36 - Fly tying made easy: The Quill Emerger

Fly tying made easy: The Quill Emerger

Looking for an easy to tie fly with wide appeal on both rivers and lakes this spring? With a slick, natural look, our Quill Emerger is not only one of the easiest of emerger flies to tie, but simple and effective to use.

This fly can mimic either hatching olives, or indeed lake buzzers, depending on the size you tie it. Brown trout love it, as do rainbows- but it will also fool rudd, carp and other fish species. However, as stylish as the segmented body looks, it’s also a very simple fishing fly to make yourself, and is also an ideal fly pattern for beginners. 


Brown trout are especially fond of smaller emergers, although you could try this pattern for rainbow trout, rudd or even carp!

The real trick with this pattern is in making life easy for yourself with just three ingredients beyond thread and hook. Chief among these is Hemingway’s Synthetic Quill.  We stock three types of this in all sorts of colours, including Tapered Buzzer Quill and Transparent Tapered Quill- which is what is shown in this step-by-step.  

Why use synthetic rather than natural material? Well, for one thing, this stuff is so easy to use! You don’t need to faff about stripping real quill, which all too often proves too short or snaps at the critical point! Furthermore, the Hemingway’s stuff is not only beautifully even and reliable, but looks completely convincing. In fact, the natural colours are hard to tell from the real thing- although you also have a BIG range of colours to customise your own fly patterns! 

So, let’s tie a simple emerger step by step… not that there’s anything stopping you using it for nymphs, buzzers or any other suitable style of fly.


Quill Emerger

Hook: Emerger or Dry Fly, size 10-18 


Thorax/head: Dubbing of your choice (Hemingway’s Hares Dubbing shown)

Thread: To suit body colour (fine light tan shown here)

Body: Hemingway’s Synthetic Quill (colour of your choice- “natural transparent” shown here).
Wing: Natural CDC



Take your hook (this is a size 16, for river fishing. For a stillwater emerger you could go as large as a 10 or 12) and cover with the thread. An even application will help the quill sit snugly. With transparent quills, as shown, the thread colour will show through- in this case giving an attractive light tan colour.

Now, tie in your tapered quill from the finer end of the material. Rather than tying by the very tip, lay it right along the hook shank for a more even body, leaving just a little space for the head.

Carefully make your body using touching turns of the quill. Note how easy this is, as the synthetic material is much longer and tougher than natural quill! Once you are near the hook eye, secure with a few tight, even wraps of thread.  It needn’t be super tidy, because we’ll be adding CDC and dubbing shortly.

Now take a little CDC and pinch so that the tips are lined up. For tiny hooks of 16 or 18, two CDC feathers will do. For larger hooks, take three. Proportions are up to you, but you can always tie in with just a couple of wraps of thread and tease the material with a gentle pull to make your wing longer or shorter. Just bear in mind, before you bind in place with more wraps, that the shorter you make it, the less willingly the fly will float!

Once the wing is secure, take a fine tipped pair of scissors and trim, before adding another few turns of fine thread to keep everything tidy.

Now add just a touch of dubbing to your thread. Shown here is Hemingway’s Hares Dubbing, which gives a lovely hint of sparkle and comes in lots of colours (tan shown) to suit your tastes and local hatches! It’s also very easy to use just by teasing a little apart in your fingers and rubbing onto the thread as shown. Less is often more, so go sparingly.

Once our dubbing is in place, you can tie off and finish the fly. Two final touches here will help produce a tough and effective fly: a spot of varnish on the thread, and a dubbing needle to gently tease out the dubbing slightly.

And that’s it, we’re done! Very easy, but there are loads of variations you could create with different colours and materials. 

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