The Gimp Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard
I tried to remember where I first saw
this fly. I can't. I do specifically remember using it to
catch 8" wild brook trout from a tiny stream that ran through the scrub
pine and sandy soil in a forgotten patch of Bridgewater. I'm
certain the stream is now gone, forfeited to a well-groomed
residential development no doubt. I think that much of the
Massachusetts of my youth is now gone too, lost in the intervening three
plus decades. But this fly remains, a sharp memory in a mind
full of fishing remembrances. A quick Google search taught me the
fly was created by Lacey Gee of Independence, Iowa sometime before 1950.
You can read the fascinating history in this Fly
Anglers On-Line article. The Gimp is an excellent "flymph"
with great motion and a convincing silhouette. In addition to
brookies, this fly has accounted for untold hundreds of bluegill, perch,
largemouth bass and crappie. It's been years since I fished it,
but you can bet your bottom dollar you'll find it in my kit next time I
go to the water. Tie this one up and give it a splash - you'll
like the results of a trip down memory lane!
Hook: Gaeilic Supreme or similar 1xl wet fly
hook, size 10 to 16. Thread: Black 8/0, 70 denier: Body: Gray or dun colored wool yarn or dubbing
Tail: Grey or blue dun hen hackle, rolled
and about as long as the hook shank
Wing: "Gimp" feather from the base of a Lady
Amherst pheasant neck feather
Hackle: Same as tail, two turns and swept
back in a soft hackle style.
The Gimp feather is a small insulating feather with a thick, tough
stem that is found attached to the bottom of the barred black and
white feather from a Lady Amherst pheasant neck. The Lady
Amherst is a small, very pretty pheasant. The neck feathers
are often used as cheeks on streamers and as components of full
dress salmon flies. The necks are inexpensive and every fly tier
should have one is his or her kit. The Gimp feather is almost never
used - this is a unique pattern using an overlooked material!
Start by laying a smooth thread base along the shank of the hook.
Here we are using a size 14 wet fly hook from Gaelic Supreme.
The fly can be tied from size 10 to about size 16, Gimp
feathers may accommodate flies to size 8, but seldom smaller than 16
due to the thick center stem. Tie in a tail of rolled
dun hen back about as long as the hook shank. Run the thread
back to a point about two hook eye widths from the front of the
The body of the gimp can be dubbed or wrapped with wool yarn.
Here I'm using a nice gray dun yarn. Separate the plies of the
yarn and use one ply. Tie the yarn in at the front of the hook
and wrap a smooth underbody to the tail. Then run the thread
back to the body tie-in point.
I like to twist the yarn tightly to make a segmented body, similar
to the body on a Serendipity nymph. This will give a nice
buggy look and also make the fly just a bit tougher. Tie off
the yarn and clip the ends.
Prepare the gimp feather by stripping the fluff to make the feather
long enough to reach to the tail, but not beyond. The feather
is tied in flat along the shank of the hook like a flat-wing
streamer. Use about 6 tight thread wraps to tie in the feather
and clip the excess stem.
Prepare a hen hackle by stroking the feather barbs back and clipping
the tip of the feather. Tie the feather in by the tip and wrap
a sparse hackle that sweeps back to the hook barb. Wrap two
turns of hackle, tie off and trim.
Build a round, black thread head. The head on this fly is
larger than you'd normally tie on a wet fly or nymph. This helps
create the two-toned effect that imitates a case-less caddis pupa or
water beetle nymph.
Laquer the head with Sally Hansens' Hard As Nails nail
polish. Let the head dry and you'll have a unique and very
effective fly that you can dead drift or fish on a tight line like a
wet fly. This is a fantastic searching pattern for trout and
bluegill in moving water and can be productive when fished in a
tandem rig on still waters, too!