sexyloops fly tying school part 4 - PTN

sexyloops fly tying school part 4 - PTN

t.z. | Friday, 30 October 2015

PTN - Pheasant Tail Nymph

In the previous chapters of the Sexyloops Fly Tying School – «SFTS» for short – (one needs to have abbreviations) we talked about thread in general and the first fly – the Black / Griffiths Gnat. The next fly is hands down one of the most effective nymphs in a freshwater flyfishers fly box.


A nymph pattern is supposed to imitate aquatic insects in their larva stage. Aquatic Insects live under water between 1 and 3 years until they hatch and become flying insects for a short mating session. What a life. They must be very bored by all this waiting for the big day. They live off even smaller particles in the water and some of them, maybe even many - become fish food.

There is a huge variety of them in the water. Hooks one can use for the imitations ranges from size 22 to even 10. Funny though is that specifically smaller nymphs are very successful. A size 18 or 16 brings quite good fish to the net.

The key to a good nymph imitation is to hit the general proportions and shape, not to overdress them. Tying them simple and easy is a good idea. These things often get lost on the bottom of the water you are fishing.

The pattern I want to show you today consist of two materials (plus the hook). Fibers from a pheasants tail feather and thin copper wire. I find it tricky to tie. One really needs to pay attention to the power one applies when winding the materials onto the hook.

About weighting nymphs - It is a question of the fishing rig you want to use / cast. I think it is good to remember how light the actual insects are. This does have an effect on their behavior (the way the trundle / float about) Many choose to weight the nymph itself so it sinks as fast as possible. The other option would be to use split shots on your leader / tippet. I think one has to experiment a little to find out what works best for the fishing situations and the rod / line combinations one is using. Keep trying … the important part is to get the nymph down to the fish. Once your lure is at the water depth the fish are feeding – they take it.

The tying steps:

PTN_step1 shown in picture is a size 18 hook - wind on a layer or two of thin copper wire
I have used a bobbin holder for the copper wire.

select three or 4 fibres from a pheasants tail feather
tie them in with their tips pointing backwards, forming a little tail

wind the fibers around the copper wire and wind this "rope" onto the hook

stop after having covered 2/3rds of the hook shank
separate the fibers from the wire
continue winding the wire towards the hook eye

wind the fibers covering the last third of the hook shank

secure the fibers at the hook eye

bring the copper wire and the fibers back and secure

fold the fibers foward again

and secure them with the wire

and back again

... and the wire forward again

PTNsecure the wire with a whip finish knot or a drop of superglue

picture by Al Pyke 

Thomas Züllich, or - “t.z.” as most call him - is a German flyfisher & flytier living in Norway. His flydressing is based on old traditions as well as very modern and innovative methods of creating flies. You can book Thomas for guided trips, flytying classes and presentations. He regularly gives speeches and demonstrations at fly fishing fairs. Thomas is member of the ProTeam at Partridge of Redditch as well as Regal Vises. 

Sexyloops Fly Tying School - next: Red Tag 

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