Pheasant Tail Nymph

Pheasant Tail Nymph

The classic all-purpose nymph--with a modification or two

My "go-to nymph" is nearly always the Pheasant Tail. I carry them in sizes 22 through 14, unweighted. I've always felt that the original Sawyer pattern appeared a little too clean around the thorax area, so I have added a fuzzy hare's ear thorax in place of the trim-looking pheasant thorax of the original. The hare's ear dubbing is a little darker in color than the pheasant tail fibers and provides the appearance of gills and legs. For those of you who like flash in the wing case, try using dyed black wild turkey tail segments. Tie in the segment with the shiny side down. The fibers in the turkey tail are quite flat and when pulled forward over the thorax will twist to one side and provide a nice, shiny surface.

Hook: Use your favorite dryfly hook, size 14-22. (I prefer dryfly hooks because I occasionally want to grease the fly to make it float.)

Thread: Thompson's 6/0 on sizes 14 through 18, and 8/0 on sizes 20-22.

Tail: Three light- to medium-brown pheasant tail fibers, hook-gap length.

Rib: Soft brass wire from your local craft store. 28 to 32 gauge.

Body: Fibers from the center tail of a rooster ringneck phea-sant. Size 14: 6 or 7 fibers; size 16: 5 or 6 fibers; size 18: 4 or 5 fibers; size 20-22: 3 or 4 fibers.

Wing case: Hook-gap-width segment of dyed black wild turkey tail. Spray liberally with Krylon Workable Fixatif before separating.

Thorax: Loosely dubbed hare's ear dubbing.

1. Attach tying thread above the hook point and wrap to the beginning of the bend.

2. Tie in pheasant tail fibers, lash them to the middle of the thorax area and clip off the butts.

3. Tie in the wire here and lash it to your side of the hook all the way to the beginning of the hook bend. Note: This will prevent the wire from cutting off body fibers as you reverse wrap the wire over the body later.

4. Select an appropriate number of fibers for the body, clip off the tips to even them, tie them down with the tips at mid shank and lash them down to the end of the shank.

5. Carefully wind the fibers forward to create a smooth and slightly tapered body well into the thorax area. This is to provide a platform to tie the wing case.

6. Reverse-wrap the wire over the body in evenly spaced turns, tie down and clip off the excess in the thorax area.

7. Tie in the turkey segment with the shiny side down and tip to the rear.

8. Loosely dub the thorax to create a diameter about twice the size of the shoulder of the body. Save two hook-eye spaces for tying down wing case and head.

9. Carefully fold wing case forward, tie down firmly, clip off excess, whip finish and apply a drop of head lacquer to the head and a liberal amount to the turkey segment wing case.

10. Tease the dubbing for a fuzzier thorax.