As Tom Rosenbauer points out in his chapter on the Humpy in The Orvis Guide to Essential American Flies, the Humpy is more of a style of dry fly than a single pattern. That said, however, most anglers think of the yellow version when they hear the name. Tom goes on to trace the lineage of the Humpy through a series of western deer-hair patterns, including the Little Jack Horner and the Goofus Bug. The name “Humpy” is credited to Leonard “Boots” Allen of Wyoming.
No matter what you call it, the Humpy is one of the great broken-water dry flies of all time. If floats forever, imitates a wide variety of bugs, and even works great as an indicator fly.
Here’s a great video, by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, which features the tying stylings of author and blogger Matt Grobert. As with all of Tightline’s videos, this one shows the simplest ways to control the materials, thus making the pattern easier to tie. The ways that Grobert lashes the elk hair and posts the wings make for a tight, elegant fly with clean lines. Although I have often found that a Humpy works even better when it’s been chewed up a bit.
Hook: Standard dry-fly hook (e.g.TMC #100), sizes 10-20.
Thread/Underbody: Yellow, 3/0.
Tail: Moose body hair, cleaned and stacked.
Back/wing: Elk body hair, cleaned and stacked.
Hackle: Grizzly and brown.
Head: Tying thread.
Tools: Hair stacker, hackle pliers.