A Step-by-Step Tutorial

By: Don Shipp

Royal Stimulator

Hook:  Tiemco 220R, sizes 4 to 18.
Thread:   Fluorescent fire orange 6/0.
Tail:  Light or dark elk .
Rib:  Fine gold wire.
Abdomen:  Royal = 1/3 Peacock herl,
1/3 red floss, 1/3 peacock herl, with
brown hackle palmered through abdomen.
Additional Colors:  Olive, black, yellow, orange,
green, and tan, with brown hackle palmered through abdomen.
Wing:  Light elk or dark elk with white calf over-wing (optional).
Thorax:  Orange, yellow or cream dubbing.
Hackle:  Grizzly palmered through thorax.
Nose:  Fluorescent fire orange 6/0 thread, whipped finished.

The Stimulator is quite possibly one of the more popular and versatile patterns used in the United States.  Randall Kaufmann introduced the Stimulator pattern.  It is very much a knock-off of an earlier pattern called the Improved Sofa Pillow. 


The original Sofa Pillow was created by a fly fisherman/tier named Par Barnes, in the 1940’s.  As the story goes, Pat was guiding a group of Texans who, for the life of them, couldn’t catch a thing using small trout flies.  To solve the dilemma, Pat tied up a huge stonefly imitation using some random material lying around of his tying desk.  One of the Texans’ drawled, “Why, it’s as big as a sofa piller,” and the fly was so named.  Later on in the 1950’s, Barnes  made minor changes in the fly using a clipped palmered body hackle and renamed it the “Super Sofa Pillow” which later became known as the "Improved Sofa Pillow". 


Kaufmann’s Stimulator became popular more through the marketing efforts of Randall Kaufmann.  By merely changing the color of materials and adding various sizes, he created a pattern that has a wide variety of applications.  The larger sizes are used to imitate large stoneflies or salmonflies or maybe grasshoppers.  While in smaller sizes, the Stimulator is used for Caddis imitations.  


The Stimulator is truly a great pattern.  I keep a large supply of them on hand at all times and find myself tying one on when nothing else seems to be working.  If for no other reason, it makes a great edible “strike indicator” with a dropper nymph tied on below.  I like to use a Royal Stimulator with my Royal Prince nymph,   tied on as a dropper for searching out those fussy trout.


Gene Hall, of Cody, Wyoming,  (wildgene)  has some great variations you should check out at:    


I hope these instructions and accompanying photos will help you feel more comfortable in tying this truly remarkable trout fly.  If you have any questions,  please feel free to e-mail me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
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