Trees, rocks, big fish – they don’t care you spent half an hour on that perfectly tied fly.
I know because I’ve pleaded with them to give me back my precious flies before. Deaf ears!
I’ve been on a quest the last several years to identify simple flies that use simple, inexpensive materials, and take less than 3 minutes to tie. And I have a bunch of them.
I don’t know if the story about this fly is true or not, but this is how I first heard it and have heard it several times since.
A young French kid was kicking butt and taking names at a world championship event a number of years ago.
Not wanting to be "that guy,” no one asked him what was affixed to the end of his tippet during the event, but everyone wanted to see his fly box upon the event’s conclusion.
Expecting immaculately-tied, realistic patterns, most were shocked to see a fly box full of simply-tied bugs that were essentially bare-bones pheasant tails.
One of the chief beauties of this fly is that a fly tier can dramatically change the image of this fly with combinations of all the different colors of dyed pheasant tail we have access to, the many different colors of thread we have access to, and the nearly unlimited dubbing options. And now it’s even more versatile with the different Nymph-Head® Evolution™ beads our friends at Flymen are putting out.
I fish this fly constantly and it's especially good for when I need to get flies down fast in heavily moving water.
There’s nothing coming off the fly to catch or add buoyancy in the water column to keep it from diving to the bottom.
Fly tying materials
Hook: Here I’m using a #10 wide gap Orvis tactical hook, but you should use a wide variety of hooks and sizes to keep the pattern evolving in your box. I keep this fly tied from 10-18 in an array of different hook styles.
Bead: Nymph-Head® Evolution™ Clinger & Crawler tungsten beadhead, olive – but try any variety of Nymph-Head® Evolution™, Heavy Metal™, or FlyColor™ beads in appropriate sizes; match colors to match the pheasant tail you’re using.
Thread: I’m using fluorescent orange Veevus in 8/0 here – but make sure you also try fluorescent pink and chartreuse!
Body: Pheasant tail dyed olive – but play with lots of varieties.
Ribbing: Copper wire.
Collar: UV ice dubbing in baetis.
Fly tying instructions
Load and cement the bead with a thread base and a drop of Zap-A-Gap.
Take wraps rearward to the bend of the hook.
Tie in the pheasant tail and copper wire. Advance the pheasant tail forward with touching wraps and tie off. Advance the copper wire forward with open spiral wraps and tie off.
Dub a small noodle with selected dubbing and create a small collar.
Whip finish a small hotspot just behind the bead.
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Be sure to read John's recent post, They're at your feet, dude! 6 reasons to make shorter casts when wade fishing.
About John Zimmerman:
With Taylor Sharp (pictured left), John Zimmerman (right) is co-owner of Upper Creek Angler and co-founder and Chairman of the Board of directors of Casting for Hope. Upper Creek Angler is a guide and custom-built fly-rod service based in Morganton, NC. Casting for Hope is a regional nonprofit that serves women and families in Western North Carolina following a diagnosis of ovarian or other gynecological cancer through financial assistance and retreat programs. Casting for Hope’s flagship fundraiser is the only official Trout Legend Gold-Level fly-fishing competition on the east coast and one of just three in the United States. Watch the brief video below to learn more about Casting for Hope and the work John, Taylor, and their team are doing in WNC for women and families affected by ovarian and other gynecological cancers.