Video: How to Tie Matt’s Sulfur Usual

The original Usual dry fly was created by Fran Betters of Wilmington, New York, who specialized in fishing the fast water of the West Branch of the Au Sable. To do so, he needed flies that floated well, and his first famous creation, the Haystack, used a single clump of deer hair as both the wings and legs of a fly. Building upon that concept, he created the Usual, which substituted rabbit’s foot for the deer hair to create a more elegant pattern, and one which could also be fished as an emerger. Although Betters’s original Usual was tied as a generalist pattern, meant to imitate a host of mayflies, it can be tied in various colors to match any naturals.

Here’s a great sulphur version of the Usual by author and blogger Matt Grobert, which uses wood-duck fibers for the tail, rather than rabbit fur. The finished product is therefore somewhat sleeker and a closer imitation of a real sulphur. In this video from Tightline Productions, you’ll see how Matt prepares the rabbit’s foot to ensure that only the right kind of fur ends up in the wing. This is an incredibly simple and useful pattern, no matter where you fish for trout.

          Sulfur Usual
          Hook: Standard dry-fly hook, size 16.
          Thread: Plae yellow, 6/0.
          Wing: Snowshoe-rabbit’s foot.
          Tails: 4 or 5 Wood-duck fibers.
          Body/thorax: Pale yellow rabbit-fur dubbing.
          Head: Tying thread.
          Note: Here on the Orvis Fly Fishing blog, we spell sulfur with an “f,” although both spellings are acceptable.

3 thoughts on “Video: How to Tie Matt’s Sulfur Usual”

  1. I love the snowshoe rabbit fly. I tie it on a curved hook as an emerger with a trailing shuck, or on a straight hook with tails. I tie it large as a Hendrickson or ISO, small as a sulphur, smaller as a BWO. Pretty much all I use on the Delaware River.

  2. I have been tying a similar fly for years for use north of the border on Ontario’s Grand RIver. Wood duck rocks! I think I have paid for at least a dozen Helios rods tying this pattern for the shop… I also use the tying thread to counter wrap the body. This makes for a slimmer, segmented body with very little additional time. I match the thread for cahills, sulphurs and rusty spinners and contrast it for the foxes and some of the hendricksons… This has been the most popular dry for Hendrickson, BWO, isonychia, fox and Cahill hatches up our way for over a decade. It still fools the big ones! Great video and nice coverage of the use of snowshoe foot. It is a wonderful material, but if you do not understand how to use it the results can be pretty ugly…

  3. New to tying… Having issues getting the rabbit fur to stay in place. I tried wrapping tightly with 8/0 thread to get it to stay but end up breaking the thread. Any suggestions? Maybe the clump of for was just too big..

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