Category Archives: Nymphs

X Leg Nymph – 05/11/2020

X Leg Nymph 05/11/2020 Photo Album

I lived in Colorado for thirty years; however, I continue to subscribe to Pennsylvania Boater & Angler. I enjoy staying current with the latest fishing trends and events in Pennsylvania in case I make an infrequent return visit. A recent issue outlined the tying steps for a X leg nymph, and the simplicity of the fly struck me. I scanned the pattern and recently had the time to tie some experimental models. I was also pleased to discover that I possessed all the necessary materials to create five brown versions.

Fly ComponentMaterial
Hook3X Long, curved nymph hook 10-12
Bead1/8 inch gold
Thread6/0 tan
TailBrown marabou
WireSm Gold Ultra wire
LegsAmber Barred Legs

Burrowing Nymph

The nymphs have long relatively narrow bodies and, thus, appear to be excellent imitations of the burrowing category of mayflies. Various eastern drakes fall into this category. I’m not sure if there is a brown burrowing nymph in the west, but I suspect the X leg could also replicate a stonefly, as it tumbles through deep pockets and runs in mountain environments. I will certainly allot the X leg some time on the end of my line. In a worst case scenario it should serve as a nice heavy top nymph to sink a dry/dropper rig deep on tumbling high elevation creeks. The long tapered body, undulating marabou tail, gold rib, vibrant legs, and gold bead are all attractive trigger elements of the X leg nymph.

Anxious to Test

Fusion Nymph – 05/03/2020

Fusion Nymph 05/03/2020 Photo Album

I followed @thin_air_angler on Instagram for a few years now, and I actually met Bob Reece several times at the Fly Fishing Show in Denver. Bob is a junior high science teacher and coach in Cheyenne, WY, but his avocation is fly tying, guiding and fly fishing. Bob is a signature fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2457 or Equivalent
BeadBrass gold size to fit hook
ThreadBrown 6/0
TailAmber krystal flash
WireCopper ultra wire
HerlGray ostrich herl
Dubbing Peacock ice dub

One of Reece’s signature patterns is the fusion nymph, and the tying instructions appeared in an issue of Southwest Fly Fishing. I was intrigued by the look of the fly, so I scanned it, and given the Stay at Home orders from the covid19 epidemic and my status as a rehabilitating patient, I decided to give the fusion nymph a try.

Love the Look

I found an instructional video online featuring the creator himself, and I gathered the necessary materials. The pattern that he tied prescribed tan ostrich herl and amber ultra wire. I did not have these two materials in my possession, and the local fly shops were closed due to the coronavirus situation. I was reluctant to wait for the delivery of an online order, so I made some substitutions. Bob actually suggested some different color combinations in his instructional video.

Nymphs and Materials

I produced five fusion nymphs, and I must say I am very pleased with the output. The unique concept that Bob incorporated into his nymph design is the abdomen with fine copper wire wrapped over the ostrich herl. This creates a very buggy look, as the herl that pokes through the gaps in the wire creates the illusion of gill fibers. The finished flies appear to be in the pale morning dun nymph genre, but they are easier to tie than a salvation nymph or pheasant tail. I am anxious to give them a try. The flies have a lot of shine and are solidly constructed and could be a positive addition to my nymph arsenal.

Perdigon – 04/13/2020

Perdigon 04/13/2020 Photo Album

Around five years ago my daughter, Amy, introduced me to Instagram. It was a seminal moment in my fly fishing career. I now follow hundreds of anglers around the world, and I am amazed at the quality and creativity of tiers on every continent. A fly that frequently appears in my Instagram feed from these international tiers is the perdigon. The perdigon fly originated in Spain, and it is a small yet comparably heavy sleek design that quickly plummets to the bottom even in fast water conditions. Many tiers make them on a jig hook, and they typically incorporate a tungsten bead to hasten the sink rate. These flies portray very slender, sleek bodies that slice through the water column with minimal resistance.

I Love the Shine

I never experimented with a perdigon, but in a recent article in Fly Fisherman Charlie Craven instructed on the steps. Given the covid hiatus I decided to make a few. I discovered that Charlie created a video of the tying steps, so I viewed the clip from beginning to end to get an overview. I did not possess any jig hooks, so I dug out some size 18 scud hooks. Charlie did not use a jig hook in his demonstration, so I felt that I was not deviating excessively from the pattern.

Five Completed

I gathered the remaining materials and produced my first perdigon. I used fluorescent orange thread and mylar tinsel for the body, but I struggled to prevent the tinsel from sliding back to clump the tail. On the second attempt I used olive floss for the body, and it was an improvement, although quite a bit of the fluorescent thread showed through the floss. Both may be acceptable to fish, but I knew I could do better. For my last three I used olive thread with pearl flashabou for the body and then wrapped strands of brown and black super hair for the rib. If you check out the embedded photos, you will agree that the super hair versions are the best. The topping on all these perdigon flies is UV resin, and I utilized flow for the layer over the abdomen. The epoxy layer renders a rich iridescent look to the tiny nymph.

Materials Used

For the final step I used a black marker to color a black wing case on top, and then I applied a small thick drop of UV resin for the wing case. This last step gives the fly the stereotypical hump that distinguishes the perdigon. I have five more new flies to experiment with during the 2020 season.

Super Nova PMD – 04/12/2020

Super Nova PMD 04/12/2020 Photo Album

A second version of the super nova from @hopperjuan_fly_fishing imitates the pale morning dun nymph. Generally a pheasant tail nymph is a solid representation of these summer emergers, and I continue to stock them mostly in size 18. For larger PMD nymphs I nearly always knot a size 16 salvation nymph to my line, and it has become my number two producer if not number one. I am quite satisfied with the performance of my salvation nymphs during both pale morning dun emergences as well as when deployed as an attractor searching pattern. A super nova PMD is mostly redundant in my view, but given the stay at home times and the search for indoor activities, I decided to spin out five.

Fly ComponentMaterials
HookSize 16 curved nymph hook
Thread6/0 brown
TailBrown hackle fibers
Body6/0 brown
RibBrown slim rib
ThoraxPeacock ice dub
LegsBlack krystal flash

Bringing It Closer

For these super novas I used brown thread, brown hackle fibers for the tail, slim rib brown, peacock ice dub thorax, and krystal flash black for the legs. I am quite pleased with the output, and I will place some along side my pheasant tails and salvations to try later this summer. This fly has a look very similar to the other PMD flies, but it is a much faster tie and also more durable than a classic pheasant tail.

A Batch of Five Plus Materials

Bring on the pale morning dun hatches in 2020.

Super Nova Baetis – 04/04/2020

Super Nova Baetis 04/04/2020 Photo Album

@hopperjuan_fly_fishing is one of my favorite tiers on Instagram, and during the corona virus pandemic he has been posting various patterns to occupy the hours while abiding to the stay at home order. His super nova series caught my attention, and I produced five to test on the local waters. Juan presented two recipes; one for a baetis imitation and one for a pale morning dun. I attempted the baetis version first.

Small Flashy Nymph

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookCurved Nymph hook. Size to match nymph.
Thread8/0 Olive
TailOlive hen hackle fibers
Body8/0 Olive
RibBrown slim rib. I also used several strands of brown super hair.
ThoraxPeacock ice dub
LegsMidge body thread. I substituted black crystal flash.

I largely adhered to his materials list; however, I was forced to make a few substitutions for items that I did not possess. With the stay at home order I am limited to online purchases, and I was too impatient to wait for a delivery. In addition, I am making a concerted effort to draw from my vast quantities of materials that would in all likelihood supply five lifetimes of tiers. Juan’s recipe lists diamond brite, bronze olive for the thorax, and I substituted peacock ice dub. For legs he listed MFC midge body thread, and I substituted black crystal flash. I use black crystal flash for the legs on the iron sally, and I love the look, when small appendages are desired. In one other deviation from the prescribed pattern, I utilized two strands of brown super hair for the rib instead of brown slim rib for three of the five super novas. For the smaller sizes I think I like the finer rib of super hair, and I was making size 18 baetis nymphs.

Nice One

Otherwise, I love the simplicity of this design, and I am hopeful that it effectively supplements my already generous supply of baetis nymph imitations. RS2’s and its variations are my main source of baetis nymphs at the moment, but I am not averse to a new fly earning my trust.

Partridge and Orange – 04/03/2020

Partridge and Orange 04/03/2020 Photo Album

I Did Not Have Orange Thread. Only Neon Orange.

Next in line for trial flies selected from my fly fishing magazines was the partridge and orange. This is a classic wet fly, and I am intrigued to tie some old time favorites to determine, if they might still produce in these high tech times. The materials list specified only a handful of materials, and all were in my immediate possession. This was a relatively simple fly to tie, and I am quite pleased with the result. Wrapping the partridge soft hackle was the greatest challenge, but once I completed one, it became fairly straightforward.

Fly ComponentMaterial
Hook1XL wet fly hook 12 - 18
ThreadOrange 8/0, I used fluorescent orange since that is all I had.
BodyOrange floss
RibFine gold wire
ThoraxTan dubbing
HackleGray partridge

Since I tied this fly in early April, and I completed a couple trips afterward, I tested the partridge and orange on a local stream. Unfortunately I am unable to report any success; however, when wet, it looks amazing. I will continue to test it during 2020, and I am very confident that the old reliable partridge and orange will produce its share of fish. A fly would not last this long without a history of success.

I Love This Macro Look

Pat’s Rubber Legs – 01/10/2020

Pat’s Rubber Legs 01/10/2020 Photo Album

The impetus for tying ten Pat’s rubber leg flies was the glowing reports that I received from my friend Dave G. Dave fished the Eagle River and Colorado River with much success during the 2019 season, and his top producer was an olive Pat’s rubber legs. He became acquainted with the fly on several guided float trips, and his guides referred to it as the pickle fly because of the olive green variegated body.

Which Leg Material?

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 5262, Size 10
Weight.02 lead free wire
Tail/AntennaRubber leg Material
BodyOlive variegated chenille

Previously I tied some Pat’s rubber legs, but one version used yellow-brown chenille and another utilized black and coffee. On one of my recent trips to Charlie’s Fly Box in Arvada, CO I purchased a new card of variegated olive chenille. I searched for and found a color that matched the shade of a pickle.

Tan and Black

Since quite a few years transpired since my last Pat’s rubber legs tying project, I searched YouTube for some tutorials, and I settled on one produced by Tim Flagler of tightlinevideo. I highly recommend this take, as Tim offers some unique tips. The most difficult aspect of tying this relatively simple fly is wrapping the chenille through the rubber legs, and Tim’s recommended techniques tame the uncooperative appendages.

A Finished Batch

I tied ten for my first foray into green Pat’s rubber legs, and I am anxious to take them for a spin on local rivers and streams.

Wiggle Damsel Nymph – 01/06/2020

Wiggle Damsel Nymph 01/06/2020 Photo Album

I searched this blog for wiggle damsel, and I was surprised to discover a post on 12/04/2011. The wiggle damsel is a simple fly designed by Charlie Craven, but the reason I was surprised was learning that the last time I produced these creations was in 2011. If you are interested in tying these damsel fly nymph imitations, check out the 12/04/2011 post for a materials table and tying steps.

Wiggle Damsel

I utilized the wiggle damsels sporadically over the last eight years, but their main effectiveness lies in the stillwater fly fishing realm, and I fished flowing water ninety percent of the time. This explains the fact that seven wiggle damsels remained in my possession, when I counted my storage containers. As a result of the extended run off in 2019, I visited lakes more often than usual, and on one trip to Flatirons Reservoir, I enjoyed a modest amount of success with the marabou nymph pattern. I also lost a few during the lake fishing season, so I decided to produce ten new versions to increase my supply to seventeen. This quantity will likely suffice for quite a few years into the future.

A Batch of Ten

The highlight of my association with the wiggle damsel occurred during my trip to Patagonia in 2013. This experience affirmed my confidence in the breathing and wiggling nymph imitation, and I plan to maintain a supply during all my fly fishing adventures.

Scud – 12/20/2019

Scud 12/20/2019 Photo Album

Back in the 90’s an orange scud was one of my most productive flies on the South Platte River in Deckers and Cheesman Canyon. From late April through May, I presented an orange scud along with a San Juan worm or beadhead pheasant tail, and the scud was often the top producer. My trips to that area dwindled after the Heyman Fire in 2002, and my usage of a scud faded in a similar fashion. Over the intervening years I occasionally experimented with an orange scud, and the freshwater shrimp produced a few fish. It was never a first choice, however, and consequently it occupied a position on my line infrequently.


I recently read some articles that suggested a scud is a very productive fly during the cold weather months on tailwaters, and I decided to assess my supply and diversify to some different colors. My counting exercise determined that I carried eight orange, three gray and zero olive scuds in my storage compartments. I decided to tie five olive, five gray and three orange to increase my holdings to respectable levels.

Side View

During the 90’s I tied orange scuds with no shell back as recommended by Roger Hill in his Fly Fishing the South Platte RiverĀ book. For this replenishment exercise, however, I decided to include a shell back, and I viewed several videos on YouTube to refresh my memory on tying steps. I settled on Charlie Craven’s approach, however, I did not possess the Swiss straw material that he used for the shell back, and this forced me to improvise. Another video used a translucent product called thin skin, and it displayed a pattern of random black spots. I pulled an old Ziploc storage bag from a kitchen drawer and determined that it was approximately the desired thickness. I dabbed a square section in the corner of the bag with a black permanent marker and then cut the square from the bag. Voila! I now had a handcrafted shell back material for my scuds.

Scuds and Materials

In addition to the substitute shell back material I skipped the weighting step, but I otherwise followed Craven’s approach and produced the targeted number of scuds for 2020 and beyond. I hope to knot these ever-present crustaceans to my line more frequently in 2020.

Salad Spinner – 12/17/2019

Salad Spinner 12/17/2019 Photo Album

The salad spinner was designed by my friend, Danny Ryan, and he demonstrated its effectiveness on a fishing trip to the South Platte River in 2015. This eye opener prompted me to tie a batch, and my post of 12/12/2015 provides the tying steps and some background information on the fly.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2457, Size 20 or Equivalent
BeadSilver sized to hook
ThreadBlack 8/0
TailBrown pheasant body feather
AbdomenBlack 8/0
WingWhite antron yarn
ThoraxPeacock herl

Between 2015 and now I tested the salad spinner on numerous occasions, and it yielded enough success to secure a permanent place in my fly box, I counted twenty-one in my various storage boxes, and this prompted me to tie an additional four to increase my inventory to twenty-five for the upcoming season. I refurbished two that were unraveling and created two from bare hooks.

I Love the Red Rib

I should probably fish midge larva and pupa more frequently, and if I modify my behavior to do so, the salad spinner will be a likely beneficiary of more time on my line.

The Key Materials