The Red Quill Spinner

The Red Quill Spinner

Here's one pattern that will imitate a variety of mayfly species

  • By: A. K. Best
Start the thread on the hook three hook-eye spaces behind the eye, wind to the beginning of the bend, clip off the tag, and make two or three turns of thread over the last turn to create a tiny thread bump. Tie in the tailing fibers just in front of the thread bump. Length should be about two hook-eye spaces longer than the entire hook. Wind thread over the butts to the thread starting point and clip off the excess butts. Splay the fibers by pushing them up slightly with your left thumbnail.Apply a tiny drop of head lacquer at the base of the tail fibers and they will stay in their splayed position forever! Select a stripped and dyed quill whose length and diameter will allow you to created a suitable body on the size hook you're using. That is to say, clip off the tip to a point where the remaining quill-tip diameter is equal to the hook, tailing butts and thread already on the hook. Tie the quill onto the hook as shown. Wind the quill forward in tightly nesting wraps and tie it off on top of the hook immediately over the tied-in clipped tip. Clip of the remaining butt and smooth down with thread wraps. Select a pair of white hen hackle feathers whose tips are slightly wider than the hook-gap space. Clip off the butts at a point where the remaining tips will be two hook-eye spaces longer than the entire hook, tie them to the hook, divide and flatten. Thinly and firmly apply dryfly dubbing to the thread and create a figure-eight dubbed thorax that is twice the diameter of the shoulder of the body of the fly. I wish I had called this pattern the "Rusty Quill Spinner" about 20 years ago when I first began tying it. The idea came to me while I was fishing a PMD spinner fall on the Harriman Ranch portion of the Henry's Fork. I was getting way too many refusals with the standard dubbed-body Rusty Spinner and, after carefully observing the naturals, I rediscovered the fact that no mayfly has a fuzzy body. So back to camp to tie some quill-body spinners using a light tan rooster-hackle quill for the body. I still got some refusals because of bad drifts, but I had far more confident rises and hookups than before. It isn't often that we can use one pattern for a variety of mayfly species (not counting the Adams, of course), but the Red Quill Spinner closely imitates Blue-Wing Olive spinners and the prolific Western Red Quill. I carry them in sizes 22 through 14, with 18's and 16's making up the bulk of my spinner box.