When I floated the Madison with Josh Duchateau of Firehole Ranch a couple years ago, the very first pattern he suggested was the $3 Dip. Of course, I was familiar with the original Serendipity, but I’d never heard of this particular variation. After the first few fish came to the boat, however, I was sold on the little fly’s effectiveness. Craig Mathews, of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, says that guide Nick Nicklas came up with the $3 Dip because he wanted a slimmer body than the original pattern. (For a history of the Serendipity and its variations, check out this article from John Kreft.)
This excellent video by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions features author and blogger Matt Grobert walking us through the simple steps for creating a $3 Dip. I like the way he builds the body, and his method for attaching the elk-hair wing buds ensures that they will stay put.
Three Dollar Dip
Hook: Scud/pupa hook (here a Dai-Riki #135), size 16.
Bead: Gold, 3/32-inch.
Thread/body: Brown, 6/0 or 140-denier.
Rib: Gold wire, fine.
Wingbud: Bleached elk hair.