I first learned of this pattern when I visited the Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig Montana in early October about five years ago. On any trip I always drop in to the local shop to get the latest fishing report and fly recommendations. That day a staff member there told me of combination midge, Baetis, and Psuedo activity and took me over to the fly bins to show me their top rated nymph that serves to match all of these – Vince Wilcox’s Little green Machine(LGM). As the staff member pulled one from the bin I commented “This fly doesn’t look green to me but more brown and somewhat like a BH Pheasant Tail.” She laughed and said “The rumor (*) is that Wilcox first tied the pattern on the banks of the Green River below Flaming Gorge in Utah during a Baetis hatch. He really cleaned up when he fished it so he named it the Little Green Machine. The pattern is a descendant of the Pheasant Tail nymph hence the brown tone. We like it in sizes 16 through 20.” She further pointed out that “Although the brown one came first, there is now a chartreuse one in sizes 18 and 20 which matches the small Pseudos here on the Mo better than the original brown.” She finished by saying “Buy all the color and size versions, fish them as droppers or on a deep nymph rig, and you’ll catch lots of trout.” So, I did, I did, and I did. As a result this pattern is a fixture in my tail water nymph box.
Vince Wilcox runs a shop, Wiley’s Flies, in Ray Brook, New York. He has designed a number of patterns that are commercially tied and distributed. But the LGM is his best-selling pattern. It was first published on the Fly Fisherman web site in 2004. The version here is a copy of what I bought at Headhunters. Wilcox details more elaborate versions in his 2012 book and in two recent YouTube videos. But I’ve stuck with the version here and have only used it only in tail waters and spring creeks where small nymphs prevail. But Wilcox claims it works everywhere and I believe him.
The pattern starts with a 1XL nymph hook. A copper bead, one size smaller than traditionally used for the hook size, is at the head. True to its PT nymph influence, the tail is of PT fibers. The dominant feature of this pattern, however, is a wrapped micro tubing body. This creates a slim body with translucence. The thorax cover is Mirage tinsel. Gill like appendages are white antron fibers. The sparkly thorax is UV Ice Dub. It’s a pattern you can crank out in a few minutes. I tie the brown version in sizes 16, 18 and 20 and the chartreuse version in sizes 18 and 20. You should too.
Although I’ve used the listed Tiemco hook in my early ties of this pattern (and the flies in the photo are on this hook), I’ve recently been experimenting with the Model 21 Competition Nymph Hook sold through the Wholesale Fly Company website. This hook is barbless in a black nickel finish and has a regular shank length, not 1XL. So the Brown is tied on14, 16, and 18s and the Chartreuse on 16 and 18s. This yields a larger hook gap for the same size fly body. Seems perfect to me to hook and hold the biggies on the Mo. .
*I recently phoned Wilcox and he confirmed the origin rumor is true.
Hook: TMC 3761 or equivalent 1XL nymph hook (sizes 16 and 18 used in
flies in photo).
Bead: Copper Brass or Tungsten (2.4mm 16 hook, 2.0mm 18 or 20 hook)
Thread: UNI 8/0 (Camel for Brown version, Dun for Chartreuse version)
Tail: 3 Pheasant Tail Fibers
Body: Hareline MicroTubing
(Pheasant Tail for Brown version, Chartreuse for Chartreuse version)
Alternately Wapsi Stretch Tubing (Micro) in red and chartreuse can be used. The Wapsi tubing is just slightly larger than the Hareline but actual colors are the same.
Thorax Cover: Mirage Tinsel (Medium for 16 & 18 hook, Small for 20 hook)
Gills: White Antron Yarn (1/2 strand for 16 hook. 1/3rd strand for 18 or 20 hook
Thorax: Ice Dub, UV Brown
Mash barb on hook. Mount bead on hook and hook in vice.
Attach thread to hook at 1/3rd point behind eye.
Tie in PT fibers as a tail wrapping back to start of bend. Tips should extend about ½ shank length.
Bring thread back to attachment point. Break off butts of PT fibers.
Tie in tubing, tag end back, and stretch as you over wrap back to start of bend keeping tubing on far side of hook shank as you reach the bend. Bring thread back to attachment point.
Spiral wrap tubing forward in touching turns to thread, tie off and trim. Wrap thread to just behind bead.
Tie in Tinsel on top of hook shank, wrapping back to attachment point.
Tie in short piece (1+ inch) of the Antron yarn at the middle of space between attachment point and back of bead with “X” wrap. Yarn is centered side to side.
Dub thorax in “X” wraps around yarn leaving thread at back of bead.
Pull tinsel forward and tie off behind bead. Trim tinsel.
Whip finish and cement.
Trim yarn on both sides to length of bead and thorax region.