Flathead Mayfly Nymphs Rule

11 comments / Posted on / by

Flathead Mayfly (Heptageniidae) Nymph. Photo By: Louis Cahill

If you take the time to to flip over enough rocks in moderate moving water you’re bound to find lots of Flathead Mayfly (Heptageniidae) clinger nymphs of various sizes.

These three and two tailed flat bodied nymphs, with robust legs and broad heads are very important for fly anglers. Quill Gordons, March Browns, Hendrickson, Light Cahill, Pink Quill and Gray Fox are some of the popular species that belong to the flathead family. To date, there’s been fly patterns created for over 45 different species in 10 different genera of the flathead family. Because there’s usually multiple species found in any given watershed,

I typically find trout keep them on the food menu year round. The subsurface nymph patterns seem to produce nice trout for me even when fishing conditions are really tough. Oddly enough, I rarely find a good variety of patterns that imitate the nymph stage in my local fly shops. Below is a pattern I tie as a general all-around nymph imitation for the flathead “clinger” mayfly. It’s designed to mimic the bold features of the flathead, and it’s landed many big fish for me the past few seasons.

Klewein’s Flathead Nymph. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Klewein’s Flathead Nymph

Hook:  Size 16-12
Thread:  6/0 Brown
Bead:  Black or Olive 3/32″-1/8″ (I sometimes go beadless)
Thorax/Legs:  Brown Partridge Hackle
WingPad:  Thinskin – Natural
Abdomen:  Medium D-Ribbing -Brown
Tail:  Pheasant-tail Brown

Proof Trout Love Flathead Nymphs. Photo By: Louis Cahill

I stuck this giant on the first drift with my flathead nymph right after Louis had previously fished the spot with a different tandem nymph rig. It ended up being one the hot flies for the day. Tie up some of this pattern is varying sizes (16-12) in olive and brown and let me know how they work for you guys. It’s a quick tie and very durable.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

11 thoughts on “Flathead Mayfly Nymphs Rule

    • Hayden,

      Thanks man. It’s not a very technical tie other than getting the partridge hackle legs uniform. Man it works, hope you will try to tie some up in the meantime and fish them. Now is one of the really hot times to fish the patter with many of the flathead mayflies fixing to emerge.


  1. Looking like I might have a date with my vice. I wonder how a piece of flahsabou under the thinskin would look. Just a little bit of flash without being so much to turn some fish off. Just a thought otherwise that looks like an absolutle killer fly. So far every fly you have recommended on here I have tied and slayed fish with. Please keep em coming Mr. Klewein.

    • Sanford,

      I think a piece of flashabou on top would be a nice addition. For that matter you might go ahead and finish the fly off with some epoxy over the wing pad or broad head. All my patterns have been designed so I can tie them quickly while still having the important qualities to catch fish. It saves me loads of time tying for my guide trips.

      Let me know how the added flash works. Lastly, thanks for trying the patterns I’ve suggested. It’s great to hear the patterns are catching lots of fish for you. If they don’t catch fish you won’t see me posting them. There’s a lot of pretty patterns out there that find there way into fly bins that have not been thoroughly tested on the water but lure fly junkies.


  2. It’s always been amazing to me what people come up with in fly design as the materials come and go on the scene. In some river systems flys have to be fairly life like to be accepted. In my 50+ years of flyfishing and tying the last 15 have been amazing with the advent of synthetics. A great use of materials!

    • Chris,

      It is good to hear from you, it has been a while. Its funny you should say that, because I was thinking about putting together a signature box and giving it away during one of our next contests. Stay tuned, and you just might get your wish.


  3. It’s this darn 3rd kid! I tried to finally get out last week and do some fly fishing in N. Ga, but the rains came on the 2 days I was able to get away. Now I’m out on Lewis Smith doing some boring bass fishing. That would be an awesome contest Kent, make sure it’s something only I can win lol…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...