Jassid Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard
I remember the very first time
I saw a Jassid fly. It wasn't long after I'd taken to fly fishing as
something more than just a hobby and I was taking those first steps of
immersing myself into the history, culture and rich diversity that the
sport can deliver. Living on the South Shore of Massachusetts I had cold
water trout and landlocked salmon, warm water bass and panfish, anadromous
shad, and salt water stripers, bluefish and harbor pollock all within
reach. My head spun with overwhelming opportunity and every angling
book in the Bridgewater town library found its way into my hands. I
was voracious in my appetite for knowledge and the lexicon of fly fishing
is highly trout-centric. It's no wonder that match-the-hatch
salmonid ties dominated the early output of my Thompson Model B vise!
One of the first books I nearly memorized was Vince Marinaro's A Modern
Dry Fly Code. The idea of casting diminutive patterns to super
smart brown trout on a spring creek was far too romantic to ignore.
It didn't matter that I'd never seen a spring creek or that all my trout
to that day had come from red worms fished under a quill bobber.
The first time I actually saw
a Jassid was in the Tight Lines store in West Bridgewater. I don't
know who the gentleman was, but he was a bonafide fly fisher and took some
entertainment in letting a 12 year old kid paw through his fly boxes and
ask questions. A size 20? Preposterous! How could a fish
even see such a tiny fly! And the jungle cock! Rich
with color and lovely in form, it was captivating. I couldn't afford
a jungle cock cape in those days, but I still have a box of about 6 dozen
tiny midges that I tied and hoped to fish... some day. Little did I
know it would be years and years before I truly had a reason to fish far
The Mad River is Ohio's own
spring creek; one I spent a few years learning. One thing I found was that
terrestrials are a big part of late season trout meals, and small
terrestrials outnumber larger ones. A decade or so ago jungle cock
became available again in the United States as domestically raised birds
started to enter the market. An impulse purchase of a cape and a
memory of that Jassid had me tying up thimblefuls of tiny size 18, 20 and
22's. The Mad River's browns approved, and my passion for this
simple pattern was rekindled. Designed as an imitation of a leaf
hopper, the Jassid's simple form and sharp profile suggest a beetle with
equal accuracy. I've still not fished the Le Tort, but one day soon
I will. You can bet that when I do I'll be tying on a Jassid.
Hook: Mustad 94830, R30 or
similar dry fly hook, size 16 to as small as you can tie them. Thread: Traditionally black 70 denier (8/0), but changing color is
up to your whims.
Tying thread or light dubbing of mole or a similar fine dry fly dubbing in
black or dark brown
A single jungle cock nail tied flat over the body
Hackle: Traditionally black and
short for the hook size, palmered up the shank of the hook and trimmed
flat on both the top and bottom. I tie the fly with grizzly hackle and
forego the bottom trim unless I want the fly flush in the surface, a
decision I make on the water. I've also seen this fly tied with dark
brown and furnace hackles.
The key to the Jassid is the jungle cock
nail. Nothing is quite like the real thing. A "B" grade cape will
cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 and will ties dozens of Jassids
and provide nails for dozens more classic streamers. And the saddle
feathers are the right choice for the Gibbs Striper Bucktail. You
can also buy packages of a dozen or so nails at a time. Also,
experiment with starling breast and mallard drake neck and head feathers
for a different look. But the jungle cock, it's the personality of this
We're tying this fly on a size 16, which is
about as small as we can go on camera with our current gear. Size 16
is a good size to fish, but this fly really is at its best in 18 and 20.
Personally I hate fishing anything smaller than a size 22, but brave souls
have been known to tie this pattern to a size 28. Good luck seeing
it on the water! Lay down a smooth thread base and attach the dry
fly quality hackle, sized to the hook or even one size smaller, at the
back of the shank.
For sizes 16, 18 and even 20, a lightly
dubbed body of mole or mink under-fur can make this pattern quite buggy.
For 20 and below, a straight thread body is traditional. This is a
Here you see a slim dubbed body. Keep
this fly trim!
Palmer the hackle 4 to 6 turns up the body.
Black hackle is the traditional pattern, but grizzly makes for a very nice
tie. Try cree or dark reddish-brown for a slightly different effect.
I've got it on good faith that an olive hackle and olive/green body in
size 16 is not only a killer of trout, but is irresistible to finicky
Trim the top of the hackle flat to make
room for the wing. The traiditional and correct tie is to also trim
the bottom so the hackles are only to the sides. I prefer to use my
Fiskars and do this on the stream if needed. The additional hackle can
help float this fly on slightly faster runs.
Select a well-marked jungle cock nail that
is as long as the hook. These will be the smallest eyes on the cape,
those not typically used for streamer cheeks. Prepare the nail by
removing the fluff from the bottom of the nail.
Mount the nail flat across the back of the
fly. The opaque nail makes for a great beetle silouette! Form
a neat thread head and clip the tying thread.
What a neat little fly this is, fast and
easy to tie. Stories have it that when Marinaro first created the
pattern he was secretive about its details. The story goes that some
enterprising anglers followed Marinaro along the banks of the Le Tort
until they were able to retrieve a lost fly from the branches of
streamside brush! I have no way of knowing if this story is true,
but I've always imagined that somewhere out there a fly tied by the hand
of the master, left as silent sacrifice to all those who came after to
carry the torch.
YouTube video embedded below is a slightly truncated version of the full
video offered for download. To see the full video, please select the
standard definition or high-definition 720p files offered in the links
above. Please note, the HD version is a BIG file and download times
may be considerable if you're on a slow Internet connection. It's
worth the wait!