Pheasant Tail Nymph

pheasant tail nymph

Uses:

The pheasant tail nymph (PTN) is used to represents a wide range of aquatic insect larvae and can even be used to imitate fish fry. It’s useful on still water and running water for targetting numerous species though originally it was dressed for trout in theRiver Avon. The PTN is especially good at representing darker species and is considered an especially good match for the nymph of the Blue-winged Olive. On a 2X hook shank it works well as a stonefly. To imitate lighter nymphs you might do better with a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear.

How to fish:

In still water present the PTN using a slow hand-twist or use a wind drift. In running water use standard nymph tactics (drag free drift, rising nymph, wetfly swing).

Tying instructions:

Left-handed sequence | Right-handed sequence
1. Start the thread one hook eye length behind the eye.
2. Take the thread back to the end of the shank in close touching turns. Tie in a small bunch of pheasant fibres by their tips with two tight wraps of thread.
3. Then catch in the copper wire at the same position.
4. Then lift the feather fibres gently and wrap the thread forward in tight touching turns up to the start position. As you bind down the waste end of the copper, be sure to keep it aligned with the hook shank.
5. Then build a tapered underbody of thread before letting the bobbin hang where you want the body to finish.
6. Wrap the pheasant forward taking care to cover the tying in point. Tie off with two or three tight turns of thread.
7. After removing the waste feather butts, wrap the copper wire counter to the feather fibres to produce the rib. Make several wraps of copper at the thorax to add bulk and weight. Tie off the wire and remove the waste.
8. Return the thread to the start position.
9. Tie in on top of the hook at the front of the thorax, a small bunch of pheasant fibres with their tips even and pointing forward over the eye. The length they protrude later dictates the length of the legs.
10. Take the thread to the back of the thorax and dub the thread with hare’s ear fur.
11. Wrap the dubbed thread to form a fur thorax.
12. While the thread hangs at the head of the fly, bring a finger up and onto the eye of the hook spreading the feather tips up and out into a fan.
13. Divide the tips into two equal bunches to form the legs and bring the butts of the pheasant tail fibres forward between them.
14. Secure the pheasant tail butts at the eye to form the wingcase. Use just a single wrap.
15. Pull back the feather fibre tips and make two of three further wraps of thread to fully secure the butts.
16. Remove the waste pheasant tail and make a whip finish. A drop of head cement will finish the job.
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3 thoughts on “Pheasant Tail Nymph

  1. Note…..when fishing mayfly nymphs as swimmers in lakes, make sure your pattern is longer and thinner much like the naturals. I used a Hares Ear that looked close to a natural sample I observed via the throat pump and got nothing. I switched to a friends PT Nymph which was longer and thinner,a more sparsely tied ntmph with a red wire rib and it was hot!! This was on a premier trophy lake in British Columbia known for large but weary trout into the teens. The mayfly hatch was massive and I learned so much more about fishing them that day. Another note is the pattern was fished almost static under a quick release indicator with the addition of a few twitches here and there

    The Bonepart Gulls and Black Swifts flew precsion flight patterns picking the newly hatching adults off the water and in the air. I was the only angler in sight…AWESOME!!!

  2. Good instructions. However I have seen some on the net with a peacock thorax. Which one works the best? DC

    • Hi DC, To be frank I couldn’t say. I gave up on using either pheasant or peacock for the thorax so long ago. I found the hare’s fur version to be most durable and sufficiently effective in its own right. That isn’t to say there aren’t times when another material might tip things in your favour. There are versions with ice dubbing and fluorescent wool, all useful.