Beginner’s Fly Tying: Bead Head Pheasant Tail Nymph

Bead Head Pheasant-Tailed Nymph

Our next Beginners Fly Tying  session will be held at 7:00 PM on March 19th. The pattern chosen for the class to tie that evening is the Bead Head PT (pheasant tail) nymph. The Pheasant Tail nymph came into existence in the 1950s, a product of Mr. Frank Sawyer’s experimentation and observations on the English River Avon, where he served as a stream-keeper during that era. Mr. Sawyer designed his PT nymph to imitate a variety of nymphs, particularly those of mayflies and small stoneflies. Nevertheless, the PT nymph has endured decades of fly fishing. A search of the most popular nymph patterns for spring fishing will generally show the PT nymph in the Top 10 flies to carry.

Mr. Sawyer’s original pattern (which was primarily pheasant tail feather fibers for both the tail and wing case, and copper wire wrapped around the hook shank to imitate a segmented abdomen) indeed was more simplistic than the PT nymphs sold in fly shops, and tied by fly fishers today. 

Those persons relatively new to fly fishing might ask, why has the PT nymph remained on the top 10 list for many fly fishers? Perhaps the simplest answers are: the PT nymph is not only an excellent representation for many small nymphs found in fresh water streams and rivers, but also the PT nymph closely represents the nymph form of the Baetis species (in particular) of mayflies which are common to our area of the United States. 

Join our Beginner fly tying class on Tuesday, March 19th at Trinity United Methodist Church, West Patrick St., Frederick to tie the PT nymph. As always, we welcome fly fishers who have never tied an artificial fly to join our Beginner fly tying classes. Equipment and materials are provided to both newcomers* and club members.

  • Our PVFF fly tying instruction has been broadened to provide monthly instruction for those who might never have tied a fly (i.e. true beginners), as well as for those who have some experience in fly tying and wish to expand their skills by tying artificial flies which imitate natural fish foods. 
  • If you are planning on attending and do not already have your own basic equipment for fly tying, please let me (301-371-5617) know prior to the March19th session, so I can ensure a tying vise and tools are available for you.  

By Don Fine