About the Pheasant Tail Nymph Trout Fly
Originally tied by Frank Sawyer, the Pheasant Tail Nymph is one of the oldest of modern nymphs.
A few good variations have been developed over the years, but when you strip them away, it's still Sawyer's elegantly simple, devastatingly effective nymph. This is one of the flies that will never go out of fashion - whatever the time of year, whatever the fish you are after.
The small, brown Pheasant Tail Nymph suggests a wide range of living creatures that Trout are fond of devouring.
In streams and rivers, the Pheasant Tail nymph can be presented just below the surface, but more often it is usually at its most productive when fished close to the river bed on a dead drift. To achieve the right depth, you may need to put weight on the leader or use the Pheasant Tail on a dropper with a heavier fly on the point, possibly a gold head pattern.
In Chalk streams and spring creeks you can often see the Trout at its feeding station - cast upstream and allow the current to present your Pheasant Tail in a natural manner – this is truly electrifying angling.
While the fly works well as a searching nymph, it can also be productive during a hatch. More trout than you might suspect are taking nymphs off the bottom rather than duns off the top; it has been suggested that the ratio can be as much as 10 : 1
On lakes, this is a very effective fly in the middle of the day during Callibaetis season. Use a Floating Line with greased sunken leader, retrieve the fly very slowly just below the surface. Pay particular attention to shallow areas near weed beds. The Flashback Pheasant Tail is especially useful before, during, and immediately after a Callibaetis hatch.
If the fish are feeding at lower levels use Intermediate Line and let the line sink (experiment by counting to one self the seconds) until finds the correct depth. If the fish are way down put a fast sinking fly line on and slowly retrieve your Pheasant Tail nymph close to the lakes bed.
Country of origin for this trout fly: England
This trout fly is designed to be fished on Dams & Reservoirs, Still Water fish
- Hook: 10 – 16
- Thread: Fine copper wire
- Underbody: Build up of fine copper wire
- Tail: Cock pheasant tail fibres, rich brown
- Body: Cock pheasant tail fibres, rich brown
- Thorax: Cock pheasant tail fibres, rich brown
- Wingcase: Cock pheasant tail fibres, rich brown
Take the copper wire and tie onto the hook, leaving enough space between the eye of the hook and the start of the thorax for the head of the fly to go. When you build the thorax up on the hook be careful you don’t make it too big, having finished this leave the wire at the rear of the thorax. As a personal tip I put a small amount of superglue over the wraps of wire.
- Tie in a separate piece of copper wire for the rib from right behind the thorax along the underneath of the shank to the back bend of the hook; leave enough wire off the back of the hook to take back down the fly for the rib.
Cut off 4 – 8 strands’ of pheasant tail that has nice long rich brown tips, making the fibres as long as possible, tie in at the bend leaving the tips of the fibres as a tail; roughly half the length of the body, using 2 – 3 turns of wire. Then fold the Pheasant Tail fibres backwards, wrap wire back up to the eye of the hook.
- Take the Pheasant Tail fibres and gently start winding up the body making sure not to overlap the last turn or you will run out of fibres a lot quicker. Go over both body and thorax with the Pheasant Tail fibres, then tie in at the head with 2-3 turns of wire, include a half hitch. Keeping the waste on the top of the hook ready for folding backwards to form the wingcase of the nymph.
- Take the copper wire that is tied in for the rib; (tip - put wire into hackle pliers for grip) wind up the body in the opposite direction to which you wound the Pheasant Tail fibres. This will make the fly more durable, longer lasting.
- When you get to the thorax, still holding the rib- take hold of the waste Pheasant Tail fibres and pull them down over the back of the fly and tie down behind the thorax with 1-2 full turns of the wire. To tie it off put your finger on the back of the fly so the wire cannot move. With the free end make a loose turn of wire around the body and pass the end through the loop to secure,(as shown in diagram). You can repeat this if you want and place a small dot of superglue at the base of the waste wire.
- Hopefully you will still have a few strands of Pheasant Tail fibres long enough to be pulled forward back over the thorax and tied down at the head with the wire on the bobbin that was left hanging at the eye of the hook. Trim waste feather and do another 2/3 hitches to tie off, a little dab of superglue or varnish.
When the glue or varnish has dried wiggle the strands of excess wire backwards a7 forwards, it will break off eventually, very close to the wraps.
Notes: If you don’t have enough Pheasant Tail fibres to do the wingcase; cut the Pheasant Tail fibres used for the body away at the head after tying off. Then tie in a matching fresh bunch of pheasant tail fibres at the head for the wingcase.
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