The RS-2: The Most Versatile Fly on the Market

The RS-2 is a small nymph, size 18-24, used to imitate small mayflies, callibaetis, blue wing olives, and midges . It is tied in various colors including black, dun, purple, and Adams gray. The flies’ profile is a slender body, forked tail, and the emerging wing much like that of small mayflies and midges. The RS-2 can be fished as an emerger, dropper fly on any two fly rigs, and sight fished for wary trout.

Commercially Produced RS-2

The RS-2 is commercially tied by Umpqua Feather Merchants and created by Rim Chung. It is tied in multiple variations; flashback, original emerger, sparkle wing, mercury bead headed and upright wing, in black, olive, Adams gray and dun. These are all offered in sizes 18-24.

RS2 Emerger Dun
RS-2 Emerger Dun
sparkely wing rs 2
Sparkle Wing RS-2 Adams Gray

RS-2 Variations

The RS-2 is an extremely simple and easily adjusted fly to tie. Colors you can experiment with are purple, PMD, white, and brown. However, the RS-2, like many fly patterns, can be altered to your preference. Personally, I like to add a small black brass bead to the flies I will use as a dropper on a two nymph rig. When tying the RS-2 to fish just below the surface as an emerger, consider using CDC, or a small piece of foam as your winging material. You can even imitate a caddis with a deer hair wing. This would be a solid option for under a hopper in the afternoons before the caddis emerge in the evenings. I also prefer to tie them in Adams gray and PMD in sizes 14 and 16. Also, instead of a split tail, which is much harder to tie on size 24 flies, use peeled off fibers of grizzly hackle.

Variation Possibilities

PMD RS-2 with grizzly tail
 Size 16 Bead Head Adams Gray RS-2
Size 16 Bead Head Adams Gray RS-2

Fishing The RS-2

My favorite way to fish the RS-2 is to sight fish it. I like how the fly is unweighted allowing you to fly fish it in shallow water. If you can cast farther in front of the fish, the fly can break the surface tension and will, more often than not, fall right into the zone.

The most popular time to fish this fly is while fish appear to be slurping drys but are actually feeding just below the surface on emergers. Approach this situation with a leader that has floatant rubbed onto it 6-24 inches above the fly. By keeping a tight leader the floatant will suspend the fly just below the surface like an emerger.

Another way to fish this fly is as a dropper pattern. Patterns for droppers on a hopper-dropper tend to be more of an attractor pattern, so this is where you can experiment with your own variations.

Tying the RS-2


How to Tie RS-2 Video

Want to learn more and watch another tutorial? Check our RS-2 tie of this!

Spring fly fishing using a RS-2 fly
Spring fly fishing using a RS-2 fly

Written by Noah Dahlke

Written by Noah Dahlke I have lived in 6 states and love fly-fishing for as many different fish as possible, but cutthroat trout is by far my favorite. I am a fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants since age 14. Fly fishing and tying are my two favorite passions, but I also love to hunt and camp with my family. You can follow me at @noahdahlke on Instagram.

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Let’s hear some of your thoughts in the comments! How did Noah do? Do you have a favorite versatile fly you use?

2 thoughts on “The RS-2: The Most Versatile Fly on the Market

  1. Thanks for this RS-2 blog and the video. It’s interesting – I’ve heard of this fly but never gave it too much thought until I read this. Now I suppose I’ll need a bunch of these in my fly box. I enjoy finding flies that people are confident in and fishing them myself. So many flies, so little time! HA!

    All the best and tight lines! – Freddy

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