Pheasant Tail Nymph


Tying the Pheasant Tail Nymph



A quick search on the internet, or flick through the pages of a magazine, will present to you a large number of different tyings and variations on the Pheasant Tail Nymph.


Tied by Frank Sawyer, a river keeper on the upper reaches of the River Avon (Hampshire), this pattern has stood the test of time.


Originally this was tied using just the fibres from a cock-pheasant tail and some copper wire. It is still as effective today as it ever was.


The tutorial opposite is, to be truthful, not the original dressing. I have used thread in place of copper wire. However, the concept remains the same - a neat, nicely-profiled nymph pattern. Fished dead-drift or with a 'induced take' this is a stunning pattern for trout and grayling.


Hook: Your choice of hook

Thread: Olive Moser Power-Silk 10/0

Rib: Copper wire

Tail / Abdomen / Wing cases: Cock Pheasant tail fibres

Thorax: Rabbit


I tied these in a range weights - and I find changing the dressing can help me achieve this:


Tied with Copper wire in place of thread, this version  has a layer of copper along the hook shank and then several layers in the thorax:



The pheasant tail fibres have been wound around the rib here and then wound. This allows for a neat, segmented body whilst giving the fibres some extra durability.


Also, the above pattern uses the tips from the wing bud fibres as legs. A simple addition really - it's just about getting the length of the wing buds fibres correct. See the tutorial instructions for more details.



Ballast can also come in the form of flat, adhesive lead. A layer before tying in the thread can also help to build the desired profile:










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Catch in the thread and tie in the wire rib along the under-side of the hook


Now catch in a the pheasant tail fibres for the tails. I like the tails to be half the size of the fly. Make sure they are on the top of the hook.


Now catch in a second bundle of fibres - this time by their tips and on the underside of the hook. These will become the body. You may find it useful to trim the tips blunt to ensure a neat tie in.


Build a tapered body with the thread.



Now wind the body fibres forwards. Twisting them can help their durability. Tie in at the 2/3 position - where you will want to start the thorax.


You can now trim the waste fibres too.


Now wind the rib. I have wound it in the opposite direction from the body fibres as this should help protect the fibres from fish's teeth. If they do become damaged they shouldn't unwind.


Whichever direction you shoose to wind, aim for an evenly spaced rib with four of five turns.


Now take another bunch of fibres. This time keep them flat (not bundled). tie them in the top of the hook - these will become the wing buds. I prefer the tips facing backwards.


(If you require the legs, you need to meaure up carefully now. Let the tips lie back to the same length as the tails. Practice makes perfect here as you are relying on the other proportions being correct!)


Now dub the thread with some rabbit. You could use more pheasant tail fibres instead.


Wind the thorax forwards, leaving enough space for the whip finish and formation of a small head.


Now pull the wing case forwards and tie down.


If you are aiming for legs, Now is the time to sweep the tips backwards and tie them in position.




Whip finish. Now work on the thorax with the dubbing needle or the velcro to pull those longer guard hairs free. Allow the thorax to be straggly.