Notes: The Blowtorch is Devin Olsen's varitation of a pattern called the Tag Nymph from Europe. Devin was a member of the US National Fly Fishing team and noticed that the Europeans, particularly the Czechs, were fishing with many tag nymphs. The Czech version of the Tag Nymph had a short hot spot tail, peacock body, a tungsten bead, and a soft hen hackle collar. While fishing the Vltava River in Czech Republic in 2014, Devin was recommended by Czech competitor, Michael Adamcik, to use the Tag Nymph on a particular stretch of the river. Devin had success with this pattern and decided to adapt the pattern to his local waters within the Sierra Nevada.
When I returned home I wondered if it would work on local waters, which were much different from the tea colored Vltava. I was living in Sacramento at the time and working on a project to provide a genetic assessment of rainbow trout in a bunch of gin clear rivers and streams on the western side of the Sierra Nevada Range. I was fortunate enough to get to “hook and line” sample for work. I doubted that the glitzy double hot-spotted Blowtorch nymph would work in rivers where I could see 10-20 feet into the pools. However, my doubts were assuaged and I was pleasantly surprised at its success. Several times I watched fish move 3 or more feet from their lies to inhale it. I then tested it on the more famous and hard fished rivers in the area, such as the Truckee, Yuba, Feather, Pit, and Lower Sac. It was successful everywhere I went . . . . Since leaving California, the fish catching prowess of the Blowtorch has followed me to Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and has been successful in domestic competitions. It has been particularly deadly this winter for trout in cold water conditions.
Devin modified the Tag Nymph to include two hot spots, the tail and a collar. He also utilized Ice Dubbing for the body since it was more durable than peacock herl and included a flashy rib. Devin chose a jig style hook such as a Hanak 400bl or a Firehole 516 but you can tie the pattern to a standard eye down nymph hook such as a Hanak 230bl.. Devin uses 3 strands of Glo-Brite Floss for the tag and trims it so that it does not extend past the curve of the hook. The ribbing is 1/100" Opal Flashabou with a 5x tippet that is counterwrapped to protect the flashabou. The body is dubbed thin with a taper up to the bead. The hackle is CDC which is stripped from one side of the quill for a sparse collar of 1-2 wraps. The fibers of the CDC can be pinched off to achieve the proper length. Finally, a small hot spot collar is applied just behind the bead, this can be ice dubbing or a colored thread.
Devin uses this pattern as a point fly or by itself. On a Euro rig the point fly is about 20 inches above the dropper. You can also use the Blowtorch as a dropper below a dry fly. He found that the pattern has more "pulling power" than most imitative nymphs and will "pull" the fish when they are not feeding or willing to move far. The Blowtorch is a great tool for searching for trout at the bottom of deep runs, along seams between fast and slow currents, in pockets and dark undercut banks, and anywhere else you think a trout may be hiding and picking off snacks that drift by. The pattern can be modified in many ways by changing the body coloration, the hot spots, and the collar material.