The Pheasant Tail nymph is a staple in most every fly box. Inventor Frank Sawyer, river keeper of the River Wiltshire Avon used this fly to fool the most challenging trout. The Pheasant Tail nymph, routinely called ‘PT’ nymph has evolved to include beadhead, tinsel, rubber legs and other added materials. But Sawyer’s ingenuity is what gives the pattern such effectiveness.
This is my go-to nymph when matching the Blue-Winged Olive, and other Baetis hatches. Sawyer’s version calls for fine reddish-brown transformer wire (.005”) instead of thread. Also he employed twisting the barbules around the wire before wrapping around the hook shank. I prefer to use fine copper wire and to forgo twisting the barbules around the wire. But I do twist the barbules among themself (wire excluded) before wrapping along the hook shank.
Thread: Fine wire 4mm or smaller
Hook: Size #16 or smaller, regular gauge wire, standard length, wide gap
Body: Pheasant Tail
Step 1. Wrap wire from head to rear of hook
Step 2. Tie in three or four barbules of Pheasant Tail. Match the barbule length so the black portion near the base of the barbules will become the wing pads. This may take some trial and error.
Step 3. Counter-Wrap towards hook eye just past half-length of the shank
Step 4. Wrap wire to hook eye make sure lock in pheasant tail
Step 5. Wrap wire back to pheasant tail
Step 6. Wrap wire back and forth from head to pheasant tail to build thorax
Step 7. Final wrap to pheasant tail
Step 8. Wrap pheasant tail to hook eye
Step 9. Wrap wire once or twice (no touch wraps) to hook eye
Step 10. Finish with two or three half hitch knots
Step 11. Lacquer wire head