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Thread: Pheasant Tail Nymph

  1. #1
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    Default Pheasant Tail Nymph

    The Pheasant Tail is a popular nymph imitation used when fly fishing. It is used to mimic a large variety of creatures that many fish including Trout feed upon. It is also widely referred to as the Sawyer’s Pheasant Tail, in relation to the original creator of this fly.
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    [edit] History

    Originally conceived and tied by Frank Sawyer MBE, an English River Keeper, the Pheasant Tail Nymph is one of the oldest of modern nymphs.
    Frank devised the pattern for use on the chalkstreams of Southern England. He designed this nymph to imitate several species of the Baetis family, generally referred to as the 'olives'; it quickly became world famous.
    [edit] Tying the fly

    Frank Sawyers’ book 'Nymphs and Trout' first published in 1958 describes the method of tying and fishing the 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 (see below), and adds a subtle brightness to an otherwise drab fly.
    Frank 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.
    Frank’s Pheasant Tail suggests many of the skinny nymphs that flourish in various habitats, exciting riffles to alluring deep holes in the rivers bed of chalk streams or spring creeks; and in stillwaters of all sizes.
    [edit] Fishing the Pheasant Tail

    In streams and rivers, the Pheasant Tail can be presented below the surface if required, but it is at its most productive when allowed to sink close to the river bed on a dead drift and then gently raised in the water to imitate the behaviour of the natural insect. This behaviour of the fly stimulates trout to regard the fly as natural food, and to try to eat it, at which point the hook can be set. This technique has become known as the "Induced Take", and the development of this technique may be considered to be as important as the development of the fly itself.
    In chalk streams and spring creeks trout often take up station at the most advantageous feeding position. Cast upstream and allow the current to present your Pheasant Tail in a natural manner. Alternatively, cast across the stream, allow the fly to sink, and as the fly approaches the feeding trout stop the line and allow the fly to rise in the water. Watch the trout if you can, or alternatively watch the tip of the fly line for any movement and, if seen, lift the rod tip and gently set the hook.
    On lakes, this is a very effective fly in the middle of the day during the Callibaetis season. Use a floating line with greased sunken leader, retrieve the fly very slowly just below the surface. Pay particular attention to shallow areas near weed beds
    In the UK, Sawyer's Pheasant Tail Nymph is an excellent imitation of "agile darter" nymphs, specifically Lake Olive (Cloëon simile) and Pond Olive (Cloëon dipterum) at any time of day, and can even be used during a midge (chironomidae) hatch.

  2. #2
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    blueraider-
    You must have a subscription to "Fly Tyer" also. I read the article also, and saved it for future use in tying his fly.

    One comment though, I couldn't connect to your "hot links" in your post. You might want to check it. Thanks

  3. #3
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    I just cut and pasted it from wiki. Didn't realize they actually linked to anywhere. Still not up on all the interweb savvy stuff.

  4. #4
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    Ironic that today most of us fish the American Pheasant Tail version as modified by Al Troth. I think the addition of the peacock herl thorax, wing case, and legs make it a better fly.
    "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
    Salvador Dali

  5. #5
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    I haven't noticed much of a difference with or without the legs. So now for probably 95% of my PT I tie are legless. I will only add legs to PT that are larger than 14, and I rarely fish that size. Fish don't seem to care, so I don't take the time to add them.

  6. #6
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    Sawyer's nymph is significantly different from the PT we know today. He didn't even use thread. Just pheasant tail fibers and copper wire. He didn't tie in legs because he thought they were unimportant on the swimming type Baetis nymphs he was trying to imitate. He felt that the swimming type nymphs held their legs along side their body as they swam. I only use the legs because they are simply the left over tips from tying the thorax. I'm not really sure if it matters one way or the other?
    "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
    Salvador Dali

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRaiderFan View Post
    I just cut and pasted it from wiki. Didn't realize they actually linked to anywhere. Still not up on all the interweb savvy stuff.
    That's ok, neither am I. I'm on the computer almost 8 hours a day, and there are things I still don't know how to do.

    Sawyers nymph is a butt ugly fly. But fish I catch seem to like ugly flies, even my older flies that look like they were chewed on by a pit bull. Maybe the fish think they are cripples!

    But, it is great stuff to know about flies.

  9. #9
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    Thumbs up

    This month's issue of Gray's Sporting Journal has a nice article on Mr. Sawyer's Fly, and how it has changed over the years, just FYI.

  10. #10
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    Red face

    Ahh, I am sorry should have read more carefully. It was Fly Tyer magazine as posted above.

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