The Low Rider has appeared in numerous publications like American Angler, Fly Fisherman and Fly Tyer magazine as well as several books and in fly shops and streams around the world. These things are deadly and will produce during baetis and caddis hatches!
A couple of decades ago I began tying many of my dry fly patterns on emerger style hooks, although there were only a few available commercially. The Klinkhamer created by Hans van Klinken in the 1980’s was one of the first dry flies tied on emerging style hooks to be popularized in the US and led to many improvements in fly design. I found that tying on this style of hook allowed me to imitate several different stages at one time. For instance, the Low Rider is able to imitate a cripple, emerger and an adult. The Hook style allows the shuck and the abdomen to hang beneath the surface, much like a cripple, an insect that has been injured, or a struggling emerger breaking free of the surface film. Generally fish are inherently lazy, given the choice they will target insects unable to escape rather than expend their energy on one that is likely to take to the air. The addition of the trailing shuck gives the fly a more realistic appearance on the water and helps to keep the tail end of the fly beneath the surface. The micro tubing abdomen looks realistic and is extremely durable and easy to work with, while being able to withstand the pressure of teeth and forceps, the death of a most smaller dry flies. Different anglers see different colors better than others, the tri colored post remains visible throughout the day as lighting conditions change and the contrast of colors used for the post makes it easier for anglers to see it on the water. The cdc wing enhances the buoyancy and visibility on the water. Many of my clients that have difficulty seeing smaller flies on the water are reluctant to fish a size eighteen dry fly until they try the Low Rider. Once they have fished one they generally buy dozens of them, not only because they can see it so well but for its reputation on tail waters and spring creeks where clear water and heavy pressure can make them some of the toughest fisheries. If you encounter difficult conditions like low and clear water or weary fish try using a 9’ 5X leader with several feet of 6 or 7X tippet added to the end of your leader, position yourself well upstream of the fish and be certain to drift the fly over the fish first; not the leader or fly line. If you ask anyone that ties and fishes the Low Rider they will most often attest to its ability to produce when nothing else will, why not be one of them?
How to fish Wilcox's Low Rider:
The Low Rider is a fantastic Baetis pattern that can be fished as a cripple, emerger. The Parachute hackle allows for the pattern to ride flush on the surface while the CDC provides additional floatation and mimics the movements of real wings fluttering on the surface after emergence along with a sparse amount of flash. I designed these on curved caddis hooks which allows for the trailing shuck and abdomen to hang in the water, imitating an emerging insect struggling to escape. Given the choice, fish will almost always decide to take the insects stuck in the surface film rather than one that is able to readily fly away. You will likely notice with the majority of my dry fly patterns offered I have chosen this style of hook to take advantage of this behavior. These can be fished effectively for a range of Baetis hatches through out the season by simply matching the size and color to the hatch you are fishing.
Fishing these in tandem as a trailer several feet behind a larger fly like the AC Caddis has proven to be effective wherever trout roam since Baetis and Caddis hatches often overlap, that being said it has taken more than its fair share of trout amid the Caddis hatches as well. Trailing something like a Micro Midge or Little Green Machine several feet behind it on lighter tippet, like, 7X, can also be a deadly combo since midges are likely to be hatching at any given time. This pattern was designed with the discriminating pallet in mind and is a must have from April to October.
Low Rider – Pheasant Tail
Hook: Mustad C49S, Size 16 to 18
Thread: Black, 8/0
Shuck: Burnt Orange, Antron
Abdomen: Pheasant Tail, Micro tubing
Underwing, Pearl, Midge flash
Wing: Natural, CDC
Post: Fl. Chartreuse, Fl. Orange and Fl. Yellow, High Vis
Thorax: Olive Brown, Ice Dub