of the Month: Sparrow Nymph

Jack Gartside's Sparrow has been around for a long time.  Since long enough ago that I can remember tying them as a teen on my battered Thompson A vise.  The pin on the cam lever had snapped at one point so I simply jammed a nail or screw driver or whatever approximated the right diameter and continued turning out my crude attempts to pass for flies.  Those were the days of experimentation at the vise.  Whatever fanciful pattern graced the cover of American Fly Tyer or got a write up in Fly Fisherman magazine became my latest project.  I'd ask my mom to drop me off at the Royal Coachman or Green River Fly Shop and I'd whittle away the hours seeking advice and carefully selecting the tying materials I couldn't live without.  Most of those project flies gradually disappeared from my fly box over the years, faded from disuse and inconsistent results.  I'd replace them with newer, seemingly more attractive patterns that if nothing else, made for better eye candy.  Afterall, flies catch anglers as much as they do fish.

After several decades of fishing flies and periodically culling my fly boxes, I've noticed a handful of patterns that have maintained a more or less permanent row in the lineup.  The Sparrow is one of them.  The Sparrow was originally designed as a buggy, "Jack of all trades" sort of pattern.  You can fish it as a streamer or dead drift it as a nymph.  I've even heard tale of folks greasing them with floatant and fishing them on the surface as a hopper or crane fly imitation.  I've always been attracted to simplicity and versatility.  Despite the fact that I probably have at least 10,000 flies spread between 60 plus boxes for various fish and fisheries, I am really enamored with the idea of just fishing the same half dozen flies everywhere I go and letting them work their magic.  If I ever do accept that challenge, the Sparrow might well make the lineup.

As it stands, I primarily fish the Sparrow as a streamer in lakes and sometimes rivers.  It has a profile that's highly suggestive of leeches, dragonfly nymphs or even small baitfish.  Few materials are as natural and buggy as pheasant rump and the aftershaft or filoplume feathers at the head of the fly and marabou tail add a tremendous amount of movement to the pattern.  For the body, I'll change up the dubbing, sometimes using angora goat, sometimes a soft fur like rabbit, but my favorite is still Ice Dub for a little sparkle and shine.  The Sparrow is most definitely a pattern worth tying and although there's no shortage of really productive new flies out there that also fish well, it still punches well above its weight.


Sparrow Nymph Recipe:
Tail: Medium Olive Bloodquill Marabou
Flash:  Olive Krystal Flash
Body: UV Olive Brown Ice Dub
Hackle: Natural Pheasant Rump
Head: Natural Pheasant Rump Aftershaft Feather



Confluence Beer Pairing:  As essential as the Sparrow fly is to my stillwater box, I thought Matchless Brewing's Essential Beer would make a fine companion at the tying bench or while intently stripping a Sparrow along the fishy edge of a shoal.   This fine elixir out of Tumwater, WA is another smooth easy drinking Hoppy Lager that goes down especially well during the longest days of the year.


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