Beginner’s Fly Tying: Prince Nymph

View our instructional video for tying this fly. This video includes several chapter markers so you can easily jump to the section you wish to view — visit our YouTube channel to easily jump to the chapter of your choice. Written instructions for each fly are presented below.

As we continue with our virtual  Beginner’s Fly Tying program in 2021, I want to briefly reflect on the success of our PVFF members in learning to tie artificial flies during year 2020. For each of the past 11 months, more than 20 of our members have participated in tying the ‘fly of the month.’ These fly patterns included a variety of forms of fish food: nymphs, wet flies, streamers, midges, eggs, worms, and terrestrials.

The enthusiasm of more and more of our members to want to learn to tie artificial flies has been very gratifying to me. And on behalf of Troy Kitch and me, we want to thank all who participated each month and those who sent photos of their completed flies.

The fly pattern chosen for February is the Prince Nymph, named after the designer of the fly, Doug Prince from California. When first introduced, the Prince nymph “was radical in design” because Doug used goose wing feather ‘biots’ to represent both the immature wings and tail of the nymph. Many freshwater fly fishers (across the country) rate the Prince Nymph as one of their standard ‘go to’ nymph patterns when fishing for trout. 

—Don Fine

Step-by-Step Instructions for Tying a Prince Nymph

The Prince Nymph was developed by Doug Prince. It is believed that Doug created his nymph pattern sometime in the early 1940’s. He called it a Brown Forked Tail Nymph and fished it primarily on the King’s River in California. At that time the Prince nymph was considered radical in design because it incorporated goose biots into its tail and “wings”. Over the years the Prince nymph has proven to be a ‘favorite’ for trout fishers to have in their fly box ‘arsenal’.

Prince Nymph

A review of tying instructions for the Prince nymph quickly reveals minor to significant deviations from Doug Prince’s original design, some of which undoubtedly enhance its attraction to the fish. My instructions below are fundamentally the same as that of the original Prince nymph*, with the exception of having a gold, silver or brass colored bead at the head of the fly. I also find that tying the Prince Nymph with lead wraps along with the bead head, creates too much bulk in the fly. Thus if extra weight is required to fish the nymph deeper, I suggest either using a tungsten bead or split shot ~ 6” above the fly.

*In his book Tying Nymphs by Randall Kaufmann, Randall notes the addition of metal beads to the original Prince nymph. Kaufmann also deviates from the original, by adding lead wraps along the abdomen to weight the nymph. I normally don’t use the lead wraps, rather I like weighting the fly with the bead head.


  • Hook – classic nymph hook, sizes 10-16
  • Thread – 6/0 black, brown, olive
  • Bead – brass or tungsten (sized to match hook)
  • Tail – brown goose or turkey biot
  • Rib- gold or copper ultrawire
  • Abdomen- peacock herl
  • Legs – brown or furnace hackle (use partridge as an alternate)
  • Wing- white goose or turkey biot

Tying steps:

  • Pinch down hook barb, slide metal bead onto the hook, and insert hook in tying vise.
  • Start thread immediately behind hook eye and wrap the entire straight portion of the hook shank, stopping just short of the bend of the hook.
  • Choose two matching brown biot quills, and tie both onto the top of the hook (immediately at the bend) such that they describe a V shape sticking to the rear of the fly. Secure the biots by wrapping the thread forward over the biot ‘butts’, to a point about mid shank.
  •  Hold a 2” section of ultrawire along the top of the hook and begin to make tread wraps to the rear of the hook covering the wire such that the wire protrudes to the rear and on the far side of the hook at its bend.
  • Advance the thread forward toward the eye, stopping just short of where the bead is located. Then take 2 pieces of peacock herl and after clipping off the butt ends such that the herl pieces are aligned, begin to make thread wraps to the rear securing the peacock along the top of the hook shank. Stop thread wraps immediately in front of where the brown biots and wire are tied in.
  • Advance the tying thread forward, leaving it hanging slightly (~ 1/8”) to the rear of the bead. Then while holding the peacock herl pieces together (do not twist) make continuous wraps of the peacock bundle forward to where the thread in hanging. Secure the peacock at this location with several thread wraps and cut off excess peacock.
  • Counter wrap the wire forward through the peacock abdomen, stopping where the thread is hanging. Secure the wire with several thread wraps and clip off the excess wire.
  • Prepare a single partridge, soft hackle, or saddle hackle feather and draw the fibers back on the stem of the feather. Create a ‘diamond-shaped’ point at the tip of the feather and secure it with several thread wraps on the top of the hook immediately behind the bead. Make ~2 wraps of hackle around the hook shank, pulling back the fibers after each turn. Then secure the feather in place with several thread wraps, clipping off the extra hackle fibers on the top of the hook. (Note= the hackle collar should be sparse, creating only the vision of legs or gills protruding from the nymph).
  • Tie in two white biots, tips only as long as the hook shank, again forming a V on the top of the fly. Secure with several thread wraps, clip off the butts from the biots (immediately behind the bead). Then make several more thread wraps further covering the forward edges of the biots*.
  • It is advisable to put a small drop of super glue, UV cement or other lacquer over the thread wraps to secure the biots in place.

*Note: the Prince Nymph can be easily enhanced by adding a ‘hot spot’ (with several wraps of a bright colored thread, e.g. fire orange, pink, chartruese) immediately behind the bead as the last step in the tying sequence. UV cement at this point further enhances the color of the hot spot.