Fly Fishing

Top Five Nymphs For Beginner Fly Tyers

When you are new to fly tying it can be daunting to know where to start. There is a near infinite number of patterns and possibilities that can be laid onto a bare hook, this is largely what makes fly tying so enjoyable, but at the beginning of the journey it may seem impossible to lay those infinite possibilities out in the right order to come up with something that you can fish confidently.

In this article we are going to be looking at some flies that are not only fairly simple to tie, but also set you up with skills that you will be using regularly as you progress as a fly tyer. One thing you will find is that most flies no matter how complex they look often go back to basic skills that you learn when you start. What does improve with experience is not just your efficiency and speed of executing these skills, but you start to develop an idea on the importance of proportions. When I look back at some of the first flies I tied it’s often just the proportions that were a bit out whack. If I could give twelve year old me any piece advice before I tied my first fly it would be Less is More. Less thread wraps, less dubbing, smaller wire, shorter legs…the list goes on.

So here is my list of top five nymphs for beginner fly tyers…

  1. Hare and Copper

The Hare and Copper is an extremely popular fly in New Zealand and the UK. The reason for it’s popularity I believe can largely be attributed to its simplicity and its ability to imitate a wide variety of nymph life. It’s hard to say what particular invertebrate it looks like but is often best described as ‘buggy’ looking. It also is a good blueprint for variation, it’s very easy to change up and experiment with different dubbing colours, wire as well as allowing you to add whatever you like. But the Hare n Copper in this article is the true original; beadless, scruffy and buggy.

Traditional Beadless Hare and Copper Nymph

Material List

Hook: Size 10-18 Straight Shank or Grub Hook

Tail: Pheasant Tail

Abdomen/Thorax: Hares Ear Dubbing

Ribbing: Small to Medium Copper Wire

Thread: Semperflie 50D Nanosilk

An older video of mine on How To Tie a Hare and Copper Variant

2. Pheasant Tail

Originally conceived and tied by Frank Sawyer in 1958. The Pheasant Tail is a classic fly and a great fly to start out with. You work with some fairly brittle materials in the form of pheasant tail and peacock herl which teaches an element of delicacy that a number of flies require. It also has a very traditional Tail, Abdomen and Thorax sequence to it which helps any fly tyer understand and get better with understanding the importance of proportions. The version I will be listing materials for is a variation of Sawyer’s original pattern which consisted of only copper wire and pheasant tail. Below is a picture of the more modern variation we will be focusing on.

Pheasant Tail Nymph

Material List

Hook: Size 10-18 2X Long Shank Nymph Hook

Tail: Pheasant Tail

Abdomen: Pheasant Tail

Ribbing: Small Copper Wire

Thorax: Peacock Herl

Wingcase: Pheasant Tail

Legs: Pheasant Tail

Here is a video from my Youtube channel on How To Tie The Perfect Pheasant Tail

3. Caddis Larvae Nymph

A Caddis imitation has a place in every fly box, Caddis Flies are prevalent in most parts of the world where you will find trout. There are a number of different caddis patterns ranging from simple and effective to complicated and probably just as effective. The caddis pattern below is a pattern from Braeden De Lange from South of North Fly Fishing.

Braeden De Lange Caddis Nymph

Material List

Hook: Kamasan b110 size 10

Thread: Semperfli Black 30d nano silk

Ribbing: Olive Vinyl Rib

Body: Black Semperfli Sparkle Dubbing & Olive Hare and UV dubbing.

You can see Braeden tie this killer caddis pattern in his video Olive Caddis Nymph – Fly tying step by step video

4. The Frenchie

The Frenchie is a valuable fly to learn as it incorporates three of the most important elements to consider when tying a fly. It also allows a lot of creativity, the Frenchie is more of a ‘general design’ than it is a specific pattern, there are hundreds if not thousands of possibilities and one can be as creative as they please when tying as long as they stick the formula. A Frenchie generally consists of a Pheasant Tail or Coq De Leon Tail with a pheasant tail abdomen and wire ribbing. The thorax can be any dubbing, a favourite of mine is peacock ice dubbing. They are great if you need to get down fast as they have a slim profile and the jig styled hooks allow for a 3.5-4mm tungsten bead while still maintaining it’s tapered appearance. The fly below is a Frenchie pattern I use with a lot of success and will be listing the materials of this specific variation.

Frenchie Style Fly

Material List

Hook: Hanak Jig Trophy Size 16

Tail: Pheasant Tail

Ribbing: Small Copper Wire

Thorax: Peacock Ide Dubbing

Thread: Semperfli 50D Hot Orange Nanosilk

Tungsten: Copper Coloured 3.5mm Slotted

I am yet to make a video for this particular pattern but here is a video from Fly Fish Food which is a similar pattern with different dubbing.

5. Brassie

The Brassie is in terms of simplicity probably wins the ‘Stupidly Simple’ Award of all the flies on this list. It is a great fly to start out with an get used to using three very common fly tying materials. While it is simple it can also be extremely effective and is a great stillwater nymph. The Brassie imitates midge/mosquito larvae which is is a great food source for trout in slow/still waters. I have also used a brassie in rivers in very shallow fast runs to great effect. They are a slim fly which helps a great deal with sinking and they can be tied both with or without a tungsten bead, I find the beadless version great for sightfishing shallow stillwaters such as lake edges as the copper gives enough weight to break the surface tension and very slowly sink but not so heavy it goes straight to the bottom.

Brassie with black tungsten bead

Material List (Beaded Version)

Hook: Size 14-24 Grubber Hook

Abdomen: Small Copper Wire

Thorax: Peacock Herl

Thread: Semperfli Black 50D Nanosilk

Tungsten Bead: Appropriated to hook size (Size 14 would have a 2.5mm)

Here is a video from Tightlinevideo on How To Tie The Brassie

Wrap Up

These flies all while having an element of simplicity to them are some of the most effective nymphs and should have a place in any anglers fly box. In fact if you were to go out with only these flies in your fly box you would be more prepared than many. Mastering these flies also gives a begginner fly tyer a good platform of skills to move on to more complex patterns.

If you want more fly tying tips check out Three Key Considerations When Fly Tying to help understand key principles to remember when at the vice.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: