Hexagenia Helpers

  • By: Capt. Tony Petrella
  • Photography by: Ted Fauceglia

HEXAGENIA LIMBATA is the largest mayfly in the world, and it sends enormous brown trout into a feeding frenzy each June and early July in Michigan waters, making the state a prime location for some of the best big-trout fishing in the country. Why else do you think the bugs earned the nickname “Michigan mayfly”? I’m talking 20-inch-plus trout. A lot of them. Here are flies I've developed for the hatch.



Hook: Size 6 Daiichi 1270
Thread: Yellow 3/0 Monocord
Tails: 3 moose body fibers one and a half inches long
Back:  Pheasant tail fibers
Rib: Yellow 3/0 monocord reverse-Palmered
Body: Creamy-yellowish dry fly dubbing
Underwing: Wood duck flank fibers
Midwing: Natural gray CDC (cul du canard) fibers
Topwing: Natural gray mottled marabou
Legs: Light Cahill CDC fibers

Because of the CDC wing, this pattern can be effectively fished as an emerger in the classic quartering-downstream cast or, if false-cast to eliminate the water, as a floating dun. The fact that it can be used both ways is the reason it’s most effective, because the trout decide which “bug” they want at the moment.
Tie in the tails, then the rib, then the back. Dub the body forward two-thirds of the hook shank. Pull the back over and tie it off and reverse-Palmer the Monocord rib.
Tie in a set of legs. Make a turn of dubbing, then tie in the wood duck. Make a turn of dubbing, then tie in another clump of CDC legs. Add a turn of dubbing and add the midwing. Make a turn of dubbing and add the third CDC leg. Add a turn of dubbing, tie in the marabou and whip-finish the head.

Hook: Size 6 Daiichi 1270
Thread: Yellow 3/0 monocord
Rib:  Yellow 3/0 monocord  
Tails: 2 moose body fibers two inches long
Body: Creamy-yellow dry fly dubbing
Underwing: Light gray Hi-Viz
Overwing: White bucktail

Tie in the tails and ribbing. Dub the body three-quarters of the shank. Tie in the Hi-Viz underwing, then the white bucktail over top. Figure-eight dubbing over the wings and whip-finish the head.


Capt. Tony Petrella is a fishing guide who chases tarpon, snook and redfish out of Venice, Florida, half the year and Michigan trout and grouse the other half. Reach him at www.tightloopsflyfishing.