Fly Tying: The Electric Lemon
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Fly Tying: The Electric Lemon

By: Jordan Oelrich

In this tutorial I will cover what turned out to be one of the most productive chironomid patterns for me last season, but first a little bit of a backstory on how it came to be.

It’s always interesting to find a new chironomid in a throat sample.  I understand it’s not normal to get excited over a bug the size of a sliver that looks just a bit different than the rest, but I’m okay with that.  On two occasions last year, I sampled fish that had been eating a chironomid I’d never come across before.  At first it looked like a standard chromie, but as I tilted it the bug took on a grass-green sort of shade.  Eventually I determined it was a chromie with a grass-green underbody (not all that uncommon I guess).  What really struck me was that the segmentation on the fly was a very fluorescent yellow.  It was strange but I decided to tie a few and sample on the water the next day.

I anchored up, tied on the strange little chironomid pupa and sent it down fourteen feet below the surface of the water to see what it could get done.  I had almost no confidence in it, it seemed too weird to work better than the size 18 gray and black I was about to tie on the other line.  It didn’t take long for a fish to climb on to the new bug, hitting it so hard that all I heard was the fly line cutting through the water before the fish broke me off.  Next a gorgeous triploid of eight or nine pounds cartwheeled right next to my boat, leader attached to the weird little fly hanging out of its mouth.

I lost count of how many fish the “Electric Lemon” took that day, but it was substantially more than any other fly I had in my box.  I know this because by the end of the day I was down to my last one while trying to find a fly that worked just as well to put on the other line.  No such luck.  Here’s a step-by-step on a fly that has earned a permanent spot in my fly box.


  • Hook: Dai-Riki #285 (usually size 16 or 18, remember this is a 3xl hook shank)

  • Gill Material: UNI-Stretch White

  • Bead: 5/64 Black Nickel for size 16, 1/16 for size 18 or smaller

  • Underbody: UTC 70 Olive Green

  • Body: Anti-Static Bag or Neutral Grey Window Tinting Sheet

  • Rib: 1 long strand UTC 70 Yellow tied in as two strands (twisted together to form rib)

  • Thorax: UTC 70 Rusty Brown

Step 1: Slide bead onto hook with the larger tapered end facing the eye of the hook

Step 2: Tie in UNI-Stretch, whip finish & cut thread then slide your bead forward.  Once the bead has been brought to the front of the fly you can trim your gill material accordingly.

Step 3: Lock in your UTC 70 Olive Green thread behind the bead with 3 turns.  From here take your long strand of UTC 70 and double it around your tying thread (equal lengths of 4-5″).  This is easier than tying in two separate strands and when spun together allows the rib to show up better.

Step 4:  Tie in a narrow strip of anti-static bag or window tinting film.  The original was tied with the window tint so that’s what I’ve chosen here.

Step 5:  Wrap both materials back with your thread, I don’t pinch my barbs when I’m tying chironomids because I use the barb as a reference point to keep my flies consistent.  Form a gradual taper from the back of the fly to the front.

Step 6:  Wrap your body material forward, leaving no spaces in between.  The green underbody will shine through more once the fly is finished and has been glued.

Step 7:  Twist your UTC 70 quite a bit until it forms one strand, and while keeping a firm grip on the ribbing material wrap it forward to form segmentation.  This is where a rotary style vice really comes into play.

Step 8:  Whip finish and cut your olive-green thread, then add a few wraps of UTC 70 Rusty Brown for the thorax.  This is where using small thread (either 70 denier or 8/0) has a huge advantage over using thicker thread.  I can add a thorax overtop of a section of fly that is already quite full without adding too much bulk.


Step 9:  Coat the fly with the finish of your choice (I know there are a million different UV resins on the market, but I still swear by brushable Zap-A-Gap)

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