If you are like me, as the buds begin to show themselves and the air gets that small kick of an extra 10 degrees, your mind wanders to hatches. Can't be long now, right? I enjoy them all, from the vise to the stream. I begin filling my boxes and picking out the tattered soldiers from last season in order to make room for new recruits, and each year I find the same situation. The bins that house my Sulfur patterns are either empty or contain 1-or-2 raggedy-ass flies. The Sulfur hatch is my favorite hatch. Mostly due to the fact that it comes off on the vast majority of Pennsylvania streams, is best in the evenings (for those who work), and can be fished "top-to-bottom".
By identifying patterns for the main phases of this hatch, you can effectively fish "Sulfurs" all day long, and long after the main hatch has ended. I carry 4 patterns, all on #16 but varying style hooks. For me, they work and are all I need. For you? Well, that is for you to decide, but here they are.
The C2C Sulfur Nymph
The C2C is a variation of the hares-ear. But tied much slimmer and with no Hares-ear. The original C2C is tied with all Ginger dubbing. The Sulfur variation is tied with natural dun Hareline.
It is my only nymph when fishing sulfur water. Particularly in the early evenings. A heavy nymph that sinks fast.
The Sulfur Lite
The Sulfur Lite is truly lights-out effective for me in the very early stages of the hatch when fish are beginning to rise but won't seem to take anything you have. I fish this pattern with a greased tippet done leaving the first 6" of tippet above the fly ungreased. It is unweighted and you want it to drift freely just under the surface.
Sulfur Light Recipe
Hook: #16 Curved Nymph
Thread: 8/0 Olive Dun Uni
Tail & Abdomen: Pheasant Tail
Wing-case: Pheasant Tail
Thorax: #8 Hareline Pale Yellow
Legs: Lemon-Barred Wood Duck
The LTD "Long Transitional Dun" was tied in 2000 for the Sulfur emergence on the West Branch of Pine Creek in North-Central Pennsylvania, and published in FlyTyer Winter 2009 Edition. It is the most productive Sulfur emerger pattern I have fished to date, and fishes well through the duns and into tail-outs on cripples after the hatch. If I needed to carry one fly in my box for Sulfurs...this one is it. I go to it as soon as fish begin to actively feed.
The Sulfur Thorax
This variation of the Thorax is the only dun pattern I fish for the hatch. It sits low in the film and I like to go to it as dusk settles in and just before it's getting too dark to follow my LTD, or if they begin to ignore the LTD.
Those are my Sulfur bins and they allow me to fish productively through the entire hatch.