The Super Pupa

Published Jul 21st 2013

With such a name a fly has to be good. And it is. The Super Pupa is a killer pattern! Different, simple to tie and very efficient.


Super Pupae

Back in 1977 Swedish fly-tyer and fly-angler Lennart Bergquist was fishing on the Norwegian river Rena together with Kenneth Boström, Jan Sekander, and Preben Torp Jacobsen - all of them grand old men in Scandinavian fly fishing as is Bergquist himself.

They spent some time studying hatching caddis, and Bergquist started developing a swimming caddis pupa that was supposed to imitate the pupae making their way towards the bank to hatch.

It took some years for the fly to find its final shape. In the beginning the imitations featured all the traits of the natural like wing buds and naturally positioned legs, but during the early 80's it took the much simpler form that it has now.

The final version of the fly has one main purpose: to imitate the impression that the pupa leaves in the water. It also has the colors of the natural, but its main strength is its very special shape. The shape of the fly doesn't immediately resemble any caddis pupa or any other natural for that matter, but its trimmed hackle and overall shape makes it leave an impression that the fish like. The hackle selected for the fly is typically larger than it would be for a similar dry fly with a full hackle. Bergquist himself recommends a hackle for one hook size larger than you are tying. I usually go for a hackle with barbs about 1.5-2 times the hook gap.

Bergquist simply named the fly "Floating Caddis Pupa", but a friend of his - Bengt Öste - tried it and realized its potential and dubbed it Superpuppan (sometimes spelled Superpubban) in Swedish - The Super Pupa. That has been the name of the fly ever since.

The story of the origin of the fly is told by Lennart Bergquist himself on the Swedish site Rackelhanan (in Swedish).
It's a very popular fly in Sweden and Denmark in particular, but has also found its way to the rest of Scandinavia as well as the UK. But apart from that the fly isn't found in many fly boxes, which is a pity when you consider its efficiency, how common caddis are and how easy and simple the fly is to tie.

Caddis water and caddis fishing

The Super Pupa
TypeDry fly
Lennart Bergquist
Year of origin
Target species
Brook trout
Brown trout
Rainbow trout (landlocked)

HookDown eye fine wire dry fly size 12-20 (Like Mustad 94833)
ThreadBlack, 8/0
HackleDark dun (grey) alternatively brown or grizzly
AbdomenGolden yellow dry fly dubbing (or color to match the natural)
ThoraxDull brown dry fly dubbing (or color to match the natural)

Step 1 - thread - Start the thread just behind the hook eye
Step 1 - thread
Step 2 - select hackle - Select a slighty oversized hackle - 1.5 times the hook gap
Step 2 - select hackle
Step 3 - tie in hackle - Strip the barbs from a piece of the hackle stem and tie it in over the hook bend
Step 3 - tie in hackle
Step 4 - hackle ready - The hackle is ready for wrapping - tied in pointing to the rear, shiny side out
Step 4 - hackle ready
Step 5 - yellow dubbing - Prepare a bit of yellow dunning. Not too much, we want a sparse body.
Step 5 - yellow dubbing
Step 6 - dub thread - Wind the dubbing onto the thread to create a thin noodle
Step 6 - dub thread
Step 7 - dub the body - Create a cylindrical abdomen. Leave a bit of space for the thorax
Step 7 - dub the body
Step 8 - brown dubbing - Prepare a bit of brown dubbing - just a bit
Step 8 - brown dubbing
Step 9 - dub thread - Twist the brown dubbing onto the thread
Step 9 - dub thread
Step 10 - thorax - Wrap the brown dubbing to form a short, dark thorax
Step 10 - thorax
Step 11 - wrap hackle - Start wrapping the hackle. Aim for 4-5 open turns.
Step 11 - wrap hackle
Step 12 - tie down - Tie down the hackle just behind the hook eye
Step 12 - tie down
Step 13 - trim hackle - Cut off the hackle surplus
Step 13 - trim hackle
Step 14 - form head - Pull back the hackle and form a very small head
Step 14 - form head
Step 15 - hackle ready - The hackle and head is ready
Step 15 - hackle ready
Step 16 - whip finish - Finish the thread with a whip finish. If you find the space tight, use a hollowed bodkin handle
Step 16 - whip finish
Step 17 - round hackle - The hackle is - of course - round
Step 17 - round hackle
Step 18 - trim hackle - Trim off the hackle fibers on top of the fly
Step 18 - trim hackle
Step 19 - flat top - The hackle fibers on top of the fly have been cut off
Step 19 - flat top
Step 20 - upside down - Turn the fly upside down
Step 20 - upside down
Step 21 - trim bottom - Trim the bottom fibers, leaving only hackle on the sides of the fly
Step 21 - trim bottom
Step 22 - flat bottom - The fly is now flat on the top and on the bottom
Step 22 - flat bottom
Step 23 - flat hackle - Here is the result - hackle on the sides, but not on the top or bottom
Step 23 - flat hackle
Step 24 - top view - The hackle creates two rows of parallel fibers on the sides of the fly
Step 24 - top view

Fishing the Super Pupa


The fly can be fished dry as any floating fly. It's a good floater thanks to the two rows of long hackle fibers. It lands perfectly 99% of the time, and treated with some floatant and dried off using an amadou patch or dry shake it can keep on floating for a long fishing session.
You can strip the fly to create a wake. It is after all an imitation of a swimming, hatching caddis pupa. The pupae will drift with the current, but make their way towards the bank, and fish can often be lined up close to the bank when such a hatch is going on. Bergquist notes that this particular swimming behavior isn't that well known and that it's rarely imitated, and he has also described some fine fishing where the Super Pupa was just dead drifted.

The fly is also known to work well as an attractor when no hatches are going on, and grayling in particular seem to be easily tempted by a Super Pupa passing over them.

My own personal successes with the Super Pupa has been on grayling waters where these beautiful fish seem to be willing to rise from quite deep water to engage with a dead drifted Super Pupa.

The Danish Konge Aa

User comments
From: will stone · whitetailwill·at·  Link
Submitted January 5th 2014

i fished the crackle back which is similar to the super pupa but not the same.the crackle has caught me alot of trout when nothing else would work on the river.i will be tying the super pupa,because of the close resemblance to the crackle and i know it will catch fish.looks like a killer pattern to me,thanks for the info.

From: George Meyer · grmeyer114·at·  Link
Submitted December 4th 2013

Gary Soucie' book Wooly Wisdom actually has this pattern ive tied and fished it here in Maine and done fairly well on local waters, definitely not the killer here in the states that it is in Scandanavia.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted July 24th 2013


On the surface they look the same, but Ed Story's fly uses white turkey for the body and has a back made out of peacock herl. The way the hackle stem contrasts the body to form a rib makes them look somewhat similar, but the hackle on Story's fly isn't trimmed, which is a very significant step here. Ed Story's fly is often called a "dry Woolly Worm", and looks more like that than it looks like this fly if you ask me.


From: Robert · rtauer·at·  Link
Submitted July 24th 2013

Very similar to the Storey Crackleback.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted July 22nd 2013


I'm very sorry about placing the Rena in Sweden! My bad...
It's been fixed, and the Rena is back in Norway.


From: Peter - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted July 21st 2013

Hei Martin,

The Rena is an Norwegian river in Hedmark.

Best regards, Peter

From: Björn Harnebrandt · harnebrandt·at·  Link
Submitted July 21st 2013

Rena river is in Norway.

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