Murray's Strymph Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard
Murray's Strymph is a fly
originated by Harry Murray, a well known smallmouth and trout angler,
guide and fly shop owner from Edinburg, Virginia. His home waters
include the Shenandoah, where he's developed a reputation as a creative,
perceptive and thoughtful angler. Murray's book Fly Fishing
Techniques For Smallmouth Bass is a landmark work, one every serious
creek angler should have in his collection. Among the flies
originated by Murray, and he's responsible for a bulging handful of
productive patterns, the Strymph is my favorite for its versatility and
The Strymph, as its name suggests, is a
melding of a streamer and nymph much like Russell Blessing's Wooly Bugger.
But the Strymph goes farther. Rather than marabou, the Strymph's
ostrich tail holds together in the water with all the herls moving as one.
This refines the illusion of a hellgrammite, large burrowing mayfly nymph,
leech or baitfish pattern, especially when casting upstream and fishing
the fly back downstream as one would do on a lively smallmouth stream.
The fly incorporates elements of Polly Rosborough's Casual Dress nymph, Ed
Shenk's White Streamer. The chewy dubbing-loop body adds texture
(smallmouth bass love texture), translucency and internal motion; all of
which suggest life.
Murray recommends several colors of Strymph
including olive, black, cream and natural rabbit. Sized range from a
petite size 10 to an intimidating size 2 and the fly should always include
enough lead to get it to sink efficiently, but not so much that it
plummets to the bottom without action. I like to fish the Strymph on
a fluorocarbon tippet using a loop knot to preserve as much micro-motion
as possible. The trick to the Strymph is to fish it slowly.
This fly is for the fly fisherman what the straight tail Senko is for the
spin fisherman. It's a fine drop bait and a great dead-stick bait.
Hook: 4XL ring-eye streamer hook,
size 10 to 2. In this video I use a Daiichi 1750, size 4. Thread: Black or any color to match the body. Use 3/0 210
Denier for the largest sizes and 6/0 140 denier for the smaller sizes.
10 to 20 wraps of lead wire that's about the same diameter as the
hook wire. I like .025 for a size 4.
20 to 30 herls from an ostrich plume
Dyed or natural rabbit fur in a dubbing loop
Hackle: Hen hackle or waterfowl
flank, tied in the manner of a soft hackle fly with two or three turns of
soft, long hackle providing action and veiling of the body.
Wrap 15 to 20 wraps of lead wire onto the
front third of the hook. Ensure enough space to wrap the hackle and
finish the head in front of the lead wire.
Cover the lead wire with a smooth base of
thread and bring the thread back to a point over the barb of the hook.
Select 20 to 30 ostrich herls and even the
tips by pinching off the fragile ends. You can add a few strands of
flash if you'd like a brighter fly, but keep any flash sparse. The
ostrich tail should be about as long as the hook shank. Tie in the
ostrich at the end of the lead wire to form a full and even underbody.
Wrap the thread back so its right over the hook point.
Lock in an 8" loop of thread by wrapping
back over the loop to a point over the hook's barb, then bring the thread
forward to the hook eye. Insert the dubbing twister into the loop
and wax the thread loop to help hold the rabbit fur in place.
Clip bunches of rabbit fur from the hide
and place between the loops, careful to keep the thread over the mid-point
of the fur. Spread the fur out so it's evenly distributed in the loop.
Once the fur is evenly distributed, twist
the thread into a fur chenille.
Wrap the chenille up the hook shank,
stroking the fur back between wraps. Advance the fur dubbing loop to
the eye and tie off, leaving enough room for the hackle and head.
Tie off the thread with a whip finish and clip.
Comb the body with a dubbing brush to fluff
and align the fibers of the body.
Trim the rabbit body to a tapered carrot
shape using curved scissors
Re-attach your thread in front of the body
and prepare the hackle.
The original patter specifies a soft hackle
such as a hen hackle or partridge feather. On this particular color
I like the mottled effect of a mallard drake breast feather
The hackle should be long and relatively
sparse. Tie off the hackle, form a neat thread head and tie off. Add
a bit of tying cement and the Strymph is complete.
This is a versatile pattern that
imitates a lot of the things smallmouth bass eat. The natural rabbit
and grey is a fine imitation of a chub or river shiner.
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!