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Simple Snowshoe Hare Emerger

by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)

Build thread base.

Build thread base.

Simple, buggy flies and tenkara go together like ketchup and fries. Lately, I’ve been tying a super-simple emerger pattern that works well in my local creeks and streams and thought I’d share it with readers.

Snowshoe hare emergers are nothing new, nor are patterns that use just snowshoe hare and thread; but this fly combines both elements. It’s really just a simplified mash-up between Bob Wyatt’s Snowshoe Hare Emerger and Fran Betters’ “Usual” pattern. It’s also an excellent pattern to learn if you’re just starting to tie flies. The only tough part is dubbing the snowshoe hare underfur or fuzz, but even that step is fairly easy with a touch of wax.

All you need is a hook, some thread, and a snowshoe hare’s foot. Here’s the process:
For the hook, I use a size 14, Firehole 316 (“Firehole Sticks”), which is barbless. The thread is white or gray Danville 140 denier waxed Flymaster. The only other material is a little tuft of snowshoe hare fur from the bottom of a snowshoe rabbit’s foot.

First, wind a body of thread down toward the bend of the hook. Then, wind the thread back up to within a third of the hook length of the eye. (See first photo.) Snip a small clump of fur from the bottom on the hare’s foot and pull the underbody fuzz from the cut end. (Experience will teach you how much you need.) Save all the fuzzies for the body dubbing. Tie in the tuft of the snowshoe rabbit fur so that it extends forward, just past the eye of the hook. Snug the tuft down firmly with a few good wraps so that it stays in place and doesn’t twist around the hook. Clip the end of the fur that remains toward the bend of the hook and wrap thread over it until you make a nice, tapered body. (See second photo.)

Next, dub the underfur behind the tuft toward the bend of the hook, covering all the thread. I dub the body well down to the bend of the hook and then spiral the bare thread forward over the dubbing back to the tuft or shuck. This is the hardest part of the tying process because snowshoe hare fuzz has a mind of its own. A bit of dubbing wax on the thread helps to control it. It’s okay to leave the body a bit raggedy. (Third photo)

Finally, move the thread in front of the clump of fur you have tied in and dub a little more fuzz in front of the clump to form a nice, buggy head. This step also helps the clump to stand up. Whip finish at the head. (Fourth photo)

This makes a simple, effective fly for several species, including panfish, bass, and stocker trout. I dress the tuft of fur with a bit of floatant and fish the fly in the film of the water with good results. After catching a fish, I simply wash off the slime, apply a little more floatant to the shuck, and maybe give the fly a false cast or two. The whitish, creamy hare fur is easy to see, and the fish really go for it because the body hangs down into the water. They often will strike this emerger when they’re reluctant to rise to a high, dry fly. The snowshoe hare dubbing increases the visibility and buoyancy and gives a scruffy, buggy appearance. Most snowshoe hare emergers are dressed in smaller sizes, but the size 14 hook is easier for me to manage.

Give it a go and see what you think. Sometimes super-simple is all you need!

Comments for Simple Snowshoe Hare Emerger

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Apr 02, 2018
Thanks John!
by: Les Albjerg

I tie a variation of this fly using hare's ear for the body and Snowshoe Hare for the "wing." It is just as simple, you are just using two different furs. I'm not familiar with Firehole hooks. I've been resupplying my hooks some, and have mostly been buying European competition hooks. Wow are they sharp!

I have this week off from my regular job. Lots of work to do in the shop, yard work, and two days of fishing in the Thousand Springs area. Four of the places I am going the rules are "No bait allowed."
I may have to tie up a few of these too.

Apr 02, 2018
great fly!
by: Jeff D


I am very much not a "one fly" guy, but the snowshoe hare emerger is pretty much the only non-foam dry fly I ever use! First, I am terrible at tying traditionally hackled dry flies, and absolutely hopeless at parachute style flies under about size 8. Second, I like to fill fly boxes quickly so I love simple flies.

I tie two color variants: one is tied with very light colored hare's ear dubbing and one with very dark hare's ear dubbing; and 3 basic sizes 12, 18, 26.

Another good thing about the SHE is that it really doesn't need any floatant. Just a couple false casts and it's good.

Thanks for spreading the Gospel of the SHE!

Apr 03, 2018
by: Terry Farmer

This is one of my favorite flies. I’ve tied Wyatt’s version but ran out. I’m gonna give your version a go. Thanks.

Apr 16, 2018
by: Ulysses

Any chance you could be convinced to make a video of this? I am one who really needs to see it done to understand it. The only flies I have ever tied are kebari style and utah killer bugs. Would love to add another.

Apr 16, 2018
Video Suggestion
by: John Evans

I know what you mean--videos help! Unfortunately, I'm not a video guy myself, but I do have a suggestion. Bob Wyatt has a really nice video called "Flies that Catch Fish vol. one" that features a similar snowshoe hare emerger. You may find clips of Wyatt's emerger on various websites. Anyway, Mr. Wyatt's pattern uses regular rabbit dubbing instead of the snowshoe underfuzz that I use. Plus, he ties in the wing or shuck a little differently. However, watching his video will probably clear up any points for you. Again, the main difference is that I use the snowshoe hare foot for both the dubbing and the shuck. Anyway, Wyatt's DVD is very helpful.

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