Beginner’s Fly Tying: Emergent Sparkle Pupa

View our instructional video for tying this fly. This video includes several chapter markers so you can easily jump to the section you wish to view — visit our YouTube channel to easily jump to the chapter of your choice. Written instructions for each fly are presented below.

The fly pattern which I chose for the June Beginner’s class is the Emergent Sparkle Pupa, perhaps one of the “best kept secrets” for fishing trout and some of the smaller freshwater species. The Emergent Sparkle Pupa was developed by Gary LaFontaine, who was considered a world expert on the life history and etiology of caddisflies.

This pattern will be productive on any river through the summer and fall where there are emerging caddisflies. I have been a proponent of Gary LaFontaine’s flies for over 25 years and fished them productively on many of our local streams in central and western Maryland. So what is the key component of the LaFontaine Emergent Sparkle Pupa? It is the trilobal antron yarn fibers which are imbedded in the “sparkle” yarn, which is used both in the abdomen and the trailing shuck of the fly.

More information on Gary LaFontaine’s fly patterns and the development of his caddisfly patterns can be found in Caddisflies by Gary LaFontaine (1981) Lyons and Burford, Publishers. Please note that you need dubbing wax to successfully complete this fly.

Print instructions are below.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Tying Emergent Sparkle Pupa

Brief history: the Emergent Sparkle Pupa is often considered the most realistic imitation of caddis fly pupa as it rises to the water surface before emerging through the surface film as an adult. This fly and its “partner pattern”, the Deep Sparkle Pupa, were developed by the late Gary LaFontaine in the 1970s.


  • Hook – caddis style, sizes 10-16
  • Thread – 8/0 color to match basic color of the pattern
  • Underbody – Sparkle yarn blend (mixture of yarn A & B), e.g. gold and brown yarn or gold sparkle yarn and brown dubbing.
  • Overbody – Sparkle yarn (color to complement the abdomen underbody)
  • Wing – fine light-speckled tips of deer body hair
  • Head – brown dubbing

Tying Instructions

  • Pinch down the barb on a curved caddis hook, place hook in vise and begin thread wraps behind the hook eye, proceeding rearward approximately ½ way around the hook bend.
  • Preparing the overbody – separate one ply from either four-ply or three-ply sparkle yarn. Then fray one end of the yarn piece with a fine tooth comb or bodkin
  • Spread the strands sparsely on top of the hook shank and secure at the bend of the hook with the strands extending to the rear of the hook. Trim off the stubs over the hook shank.
  • Repeat the process with another set of strands tied to the bottom side of the hook bend. (Both sets of sparkle yarn should be facing away at the rear of the hook).
  • Preparing the underbody– select a 2” length of sparkle yarn (color A) and a 2” length of sparkle yarn or rabbit fur (color B). Finely chop these two materials with sharp scissors and blend them together into a dubbing mix*.
    • *Occasionally I use an old coffee grinder to make mixed dubbing.
  • Lightly coat about 1” of the thread with dubbing wax and touch dub* the loosely arranged dubbing blend onto the waxed thread. Continue wrapping the dubbed thread forward stopping short of the hook eye to allow insertion of a deer hair wing. Then, if necessary, pick out some of the underbody with a bodkin to make it shaggy.
    • *View the respective video for tying this fly for more detail on the ‘touch dubbing’ procedure.
  • Pull the top strands of Sparkle Yarn overbody forward and secure with several thread wraps.
  • Pull the bottom strands of Sparkle Yarn overbody forward and secure them with several thread wraps.
  • The overbody should now cover the entire underbody in a sparse envelope. If necessary, use a bodkin to subtly rearrange the sparkle yarn envelope.
  • Secure several fibers of deer hair immediately in front of the Sparkle yarn envelope with several thread wraps.
  • Lightly dub the thread, wrap this dubbed thread immediately over the deer hair butts and finish the fly into a small head. Secure the thread with several whip finishes and cut the thread.

By Don Fine