Friday, October 18, 2013

My best Pheasant Tail Nymphs from 2013

I often have the debate with friends which classic nymph is better, the Pheasant tail or the Hares ear nymph. For me I tend to lean towards hares ears and they are mostly my go to nymph in any fishery. I have great confidence and belief in these flies and they continuously produce good catches for me . Saying that a lot of anglers have the same confidence in Pheasant tails, and I do share that belief, just might not reach for my box of PTs as quick as my hares ears if I am struggling to get some fish. However as you can see i always carry a nice selection of phesant tails with me. 
It was in Frank Sawyers’ book 'Nymphs and the Trout' first published in 1958 where he describes the method of tying and fishing this nymph. The design of the fly is significantly different from other flies in that Sawyer did not use thread to construct the fly, instead opting to use very fine copper wire. This has two effects; it adds weight to the fly, enabling it to be fished deeper than similar patterns, and adds a subtle brightness to an otherwise plain fly.
He twisted the wire and pheasant tail fibers around one another, and wrapped them forward together, forming the thorax and abdomen. 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. 
The Pheasant tail nymph is and has been sense the publishing of Franks book globally renowned as one of the greatest flies of all time. Like most dressing the original pattern has undergone many changes and developments due the production and addition of many synthetic materials to the existing natural feather that is from the tail of the cock pheasant
I grew up in the country side of Co Wicklow, raring and hunting pheasants is a part of the way of life there, this meaning that I had an abundance of tail feathers all different in colour and size to tie these nymphs. 
With this simple material on its own and a bit of copper wire that I used to get from the back of old tv's you could create a cracking fly that will catch a lot of fish. With the addition of some other materials these nymphs can imitate many forms of the natural food for trout and con even the cleverest of brownies into a take. Here are some of the nymphs that have worked really well for me this season:

Hook: Size 14 Hends Jig hook with a flat lead under-body & 3mm gold tungsten slotted bead
Thread: Red twist tying thread
Tail: Ginger cock hackle fibers 
Tag: Red holographic tinsel
Rib: Fine gold wire 
Body: Natural pheasant tail Dubbing for the collar: Natural squirrel with a turn of Hends UV ice dubbing and brushed out well, finish with some of the red thread showing behind the bead.

Hook: Size 16 Hends BL200
Flat lead under-body & 2.5mm gold tungsten bead
Thread: Olive twist tying thread
Tail:  Ginger cock hackle fibers.
Tag: Glo-brite no 5.
Rib: Fine gold wire. 
Body: Natural pheasant tail
 Collar: Hends Spectra dubbing no 46.

Hook: Size 14 Hends Grubber.  hook with a Flat lead under-body & 2.5mm gold tungsten bead.
Thread: Red twist tying thread.
Tail:  Ginger cock hackle fibers.
Rib: Fine gold wire.
Back & Thorax cover: Pearl flat tinsel brought up the full length of the nymph.
Body: Natural pheasant tail.
Thorax: Hends Spectra dubbing no 46 with some of the red thread showing behind the bead.

These three nymphs are not that far apart in their dressings but yet I do find that with pheasant tail nymphs even the slightest of difference in the dressing of the fly can be very important in trying to match what the trout are looking for.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you would like to see some more flies that I have found to be productive you can follow this blog by putting your email in the follow box on the right. Thank you for taking your time to read this. 


  1. Peter, I too prefer the hare ear, although have success with both. I feel the hare ear can imitate a larger natural food source for the trout, ie shrimp, hog louse, olive nymphs, ascending sedge pupas, corixa and even brown buzzers, but have caught large numbers of trout fishing the PT static under a floating line... nice blog

    1. Hi David and thanks for the comment on the blog, and I find the very same that the Hares ear dose cover more of the trouts diet alright.But also saying that I know plenty of guys that think the other way, I guess its just what you personally have the confidence in when fishing either. Thanks again and hope you enjoy the blog.

  2. Fishing a three nymph rig I usually put either a Hare's ear or a PT at the bottome, I have good results either way, but my largest fish have been on the Hare's Ear.