In this week’s great fly-tying video from Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, Tim says that he read somewhere that the Shop Vac was the creation of famed West Yellowstone fly-shop owner Craig Mathews. That attribution is very common, but it’s not entirely accurate. In fact, the Shop Vac was first tied by Rowan Nyman, one of Mathews’s partners at Blue Ribbon Flies. (Nyman now works at Firehole Ranch, and we’ve posted many of his brilliant photos.)
Either way, the SHop Vac is a great searching pattern that imitates any number of emerging aquatic insects. Use it as a dropper below a hopper or other dry fly, or try drifting it close to the bottom. It even produces on stillwaters, fished buzzer-style on a drift or with short strips.
Hook: Scud/pupa hook (here a Dai-Riki #135), sizes 16-20.
Bead: Gold, 3/32-inch.
Thread: Black, 8/0 or 70-denier.
Rib: Copper Ultra Wire, small.
Body: 6 to 8 pheasant-tail fibers.
Wingbud: White Z-lon.
Adhesive: Head cement or Sally Hansen Hard-As-Nails.
Tools: Plunger-style hackle pliers.