Stonefly nymphs tied with chenille and rubber legs have a history going back more than 80 years. The first version is often credited to Frank McGinnis, whose Girdle Bug may have been fished on the Bighole River in Montana as early as the 1930s. The more recent Pat’s Rubberlegs is tied with variegated chenille and spandex legging material. The nicknames and variations of this pattern are many. But one thing is for sure – it’s as fishy as they come.
Like many fly tying materials, legging material can be the source of some confusion. The mental picture of Frank McGinnis cutting his legging material from undergarments is a good one (and where the girdle bug is said to have received it’s name). But for better or worse, today we have a much wider array of options to choose from.
Sexi Floss, Spanflex, Uni Flex, Fusion Foil Legs, Round Rubber Legs, Crazy Legs, Centipede Legs, Flutter Legs, Crusher Legs…is there really a difference and why does it matter? Excellent question. We’re glad you asked.
Some of these materials are very similar. But there are important differences. To avoid unnecessary complication, we can organize legging materials using three different qualities: size, flexibility and color. Shop all these legs at a glance.
First, choose a material with a size or diameter that’s appropriate for the pattern you wish to tie. Next, choose one with a suitable flexibility. For example, a hopper or adult stonefly pattern benefits from a stiff leg that will float high on the water. On the other hand, a streamer or stonefly nymph would benefit from a soft legging material that moves more freely in the water. Finally, it comes down to color. Between two materials that are otherwise equal, go with the color you like or the one that best imitates the bug.
How about chenille? Chenille is another fly tying material with a mind-boggling variety of options. For more on that, go see our previous blog post on the subject. For the purposes of this tying video, Ben is using Stonefly Chenille from Fly Fish Food. It’s a relatively thin chenille, perfect for streamlined stonefly nymphs.
Take a look at our fly tying video, as Ben Baxter demonstrates a unique variation of the popular Pat’s Rubberlegs:
Hook: Tiemco 5263
Thread: UTC 140
Pat’s Rubberlegs is a great searching pattern that can be fished year round. You can purchase them here in a variety of sizes and colors. If you found this video helpful, please take a moment to like it on YouTube and subscribe to the Anglers All Channel.
If you have questions or need help getting started, we’re here to help. Come see us at the fly shop in Littleton or call us at 303-794-1104. We’d be happy to help you get started tying your own Pat’s Rubberlegs! As a reminder, all phone and online orders can opt for free shipping or curbside pickup here at the shop.