Pheasant Tail Nymph
Today we’re going to be tying a pheasant tail nymph, specifically a bead-head pheasant tail nymph. To follow this guide, you’ll need:
- A size 14 Umpqua TMC 3761 hook
- A 3.2 millimeter or eighth-inch brass bead
- A pheasant tail feathers in natural color
- A medium-size UTC wire in gold
- A quarter to a half-inch of two fibers of a peacock herl.
- A red sharpie
- waxed thread
Tying the Bead
First, put the bead on the hook. You’ll see two different sized holes on the bead -- place the smaller hole onto the hook point. This can be difficult to properly align, and they do make tools for this task. With a bit of patience and practice, though, it can be done manually. If the bead struggles to go onto the hook, we suggest using your fingernail to gently push it on. Ensure that the bead is secure before proceeding.
With the waxed thread, start wrapping tightly behind the hook eye, leaving the width of a hook eye before the bead. Then, skip over the bead and continue to tightly wrap the hook. You’ll have one thread running along the length of the bead -- we suggest keeping this thread running flat over the top of the bead, so it will not be visible once the rigging is complete. Once you’ve reached the bend of the hook, trim the tag end of the line.
Securing the Wire
Next, it’s time to begin working with the wire. We find that with pheasant tail nymphs, it works better to begin with the wire, as opposed to the tail fibers. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s much easier to secure the wire on the top of the shank before working the wire down the side of the hook above the bend. This will ultimately help with the taper of the lure, creating a more effective final project. Another reason we suggest tying the wire in first is that we’ve found it helps to keep the wrap more tight and secure.
Wrapping the Wire
After the hook and wire have been wrapped, grab five or six pheasant fibers, keeping the tips of them aligned as much as possible. Measure roughly one hook shank’s length from the end of the fibers. At the end of this measurement, begin wrapping the fibers onto the hook shank, leaving a length of fibers unwrapped and ‘dangling’ just before the bend of the hook.
Wrap the fibers two or three times towards the bead, and leave a small gap unwrapped before the bead. Pull the hook-eye end of the fibers back down the shank, and re-wrap them along the length of the hook shank. Wrap the fibers once again, towards the bead to finish, ending just before the bead.
Then, wrapping the fibers of the feather around the hook shank, keeping the wraps tight and together as you go up the hook shank. When you get to the bead, create a taper by wrapped one or two more times around the hook shank. Then, use the tag of your line to wrap the fibers two or three more times.
Counter-rib, use the wire to wrap the opposite direction as you did the pheasant tail fibers on the body. Wrap the wire up to the tie-off point behind the bead. Now, you may notice that using the bead causes you to lose some body on the hook. But, the bead will help with the weight of your hook. It will also add a shiny object to your setup that tends to attract fish.
Finally, wrap the wire 2-3 more times, and snip it flush with a pair of tweezers.
Tying the Bead
Next, it’s time to add the peacock. Tie the peacock in at the bead, and then wrap the peacock 3-4 times around the hook shank, directly after the bead. Then, use your line to wrap 1-2 times behind and in front of the peacock, securing it onto your rig. Snip the tail of your peacock from the hook shank.
Next, use your thread to wrap the top of the bead, advancing your thread to the hook eye.
Attaching the Pheasant Tail
You’ll want to use 3-4 pieces of the same color at a time when working with the pheasant tail.
Take those pieces and use your thread to wrap them right above the bead. The tips of the pheasant should extend to the back of the body, although some people do cut them flush at the bead. This is a matter of preference. Ensure that the wrapped pheasant tail is secure before adding another group.
When you wrap the second group of pheasant tail, we suggest criss crossing them with the first. Wrap them similarly with the thread, using the bead to separate the tail ends. Make several securing wraps in front and behind the beads, and then trim the pheasant tail tag ends.
Tying the Bead
At this point, the fly is almost entirely finished. All that remains is adding a head, which is where the red sharpie comes in handy.
Using your sharpie, color a 3”-4” section of the thread. Use a whip finisher to entirely cover the white thread with the colored portion of the thread. Cut the red thread flush to complete the head wrap.
Tying the Bead
To manipulate the wings of the fly, you can use a thin resin. Apply one or two drops of resin to the fibers on the back of the fly, and allow the resin to soak into the wrap briefly. Use your fingers to position the wings, and cure the resin quickly to set. After this, we suggest adding one or two more drops of resin to secure the wings’ positions.