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Adventures in Fly Tying... July 2010

The Jassid
Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard


I remember the very first time I saw a Jassid fly.  It wasn't long after I'd taken to fly fishing as something more than just a hobby and I was taking those first steps of immersing myself into the history, culture and rich diversity that the sport can deliver. Living on the South Shore of Massachusetts I had cold water trout and landlocked salmon, warm water bass and panfish, anadromous shad, and salt water stripers, bluefish and harbor pollock all within reach.  My head spun with overwhelming opportunity and every angling book in the Bridgewater town library found its way into my hands.  I was voracious in my appetite for knowledge and the lexicon of fly fishing is highly trout-centric.  It's no wonder that match-the-hatch salmonid ties dominated the early output of my Thompson Model B vise!  One of the first books I nearly memorized was Vince Marinaro's A Modern Dry Fly Code.  The idea of casting diminutive patterns to super smart brown trout on a spring creek was far too romantic to ignore.  It didn't matter that I'd never seen a spring creek or that all my trout to that day had come from red worms fished under a quill bobber.

The first time I actually saw a Jassid was in the Tight Lines store in West Bridgewater.  I don't know who the gentleman was, but he was a bonafide fly fisher and took some entertainment in letting a 12 year old kid paw through his fly boxes and ask questions.  A size 20?  Preposterous!  How could a fish even see such a tiny fly!  And the jungle cock!  Rich with color and lovely in form, it was captivating.  I couldn't afford a jungle cock cape in those days, but I still have a box of about 6 dozen tiny midges that I tied and hoped to fish... some day.  Little did I know it would be years and years before I truly had a reason to fish far and fine.

The Mad River is Ohio's own spring creek; one I spent a few years learning. One thing I found was that terrestrials are a big part of late season trout meals, and small terrestrials outnumber larger ones.  A decade or so ago jungle cock became available again in the United States as domestically raised birds started to enter the market.  An impulse purchase of a cape and a memory of that Jassid had me tying up thimblefuls of tiny size 18, 20 and 22's.  The Mad River's browns approved, and my passion for this simple pattern was rekindled.  Designed as an imitation of a leaf hopper, the Jassid's simple form and sharp profile suggest a beetle with equal accuracy.  I've still not fished the Le Tort, but one day soon I will.   You can bet that when I do I'll be tying on a Jassid.



Hook:  Mustad 94830, R30 or similar dry fly hook, size 16 to as small as you can tie them.
Thread: Traditionally black 70 denier (8/0), but changing color is up to your whims.

Body: Tying thread or light dubbing of mole or a similar fine dry fly dubbing in black or dark brown

Wings A single jungle cock nail tied flat over the body

Hackle:  Traditionally black and short for the hook size, palmered up the shank of the hook and trimmed flat on both the top and bottom. I tie the fly with grizzly hackle and forego the bottom trim unless I want the fly flush in the surface, a decision I make on the water.  I've also seen this fly tied with dark brown and furnace hackles.

Windows Media Video  QuickTime Video 


New High Definition - 720p!

High Definition Windows Media File



The key to the Jassid is the jungle cock nail. Nothing is quite like the real thing.  A "B" grade cape will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 and will ties dozens of Jassids and provide nails for dozens more classic streamers.  And the saddle feathers are the right choice for the Gibbs Striper Bucktail.  You can also buy packages of a dozen or so nails at a time.  Also, experiment with starling breast and mallard drake neck and head feathers for a different look. But the jungle cock, it's the personality of this fly...

We're tying this fly on a size 16, which is about as small as we can go on camera with our current gear.  Size 16 is a good size to fish, but this fly really is at its best in 18 and 20.  Personally I hate fishing anything smaller than a size 22, but brave souls have been known to tie this pattern to a size 28.  Good luck seeing it on the water!  Lay down a smooth thread base and attach the dry fly quality hackle, sized to the hook or even one size smaller, at the back of the shank.

For sizes 16, 18 and even 20, a lightly dubbed body of mole or mink under-fur can make this pattern quite buggy.  For 20 and below, a straight thread body is traditional.  This is a simple tie!

Here you see a slim dubbed body.  Keep this fly trim!

Palmer the hackle 4 to 6 turns up the body.  Black hackle is the traditional pattern, but grizzly makes for a very nice tie.  Try cree or dark reddish-brown for a slightly different effect.  I've got it on good faith that an olive hackle and olive/green body in size 16 is not only a killer of trout, but is irresistible to finicky bluegills.

Trim the top of the hackle flat to make room for the wing.  The traiditional and correct tie is to also trim the bottom so the hackles are only to the sides. I prefer to use my Fiskars and do this on the stream if needed. The additional hackle can help float this fly on slightly faster runs.

Select a well-marked jungle cock nail that is as long as the hook.  These will be the smallest eyes on the cape, those not typically used for streamer cheeks.  Prepare the nail by removing the fluff from the bottom of the nail.

Mount the nail flat across the back of the fly.  The opaque nail makes for a great beetle silouette!  Form a neat thread head and clip the tying thread.

What a neat little fly this is, fast and easy to tie.  Stories have it that when Marinaro first created the pattern he was secretive about its details.  The story goes that some enterprising anglers followed Marinaro along the banks of the Le Tort until they were able to retrieve a lost fly from the branches of streamside brush!  I have no way of knowing if this story is true, but I've always imagined that somewhere out there a fly tied by the hand of the master, left as silent sacrifice to all those who came after to carry the torch. 


The YouTube video embedded below is a slightly truncated version of the full video offered for download.  To see the full video, please select the standard definition or high-definition 720p files offered in the links above.  Please note, the HD version is a BIG file and download times may be considerable if you're on a slow Internet connection.  It's worth the wait!



Tight lines and terrestrial-filled waters...

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