Tying the Madam X

Posted by  Tuesday, December 10 2013 6:00 am
expert

MadamX 8bThe Madam X is a versatile hopper pattern developed by author, guide and fly tyer Doug Swisher to trick resident trout of the Bitterroot River in Southwestern Montana. Although the Madam X was created as a hopper pattern, it can also be used successfully as a dry-fly attractor pattern. In addition to grasshoppers, this fly imitates various terrestrials including stoneflies, damselflies and other large insects on which big trout — especially browns — feed.

One of the key features of the Madam X is that, compared to other foam or synthetic hopper patterns, it casts extremely well, floats like a cork and is easy to see. In late summer, this fly should be on the top of your list when selecting the top half a Hopper-Dropper combo.

Your standard 5 weight with floating line is a good setup for fishing the Madam X, especially since you'll likely be fishing it around brush, wood and undercut banks. Hooking the fish of a lifetime is one thing; actually being able to maneuver it out of its domain is another, and it will be a whole lot easier with a stout rod. Leader length can be adjusted to suite the situation, but 9 foot seems to be the standard.

When fishing the Madam X, cast upstream and diagonal from your position. Don't cast once and move on; try repeated casts to the same water/cover, giving fish ample time to rise for the fly. The Madam X is lethal when dead drifted, but don't be afraid to give the fly a twitch now and again.

Madam X Materials List
Hook Curved Shank Fly Hook
Thread Yellow Uni Thread 8/0
Head Natural Deer Hair
Tail Natural Deer Hair
Body Yellow Rabbit Dubbing
Wings Natural Deer Hair
Legs White Round Rubber Legs
Indicator Orange Glow Yarn

Step-By-Step Tying Instructions for the Madam X

Step 1

Secure hook in vice.

MadamX 1

Step 2

Attach yellow Uni thread to hook shank, and then cut off tag end.

MadamX 2

Step 3

Using scissors, clip off a small portion of natural colored deer hair and place it in your hair stacker. Lightly tap the stacker a few times to align the deer hair tips. Measure the deer hair so that, once it's tied into place, it extends off of the end of the hook shank about the same distance as the hook gape. When you tie on the deer-hair tail, it should sit on top of the hook shank — don't allow it to spin around the hook. Wrap the rest of the deer hair with thread till you reach the 1/4 mark on the hook shank.

MadamX 3

Step 4

Using scissors, clip off a small portion of natural colored deer hair and place it in your hair stacker. Lightly tap the stacker a few times to align the deer hair tips. Measure the deer hair so that, once it's tied into place, it extends off of the end of the hook shank about the same distance as the hook gape. When you tie on the deer-hair tail, it should sit on top of the hook shank — don't allow it to spin around the hook. Wrap the rest of the deer hair with thread till you reClip off a slightly larger clump of natural deer hair than you used for the tail, and place it in the hair stacker. Tap to even the tips, and then remove the hair and measure it for desired wing length. (Ideally, you want the wing tips to end where the tail starts.) When tying the deer hair wing onto the hook, you want to spin the deer hair, allowing the hair to spin completely around the hook shank. (Read Spinning Deer Hair for more information on this tying technique.)ach the 1/4 mark on the hook shank.

MadamX 4

Step 5

Make sure all the deer hair is wrapped down neatly to form a nice, thick underbody before you start dubbing the body. If you have a sloppy underbody, you may find deer hair sticking out from underneath the dubbing. With a small amount of yellow rabbit fur, pinch dub the body of the fly. Continue dubbing the body of the fly as far forward as you can, trying to get the dubbing as tight as possible to the back of the hook eye. You should have a slight taper towards the front of the fly once you've finished dubbing the body.

MadamX 5

Step 6

Remove all dubbing from your thread and make one big turn of thread back toward the rear of the fly. Your thread should be approximately 1/8 to 1/4-inch behind the hook eye. With your hands (or bullethead tool, if you have one), push the deer hair extending over the hook eye back over the body of the fly. It will take some effort to get it to form a nice, round bullethead. When you are satisfied with the shape and size of the bullethead, make two wraps to tie the head down.

MadamX 6

Step 7

Cut two 2-inch long strips of small, white, round rubber legs. Tie each strip to the side of the fly body, flaring the elastic strips out into an X shape.

MadamX 7

Step 8

Lastly, cut a small bunch of orange glow yarn and tie it onto the top of the fly. After the yarn is tied down, whip finish and cement the thread ahead of the tie-in point for the yarn. Using your scissors, clip the yarn short and tease it with your bodkin until it has a full, round shape.

MadamX 8b
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Jason Akl
expert

Jason Akl is a writer, commercial fly tyer and guide with 15 years in the industry. Professionally, he's been a seasonal guide and fly tier that ties commercially and teaches tying classes to both adults and children. Most of his flies make their homes in fly shops in the northern Midwest but some have found their way as far as Europe. As a freelance writer, he's had many written pieces appear in both Canadian and American publications, as well as numerous global websites. When not on the bench or behind the computer, he spends time working with companies such as Daiichi Hooks, Monic Fly Lines or Gatti rods as part of their pro-staff doing product testing pieces and seminars.

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