The Callibaetis Spinner

The Callibaetis Spinner

The preferred food of finicky fish

  • By: A. K. Best
I love it when I find a Callibaetis hatch, because trout seem to prefer this bug to many others that may be hatching at the same time. However, it's not a colorful fly: It is a delicately gray insect with a prominently segmented body, long tail fibers and speckled wings. It also has an enormous hump in its thorax.

Sometimes, if there is a stream near a pond or lake, you can find Callibaetis landing on the stream. This can be a little confusing until you net the water to find what all those rising trout are eating. The sinner fall often occurs at the same time the duns are on the water; it all happens during daylight hours and seems to last a very long time. In fact, if you know there has been a Callibaetis hatch, you can often tie on a spinner and bring fish up to it.

My favorite pattern for the Callibaetis spinner is as follows:

Hook:Your favorite dryfly hook in sizes 18 through 14.
Thread: Danville's 6/0 #31 Gray. (Note: if you want 8/0, spin the bobbin!)
Tailing: Light smoky dun spade hackle or Cocque de Leon fibers.
Body: One stripped and dyed to light smoky dun rooster neck hackle quill.
Wing: Oversize grizzly hackle.
Thorax: Light to medium dun dryfly dubbing. I prefer rabbit with no guard hairs.
Hackle: None.

1) Attach the thread to the hook about two hook-eye spaces behind the eye and wind to the beginning of the bend. Take two or three turns over the last turn to create a tiny thread bum to cock the tails up slightly.

2) Tie in the tail fibers to be at least hook length plus half a hook gap. Clip off the butts two hook eye spaces behind the eye.

3) Select one dyed quill and clip off the tip at a point where its remaining diameter is equal to the diameter of the hook, thread and tailing butts.

4) Lash the clipped tip down at the clipped tailing butts and wind the thread over the quill to the last turn of thread holding the tailing. Bring the thread forward.

5) Wind the quill forward in tightly nesting turns to within three hook-eye spaces of the eye. Lift the butt and clip it off on top of the hook. Cover the butt with thread.

6) Select a light but well marked grizzly hackle from the side of the neck whose hackle fibers are two hook sizes larger than the hook you're tying on. For example, use a size 12 hackle for a size 16 hook. These are often referred to as spades and should contain no web.

7) Trim away all the softer fibers near the butt and tie the butt on top of the clipped off body quill with the shiny side down.

8) Take only three turns of hackle, tie down the tip and clip it off.

9) Use your right thumb and forefinger to press the hackle collar into two halves.

10) Carefully figure eight-wrap thread around the two halves to form horizontal wings.