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Chubby Chernobyl – Fly Pattern Info

The Chubby Chernobyl is a great dry fly pattern that has many uses. It can be used on it’s own for a stonefly or hopper imitation. You can also put bead head nymphs below it to fish a “dry dropper” setup.

When it comes to summer and fall fly fishing, the Chubby Chernobyl should have a place in every trout anglers fly box. This Stonefly dry flat out catches fish, and it makes a great indicator as well. With varying sizes, you can fish this fly on small streams or large rivers. Trout everywhere will eat it. It is good to have a selection of sizes based on where you are going to fish. For larger rivers here in Colorado, I prefer sizes #8-#12. For smaller creeks, I will fish sizes #14-#18.

This article will dive into how to fish the Chubby, and which colors and sizes work best. If you’ve never fished a Chubby Chernobyl, now is the time to start. For most anglers, it will quickly become their favorite fly for fishing a dry dropper setup.

The Chubby Chernobyl Floats Very Well

It is hard to find a dry fly that floats well for hours. Often times, they will sink and we will have to use dry shake so they can float again. Due to the Chubby’s foam body and poly wing, it stays floating for very long periods of time. You can often float a Chubby all day without having to use dry shake.

Chubby Chernobyl flies can also hold up large amounts of weight. You can put 2 nymphs below it and it will still float. This makes it an awesome indicator, without having to actually fish an indicator. It is extremely sensitive to strikes, and works as well as a standard yarn indicator.

For fly fisherman who want to keep their fly on the water, the Chubby is a great choice.

The Chubby Chernobyl Looks Like Many Things

Although it looks a lot like a stonefly, this fly can also imitate hoppers or other terrestrials. It just looks buggy, and trout respond to it quite well.

Once the summertime rolls around, you can fish a Chubby Chernobyl system all the time. I will often put 2 nymphs under it to make a dry-dropper-dropper system. This will be my rig through summer, and into fall. When the hoppers come out in September and October, the Chubby continues to produce fish.

If you’re into fishing small creeks, simply size it down. A micro Chubby in a #14 or #16 size can work wonders. These small versions are often called “Stubby Chubbies” and you can tie them down to a size #18.

The Chubby Chernobyl Can Be Tied In Multiple Ways

There are so many color options when tying this fly. You can play around with the foam color, leg color, and wing color. You can also use different dubbing blends for the body.

I like to use crazy colors on some of my Chubby flies. Last summer, I experimented with blue and pink versions. Despite how crazy they look, the fish responded quite well to them. It is nice to tie variations that you can’t find in a fly shop – so I encourage tyers to make their own custom Chubbies. The options are endless, so try out different variations when you’re at the vise.

If you want to get more technical with it, you can tie a Chubby to look like a specific bug. A yellow Chubby or “Chubby Sally” looks like a Yellow Sally stonefly. By using a red antron tail and yellow foam, it is a pretty realistic imitation of a Sally.

The Chubby Works Basically Anywhere

On pretty much any trout river, the Chubby Chernobyl will produce fish. If you are fishing the warmer months of the year, the Chubby is a good go-to pattern when you’re not sure what to use.

Although it is a popular fly in the American west, it will work all over the place. Trout are pretty simple creatures, and they are accustomed to seeing many different bugs in the water. Since the Chubby looks so realistic, trout will believe it and bite it most of the time.

The Chubby Is Easy To See

Due to its large poly yarn wing, even anglers with poor eyesight can see the Chubby easily. This is often not the case with dry fly fishing, as small dry flies are hard to see.

Since the Chubby is just as easy to see as a strike indicator, fly anglers can have success with it no matter what the conditions are. This is why many anglers prefer to use it instead of a strike indicator. Basically, the Chubby Chernobyl is a strike indicator with a hook on it!

This makes it a perfect fly for fast riffles and choppy water. Even when the water is rough, it will still float high and be visible. This also makes it a good fly for fishing out of a raft or a drift boat. When float fishing out of a boat, you want to fish flies that are low maintenance. Re-applying floatant all the time can get pretty annoying, so choosing a low maintenance fly can make your float more enjoyable.

You Can Fish The Chubby Chernobyl In Different Ways

Instead of just “dead drifting” the Chubby, you can give it some action. Stoneflies and Hoppers move around when they’re on the water, because as they’re floating they’re also trying to swim. Giving your Chubby fly some movement can really produce bites. Using sloppy mends or jigging it, you can add life to the fly.

Dead drifting is when you have your flies floating the same speed as the current. This works great for most nymphing and dry fly scenarios. However, if the fly you are imitating actually moves in real life, it is best to give it some action. If you’ve ever seen a real hopper or stonefly on the rivers surface, you’ll see that they’re moving around in distress. This is why moving your Chubby can work very well.

You can also dead drift the Chubby Chernobyl, and that can work as well. Just play around with techniques until you start getting bites.


There is a reason the Chubby Chernobyl is so popular. Pretty much all western fly shops carry this fly, because it works in so many states.

If you’re looking for your next go-to summer/fall fly pattern, pick up some Chubby Chernobyls for your next fly fishing outing. Or, if you’re a fly tyer – spin some Chubbies up!