This step-by-step guide will show you how to tie a very effective variation of the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear. The GRHE (short for Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear) is a versatile mayfly nymph that can be used on rivers and lakes.
In cleaner water, I use it extensively for our local Smallmouth Yellowfish. Although I’ve been tying the fly for many years, I stumbled across this variation quite recently.
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- Difficulty Level: Moderate
- Tying Time: 5 minutes
- Materials: Hook, bead (optional), thread, Coq de Leon, Krystal flash, fine dubbing, hare’s mask, and peacock herl
- Hook Size: 18 – 10
What Is a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear?
The exact origin of the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, or GRHE, isn’t known.
It does however appear in some of the very early fly fishing journals. Since then, it has been a staple fly for many trout fishermen. And rightly so.
How to Fish a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear?
The GRHE is equally effective in lakes and rivers. However, the method to fish it differs for each scenario.
For lakes, there are two very effective methods. The first is to use the fly in tandem with other nymphs, such as Buzzers, Bloodworm Larva, or Damselfly Nymphs. Once the cast is made, the flies are allowed to sink and then slowly retrieved using a figure-of-eight retrieve.
The second method is called dry-and-dropper. The GRHE is suspended behind a buoyant dry fly. This method works well when there’s a slight breeze that allows the dry fly, and hence the nymph, to drift freely. When a fish takes the nymph, the dry fly will act as a strike indicator.
The dry-and-dropper method works well on rivers too. The combination is cast upstream and allowed to drift through likely fish-holding areas. The dry fly will signal a take on the nymph.
The GRHE can be used in more specialized nymphing techniques. A combination of two, or more, flies are dead drifted through likely fish-holding water. A sighter or strike indicator will show you when a fish has taken the fly.
Materials You’ll Need to Tie a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear
You need the following materials to tie a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, so open up your fly tying kit and get ready.
Use a long shank nymph or strong dry fly hook. Match the size of the hook to the mayfly species that are prevalent in the waters you’re fishing. In general, a GRHE can be tied on any hook sizes ranging from 10 – 18.
If you’ve been tying flies for some time, chances are that you already have a thread preference for nymphs. If not, choose a strong flat-laying thread 70 Denier or finer. Match the color of the thread to that of the fly.
Recommended 50 Denier 12/0 Thread:
→ Semperfli – Nano Silk 50D 12/0
Recommended 70 Denier or 8/0 Fly Tying Thread:
→ Ultra Thread 70 Denier UT
Use a counter-sunk tungsten bead. The size of the bead should be chosen according to the size of the fly and the sink-rate you want to achieve.
A good selection of beads will include sizes ranging from 2 – 4 mm. You can make use of the following colors on a GRHE:
Coq de Leon
Coq de Leon fibers are used as the tail of the fly. You can also use other feathers, such as partridge and pheasant. For a very durable option, use microfibbets or even paintbrush fibers.
Recommended Coq de Leon Feathers:
→ Whiting Farms Coq De Leon Hen Soft Hackle with Chickabou
The original ribbing material for the Gold Ribbed Hair’s Ear is gold wire.
I like using material that gives the abdomen some flash. For this effect, I make use of Krystal flash. Great colors are:
- Root beer
Recommended Copper Ribbing Wire:
→ Phecda 10pcs Assorted Colors 0.3MM Copper Wire
Make use of a fine dubbing that will allow you to form a neat and slender abdomen. On mayflies, always avoid overdressing the abdomen. A slender body will create a great looking profile and will allow the fly to sink better.
Great colors to tie the Gold Ribbed Hair’s Ear in include:
The wing case folds over the thorax fibers and should contrast the color of the abdomen.
If you tied a light-colored abdomen, use dark material for the wing case. Good options for the wing case include:
- Pheasant tail (in natural, black, or olive)
- Peacock herl
- Scud back material
Recommended Natural Pheasant Tails:
→ 20-22″ Assorted Hgshow 10pc Assorted Natural Pheasant Tails
Recommended Peacock Herl:
→ Hareline Strung Peacock Herl
Recommended Scud Back Material:
→ Scud Back Materia 1/8″ Wide Brown
The thorax is made from long fibers pulled from a hare’s mask. These fibers are placed in a dubbing loop, or split thread, and spun to imitate mayfly legs. Good colors of hare’s mask to have on hand are:
Recommended Hare’s Mask:
→ Hareline Hare’s Mask Grade #1
Dubbing wax is used to form a slender dubbing noodle for the abdomen. It also prevents the hare’s mask fibers from falling out of the split thread while spinning the abdomen. You can make use of any dubbing or thread wax of your choice.
Recommended Dubbing Wax:
→ Loon Outdoors Swax High Tack Dubbing Wax
Make use of standard head cement, super glue, or UV resin to seal the fly after the whip finish.
Recommended Head Cement:
→ Loon Outdoors Water Based Head Cement System
Tools Needed to Tie a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear
You’ll need the following tools to tie a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear:
Let's Get Started!
How To Tie a Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear
Follow the step-by-step procedure below to learn how to tie an excellent Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear:
- Hook: Mouche 8443 size 16
- Bead: 2mm Tungsten bead in gold
- Thread: Semperfli Nanosilk 50D White
- Tail: Coq de Leon
- Ribbing: Pearl Krystal flash
- Abdomen: Hemingway’s Hare’s Ear Plus UV tan
- Wing case: Peacock herl
- Thorax: Natural hare’s mask
- Dubbing wax: Loon Outdoors Low Tack Swax
- UV resin: Solarez Thin
- Brown permanent marker
Step 1: Place The Bead On The Hook
The countersunk tungsten bead has a small hole on the one side and a large hole on the other.
Slide the bead, small hole first, over the point of the hook. Allow the bead to sit against the hook’s eye.
Step 2: Secure The Hook in The Vise
Place the hook between the jaws of the vise. The hook shank must be level and the point and barb (if present) should be visible.
When you’re happy with the positioning, secure the hook firmly with the jaws.
Step 3: Attach Thread To The Hook
Hold the tip of the thread in your left hand and place the thread over the hook shank, about ¼ shank length behind the eye. Make 5 – 6 touching wraps forward.
Then, with touching wraps, run the thread over itself until you reach the loose tag end. Let the bobbin hang freely and cut off the excess.
Step 4: Lay a Thread Foundation
Run the thread forward with touching turns until you reach the bead.
Then, wrap the thread backward with touching turns until you reach the end of the hook.
Step 5: Measure The Tail
Cut about 5 Coq de Leon fibers from a feather. Place the fibers over the hook shank pinched between your right thumb and index finger.
The tail must be the same length as the total body length. That is, from the bead to the point where you stopped the thread foundation.
Step 6: Tie In The Tail
Transfer the measured Coq de Leon fibers to your left thumb and index finger. Place the tie in point, that you measured in the previous step, over the position of the thread. Tie in making use of 3 pinch wraps. Make one wrap behind the tail and pull the thread forward.
This will make the tail fibers flare out. Run the thread forward, securing the left-over material until you reach the bead. Cut off the excess fibers.
Step 7: Tie In The Ribbing Material
Cut a section of your ribbing material and place the tip just behind the bead. Secure with a couple of thread wraps.
Wrap the thread backward, while maintaining tension on the ribbing material, and stop when you reach the base of the tail.
Step 8: Dub The Abdomen
Apply a thin coating of dubbing wax to the thread. Take a small amount of your chosen dubbing and form a slender dubbing noodle around the thread.
Wrap the noodle forward around the shank, pulling and twisting the noodle tight after each turn. Stop the abdomen when you’ve covered 2/3 of the shank.
Step 9: Rib The Abdomen
Wrap the ribbing in the opposite direction than the dubbing. Create evenly spaced segments.
Once you reach the end of the abdomen, secure the rubbing with the thread and cut off the excess. Move the thread behind the bead.
Step 10: Tie In The Rib Case
Select 3 peacock herl fibers and cut their tips to align. Tie the tips in just behind the bead and cut off the excess.
Wrap the thread backward keeping the peacock on top of the hook shank. Stop when you reach the end of the abdomen.
Step 11: Prepare The Dubbing Brush
Step 12: Spin The Dubbing Brush
Pull the bobbin holder outward to let out about 4 inches of thread. Let the bobbin holder hang from your finger, creating a 90-degree angle in the thread.
Spin the bobbin holder. When the hare’s fibers start spinning, push the twists from the tip of the bobbin holder to the base of the brush with your thumb and forefinger.
Step 13: Palmer The Thorax
Palmer the hare’s fibers forward, creating the thorax.
Stop when you reach the bead. If the brush is too long, pull some fibers out of the brush.
Step 14: Comb Out The Fibers
Take a piece of velcro or a proper velcro brush and comb any trapped fibers out of the thorax.
You’ll notice that some of the fibers break free during this step, but that’s absolutely fine.
Step 15: Pull Over The Wing Case
Split the fibers on the top of the thorax. Now comb them down and hold in place. Pull the peacock herl fibers over the thorax.
Secure the peacock herl with the thread just behind the bead.
Step 16: Whip Finish The Fly
Color the white thread with a brown permanent marker. Make two whip finishes, pulling the thread tight after each.
You can apply considerable strain on the Nanosilk thread, so don’t be scared of pulling tight. Cut off the thread.
Step 17: Seal The Fly
Apply a drop of UV resin on top of the fly. Allow it to cover part of the wing case and the bead. This is very similar to the sealing procedure of the Copper John.
When you’re happy with the glob of glue on the top of the fly, cure the UV resin with a UV torch.
The Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear
Now You Know
How To Tie a Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear
Tie some of these GRHE nymphs up and the next time when you’re on a trout stream give them a try. I can guarantee you that after the day’s fishing you’ll understand why the GRHE has stood the test of time.
Thank you once again for taking the time to work through one of our step-by-step guides with me. Please share this with you fly fishing and tying friends. Also, leave any questions or comments at the bottom of the page.