Tag Archives: Edinburg VA

Murray’s Hellgrammite

Murray's Heavy Black Hellgrammite
Murray’s Heavy Black Hellgrammite

It is hard to fix it if you do not know what is broken. That is where I was when I started fly fishing for smallmouth bass in the sixties. As a youngster growing up in Edinburg, Virginia on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River in the fifties we all caught many smallmouth bass on real hellgrammites as live bait. However, for my fly fishing after college none of the existing Hellgrammite patterns worked for me. The beautifully tired patterns I got from Abercrombie and Fitch in New York which they called Hellgrammites just did not work. When I started fishing the Yellowstone River in Montana I had Dan Bailey’s girls tie a dozen two inch long versions of his beautiful woven body Mossback Nymphs because these looked to me like my hellgrammites back in Virginia. These we also failures for the smallmouth bass.
Finally Ron Kommer came up with the idea of using Ostrich Herl (or plume) for very large flies.  Simultaneously, I was experimenting with real hellgrammites by tossing them into the river to see how they acted. When I dropped the real hellgrammites into the river one by one, I saw that they swam downstream with an exaggerated undulating action as they headed for the streambottom. Finally I saw what was broken: All of these beautiful earlier hellgrammite patterns lacked the capacity to move in an undulating manner like the natural hellgrammites.
By incorporating the ostrich herl as an extended body in this new fly and tying it “in the round” as Charlies Brookes recommended to me, the final Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite was developed. This is so effective that today it is my favorite smallmouth bass fly.

Also check out: Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite Assortment, Murray’s Black Hellgrammite¬† and Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite Tying Kit.

North Fork of the Shenandoah River near Edinburg, VA

North Fork of the Shenandoah River near Edinburg, VA on October 25, 2012
I snapped this shot of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River on October 25, 2012 near Edinburg, VA. Fall is definitely here. The leaves are past their peak and are quickly falling from the trees. It’s beginning to look more and more like winter.