The pheasant tail nymph is a versatile fly used to imitate many different nymph species. It is among the most popular nymph flies because of its wide appeal. Many suggest the Pheasant Tail is the most popular Nymph pattern in the world. It is closely followed by the Prince Nymph, Hare’s Ear and Copper John Nymph Patterns.
Its design is credited to an English Riverkeeper named Frank Sawyer. He developed the fly in the late 1950s in England to imitate a large variety of olive and brown colored insect larva which would appeal to a wide variety of fish.
The most popular varieties of the Pheasant Tail are the Brown and the Flash Back Pheasant Tail. The flash back uses flashing on the back of the hook to imitate a wing case forming on an insect. The bead head Brown Pheasant Tail in size 14 is far by the most widely used variety for all species of trout.
The fly can also be used for panfish in ponds and lakes. I’ve used this fly in smaller sizes for bream and perch and the occasionally juvenile bass. In streams and rivers, it is fished sub-surface and close to the bottom as the pattern matches insect larva.
Personally, I prefer the bead head version of the fly so that I do not have to add as much split shot to the leader to get the fly to sink.
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