There is no word in the dictionary for emerger, it is exclusive to the fly fishing crowd. The next degree up from the emerger is those that have taken an interest in aquatic invertebrates, and hatches that are an important part of the sport. It is an essential if you are interested in getting better at fly fishing in general. Just like some fly fishers like to tie flies, or learn about the history of the local fishery, besides just being on the water all of the time isn’t always gratifying enough.
The emergers that I use are imitations of mayflies, caddis flies and such. Keep them simple enough so that they are easy to tie and also effective on the water, for super wild trout. There is usually a floating clump of deer hair or poly on an emerger pattern, due to the usefulness of buoyancy in some fly tying materials. I have fished both poly wing and deer hair wing patterns, so tying both is a pleasure for me.
The poly wing is either tri-lobal antron or polypropylene, which floats without a greasing of fly floatant. All you need to do is shake the water out on every cast and the fly will sit perfectly in the surface. If you want a little more buoyancy for choppy water, you can add some floatant to the thorax, which is the fat section of the fly, right behind the eye. I like using materials like dyed, or natural squirrel and mink, for the thorax. The spikey guard hairs make perfect leg and motion emulation.
The twisted deer hair emerger is a great pattern that I have used for many years now. The deer hair does not require any floatant, but you can add a little to enhance the flies position in the surface film. The soft hackle tail gives movement to the small emerger imitation, making the fly look like it is struggling to free itself from the shuck. Mayflies or caddis flies are not always dark in color, so fishing lighter patterns can bring huge reward.
Fishing the Bow River, downstream, where the hatches are large and so are the trout, emergers were like finding the secret key for success, when there was none. I do love fishing emergers that are so small that you need young eyes to see them. I watch the general area of where I think my fly is. A color fly line will help you see whereabouts the tip of the leader and fly may be. No strike indicator, but if you add one, you will know where the end of the fly line is on longer casts.
Sometimes you will see a snout come up and out of the water, or just the gentle sip of a huge trout, showing very subtle rings, on the rise. This is real fly fishing, as far as I am concerned. If the emerger sinks, let it. You can fish it just like a nymph in the surface film. Sometimes short stripping of fly line will bring the trout in for a hit.