stimulator fly tied by Barry Ord Clarke

Stimulator Dry Fly pattern

The original pattern is from the American fly tyer Randall Kaufmann and is probably one of the most popular flies in North America. Originally tied to imitates the adult giant stonefly, but will fish just as well as a hopper or caddis fly.

This well dressed pattern is for fishing rough fast flowing water,  where it can be seen easily at distance and it  floats like a cork. Stimulators are versatile, and although look difficult, are relatively easy to tie, again, it’s all about proportions!  By varying the size and colour, you can imitate most adult stoneflies. The Stimulator can also be tied with rubber legs, like Madam X. This is a great attractor pattern that will bring fish up to the top, when most other patterns fail!

When fishing use the  same presentation as a caddis fly, streaking the stimulator over the water’s surface, especially in windy areas. Stimulators float well in rough water, but on calmer drifts, I find it fishes  better if you trim the hackle on the underside so that it  floats a little lower in the water, and strip it hard with short pauses through the surface over possible fish lies.

Stimulator-“Something that causes and encourages a given response”

Stimulator Dry Fly

Stimulator fly pattern material list

  • Hook:   Mustad curved nymph # 6 -12
  • Thread:  Dyneema
  • Tail:   Elk hair
  • Body:  Golden yellow Antron floss
  • Body Hackle: Golden Badger or Furnace
  • Wing:   Elk hair and crystal hair fibers Dubbing
  • Thorax: Golden Stone
  • Hackle: Grizzle

How to tie Stimulator fly

step by step Stimulator fly



Secure your curved nymph/ terrestrial hook in the vice.



Run the tying thread along the hook shank until it hangs level with the barb of the hook.



Cut and clean a small small bunch of elk hair in for the tail, this doesn’t flare as much as winter deer hair. Tie in directly above the hook barb.



Tie the elk hair down along the hook shank as shown.  This will give you a good foundation and volume for your floss body.



Tie in the hackle at the base of the tail. The best is to use a good saddle hackle so you have the volume required.



About one third of the way along the hook shank tie in a length of golden yellow Antron floss.



Run the floss back towards the tail base and forward again building up a tapered body as you go. Tie off the floss.



Wind the hackle, palmered style, about 7 or eight even turns.  When you reach the thorax tie off and remove the excess hackle.



Cut another bunch of elk hair, this time a little larger for the wing. Before you stack it be sure to remove ALL the under fur and shorter hairs. You may have to stack it a few times to achieve this.



If you stack the elk hair for the wing in a small diameter stacker the hair will ‘fall’ into its natural curve.



Before you tie in the elk hair wing, tie in two or three strands of golden yellow crystal hair.



Now tie in the elk hair, first with a couple of loose turns of tying thread and then tighter as you wind forward towards the hook eye. Trim off the excess deer hair and cover the butt ends with tying thread.



Prepare and tie in a grizzle cock hackle at the base of the wing. This hackle should be long enough for six or seven turns.



Dub the thorax with golden stone dubbing in a cone shape as shown. Make sure that you make a few turns of dubbing around the base of the wing, this will lower it and give the correct profile.



Wind on your grizzle hackle in nice even turns. Tie off and whip finish.  Your completed golden stimulator!

Why Use a Stimulator Fly?

A stimulator fly has several advantages over other dry flies. Its buoyancy allows it to float high on the water’s surface, making it visible to both the angler and the fish. Additionally, its bushy appearance and movement imitate several insects, making it an effective attractor pattern. This fly can be used in a variety of situations, including when fishing in fast or deep water.

Fishing with a Stimulator Fly

When fishing with a stimulator fly, it is essential to have the right gear and setup. A 9-foot, 4- or 5-weight rod with a floating line is ideal for fishing with a stimulator fly. The leader should be around 9 to 12 feet long, with a tippet size of 4X to 6X.

To present the fly, it is important to cast it upstream or across the current and let it drift naturally. The fly can also be twitched to imitate the movement of an insect struggling on the surface of the water.

The best times and places to use a stimulator fly are when fishing for trout in fast or deep water, especially during the summer and fall when grasshoppers and stoneflies are abundant.

Best Colors for Stimulator Fly

Stimulator flies come in a variety of colors, but the most effective ones are often those that imitate natural insects or act as attractors. Natural colors like brown, olive, and black are great choices for imitating stoneflies, while attractor colors like orange and yellow are ideal for imitating grasshoppers and other terrestrial insects.

The best color choice will depend on the situation, but it is always a good idea to have a variety of colors in your fly box to experiment with.

Tips for Successful Stimulator Fly Fishing

When fishing with a stimulator fly, there are several tips that can help increase your chances of success:

  1. Read the water: Look for areas where trout are likely to be feeding, such as riffles or the edges of pools.
  2. Proper casting technique: Practice your casting technique to ensure accurate and delicate presentations.
  3. Be observant on the water: Pay attention to the behavior of the fish and the insects they are feeding on to help you choose the right fly.
  4. Adjusting the fly to the conditions: Experiment with different colors and sizes of the fly to find what works best in the current conditions.

By following these tips and techniques, you can increase your chances of success when fishing with a stimulator fly.

In conclusion, the stimulator fly is an effective and versatile fly pattern that every fly fisherman should have in their fly box. With the right gear, setup, and technique, this fly can help you catch more trout and enjoy a more successful and enjoyable fly fishing experience.

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8 thoughts on “Stimulator Dry Fly pattern

    1. Thanks Chris,

      Yeah they both take a little time to master, but they look great when you get them right!
      Hope to see you at BFFI next year, I will be tying on the Veniard stand.

  1. Hi Barry,

    It will be great to see you again at BFFI next February. What sort of Elk would you normally use for tying the Stimulator? I usually use Yearling Elk.

    All the best


  2. I just needed to say ” I have used this fly in all weathers, at totally different times of the year throughout, and caught fish every time I have used it. This is a Fly that I always, must have in my box Tight lines.