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  • Writer's pictureChris O'Byrne

Hare’s Ear Nymph

Underwater, mayfly nymphs who no longer crawl along the bottom but cannot yet fly, struggle to immerge from the shell of their immature selves. While floating to the surface, their weak legs and crumpled wings crack their constraining exoskeletons then wiggle uselessly. Helpless in between two phases of life, these immature flying insects are easy prey for protein seeking fish. And fly fishers have an opportunity!

At least as long ago as the 1700s, fly anglers fishing for trout with imitations of these emerging nymphs struck on the idea of using the soft and lively fur from the ears of rabbits to represent the cracking exoskeleton and wiggling limbs of juvenile mayflies and caddis flies. Since this beginning, the Hare’s Ear style of fly has been adjusted to catch fish in many different waters, including years of success in FeatherWater bass and panfish lakes.

While the abdomen of the Hare’s Ear fly is standard dubbed fur, the legs and wings of the natural insects are attached to the thorax of the adult. Therefore, this portion of the exoskeleton is most splintered just below the head. Fly tyers either pick out that dubbing or form dubbing loop to create a spiky and moving appearance imitating the naturals.

Central Florida bass waters are deeper than flowing trout water and generally tannin darkened. To get this wet fly seen by deep-holding fish, I like to use plenty of lead wire substitute on the hook shank, copper wire wrapped around the dubbed abdomen, a bead head and some reflective flash materials to represent the wing case. For larger, still water, I like streamer hooks.

Using this fly for bass and bluegill in you’ll want to present the Hare’s Ear slowly; letting it sink deeply and allowing plenty of time between strips. As a single lure, it is a sunken fly, so you must watch the end of the fly line and be prepared for dampened takes. Additionally, it works well as the bottom fly in a dropper rig. Again, after casting allow the bottom fly to swing all the way down to the end of the leader, then pop gently to display the rise of a nymph struggling to achieve adulthood.

General Materials

Hare’s Ear Nymph

Thread: 6/0, Tan

Optional bead: 7/64 gold

Suggested weight: Lead free wire

Body: Dubbing of Hare’s mask guard fibers and rabbit fur

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