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The Tom Thumb
HOOK: 1x or 2x long, size 10 to 18
BODY: Deer Hair.
THREAD: Grey. Strong thread is recommended
TAIL and HACKLE: Deer Hair
Perhaps the simplest of dry flies to tie, the Tom Thumb is a great fly for beginners to tie. The use of a soft loop, to initially hold the deer hair to the shank of the hook, is essential. An early season deer has the best hair for Tom Thumbs, since the hair will be more even at the tips. In order to achieve neat, well balanced flies, use of a deer hair-stacker can be handy.
Deer hair is first tied in at the tail with butt ends. The thin ends of the deer hair are pulled forward to form a "sheath" and then tied off at the head. The last step is to "feather" or "spread" the remaining deer hair to form a hackle.
FISHING THE TOM THUMB:
The Tom Thumb is unmistakably one of the most popular dry flies used in British Columbia. In Alfred G. Davy's book the "Gilly", Ralph Shaw appropriately refers to this pattern as the "dry for all seasons". His designation of the phrase "dry for all season" is aptly chosen to characterize the versatility and proven success of this pattern.
I am aware of many anglers in BC who use the Tom Thumb exclusively as the dry fly of choice for virtually all trout fishing situations. The Tom Thumb can represent a variety of insects including chironomids, caddis flies, and sedge flies. Primarily a dry fly, it is fished as such.
One of the most exciting ways to fish this fly is while using the pattern to represent traveler sedges. The fly is cast out in a typical manner, while the fly is retrieved in short sharp bursts to imitate the movement of the emerged sedge. Often large trout will "slash" or "roll" over the fly as if to stop its movement. At this moment, it takes a great deal of patience not to strike at the first sign of the fish. Often this "slash" or "roll" precedes a second attempt from the fish, which will normally result in a very solid take!