Published Nov 26. 2009 - 14 years ago
Updated or edited Dec 14. 2015

Para-Hackle Emerger

Effective anglers carry a myriad of emerger-style flies to take picky trout during hatches. While there are many styles of emergers to choose from, para-hackle style flies may not come to mind first. Tying emergers para-hackle style is a forgotten technique not often taught and even fished less. We at GFF can't understand why!?! Read along as GFF partner Steve Schweitzer walks you through the

A pair of Para-Hackle Emergers. Endless variations exist just by changing the hook thickness (for extra sink), the color of the thread, the dubbing and the hackle. Here, (L) a darker bodied PHE with dun hackle imitates a BWO emerger, whereas another version (R) has a lighter olive body with darker hackle that might imitate a drake.

The materials are simple and inexpensive. A hackle, any post material (yarn works fine) Stretch-Magic and some dubbing is all that is needed to create this effective fly.

What's Old is New

Para-hackles aren't new, but the technique sometimes gets forgotten or isn't taught frequently enough. This article aims to re-introduce this very effective technique of using dyr fly hackle to create an emerger halo-style fly. This particular way of tying the emerger, with Stretch-Magic as the body, creates an ultra-durable fly that will withstand many toothy fish.


Hook a 1x-2x heavy wire curved nymph hook
Thread your choice (golden olive used in this example)
Ribbing 0.5mm Stretch Magic
Body thread underbody
Para-Wing oversized dry fly hackle (Whiting Farms grizzly dyed olive used in this example)
Thorax Ice-Dub (light peacock used in this example)

Step 1

Preparing the Body
Tie the Stretch-Magic material in, starting at the 1/3rd point on the hook and secure the material back to just above the hook barb point on the hook shank. If you stretch the material backward as you tie it in, you'll find it will tie in slightly easier.

Tying in the Stretch-Magic.

Wrapping the thread over the Stretch-Magic back to the bend of the hook gives bulk that is needed to make the emergent body.

Over-wrapping the Stretch-Magic with a thread base for color.

Slightly stretching the Stretch-Magic as you wrap it forward will create a thinner body, allowing it to remain slack as it is wrapped forward will create a thicker body.

Wrapping the Stretch-Magic foward to the hook eye to protect the thread base and to create the illusion of a segmented transparent emergent body.

Step 2

Preparing the Para-Hackle Post
Select a small strip of yarn, maybe a quarter or a third of a hank of poly-yarn. This will be the post for the para-hackle. Be sure not to create a post that is too thick. It's better to err on the side of "thin".

Selecting a small strip of yarn for the para-post.

Tie the post material in at the 1/4 point on the hook-shank.

Step 3

Tying the Para-Hackle Wing
Select a hackle that is large for the hook size you are tying. So, for a #14 hook, select a #10 or #12 feather. Strip the end marabou, exposing the stem and trim to leave just about an 1/8th of an inch remaining.

A prepared hackle ready to wrap.

Tie the stripped hackle stem along the hookshank and then up the yarn post with just a few wraps of thread. The feather should be in the position shown in the photograph.

Wrap the hackle up the yarn about a distance equal to half the body length of the fly. Then, wrap the hackle downward back to the hook shank, as shown in the photo. Don't be afraid to over-hackle on this fly, contrary to what is taught for traditional dry fly hackling. A few extra turns of hackle will pay off when creating the "parachute" effect.
Tie off the stem of the hackle in front of the post and para-hackle. You may have to pull/stroke the hackle out of the way for a moment to tie off...this is perfectly acceptable.

An over-hackled para-hackle post ready for creating the para-hackle effect.

Pull all the hackle backwards to the back of the fly as shown in the photo. Ensure you have most all hackle trapped between your thumb and forefinger. Keep the pinch tight, not letting go for this step and the next.

Now, grasp the top of the para-post and while holding the hackle in place, pull the yarn post downward and tie off in the same manner as you tied off the hackle: in front of the hackle-post and down across the hook-shank.
Once tied off, trim the excess post material and hackle. No hackle should be below the hook shank. The hackle should now be shaped in a fan, or parachute, as seen in the next photo.

Step 4

Finishing the fly
Apply a sparse amount of dubbing to the tying thread, just enough to make about 4-5 wraps in a "figure-8" fashion under and around the para-hackle post.

Applying dubbing to the emergent insect imitation.

Bring the thread forward to the hook eye and tie off. Apply a touch of tying cement to make this fly extremely durable.

A finished Para-Hackle Emerger

A top view of a finished Para-Hackle Emerger.

Fishing Techniques

Fishing a para-hackle fly is like fishing most any other emerger. This fly tends to be more effective when fishing during the beginning of a hatch of mayflies - this is when trout tend to key on the emergers over adults or nymphs. Some anglers prefer to paste the hackle with floatant, which is a fine way to ensure the hackle truly acts like a "parachute", essentially holding the fly in the surface film of the water. This technique is also very effective when fishing faster water or pocket water, where short quick casts may tend to push the fly into the water, which isn't the intended way to fish this fly. However, don't be bashful about sinking this fly and fishing it under the water surface...sometimes this is just the ticket for picky trout.

Angler Richard Ross fishes a para-hackle in one of many productive pocket waters on Roaring River in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Tied the fly On Satu...

Tied the fly On Saturday to try on Sunday, two nice rainbows, not bad considering the time of year, cant wait to use them in spring thanks Jan Johansen

Very inspiring. Than...

Very inspiring. Thanks!

I love this pattern ...

I love this pattern and the way you've tied it. Thanks.

I alway like to see ...

I alway like to see a pattern with fishing techniques included. Many times the success of a pattern is made by the tyer fisherman, not just the tyer or fisherman. Thank you, Jim

i like the last sent...

i like the last sentence! this gives a very clear meaning - you need to feel and control your fly i mean control with your bloody boddy
. another perfect fly
all the best


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