Foam Hex Fly

Dean Wellman, BRSC Financial Secretary – Brule, WI

The Hexagenia limbata mayfly is the major hatch on the upper Brule. I have been fishing this hatch since my early teens. They usually start around the last week of June to the first week of July. This year’s hatch will likely be early.

Our pattern this month offers another twist to using foam. Foam’s excellent floatation keeps the fly floating reliably during the nighttime when it’s sometimes hard to know if your fly is waterlogged. I often use a white deer hair wing for night fishing to help me know where the fly is.

There are many hex patterns. Tim Neal’s Hex Parachute is another excellent one that can be found on YouTube (click on Hex Parachute). Tim also does an excellent job showing how to tie parachute style flies.


  1. Hook: #6 2xl to 3xl light wire dry fly hook.
  2. Thread: Yellow 4/0 Kevlar.  Start the thread at the mid-point of the hook and wrap forward to the hook eye.
  3. Tail: Moose mane or body hair longer than the body.  I attach several fibers starting ¼ inch from the hook eye, wrapping with spaced wraps to the hook bend.  The spaced wraps trap air in the fibers.  Use one wrap under the fibers at the hook bend to splay them and another back on top. Trim out excess fibers to your liking and bring the thread back to starting point, 1/4 inch from the eye of hook.
  4. Body: 1/8th inch thick yellow Wapsi Fly foam. Cut a strip about 2.5 inches long that is 3mm wide at the small end and 5 mm wide at the large end.  First, stretch the foam, starting with the small end, for about an inch and then relax the stretch so that it becomes larger and thicker to the wide end.  Now, attach the foam securely by the small end starting 1/4 inch from the hook eye.  Using open wraps, secure it to the hook bend.  You should have about 2 inches of foam left for the body.  Put a small drop of super glue on the shank and spread it out, giving it a minute to set up.  This will stop everything from twisting around the hook shank when you wrap the remaining foam.  Wrap the foam back to the hook eye using tight wraps at first and looser wraps at the end to form a nicely tapered body.  Leave about 3/16th of an inch before the hook eye.  At this point, decide if you want to trim off the excess foam or use it to finish the head.  If you want to finish the head with the foam, leave 3/16th of an inch space to the eye.  If not, tie off the foam about 1/8th of an inch from the eye.
  5. Wing: White, olive yellow, or natural deer body hair.  Make an upright wing with a post for the hackle.  The foam leaves a nice ramp to tie in the wing.
  6. Hackle: Yellow grizzly, brown olive, or brown and grizzly combined.  It’s your choice.  Tie the hackle in parachute style.  It’s important to start the hackle wraps at the highest on the post with succeeding wraps below each other so the hackle doesn’t come off the wing.  Secure the hackle and whip finish.  (Or, secure the hackle and use the remaining foam tag to wrap the head before whip finishing.
  7. Last touch: Use a brown marker color up the body so that it is a dusky, yellow-brown. This is not necessary for night fishing.

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