Pheasant Tail Nymph

LePetomane

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This is my favorite nymph. I deviated from the original pattern of Frank Sawyer by using copper wire for the thorax to make it sink faster. I fish it on a dropper about 18" below a dry. The fly sinks pretty fast and doesn't drag the dry underwater like a beadhead does.

 

dillon

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I like your variation. I prefer weighting the shank of the over using a bead head for stillwater application. I would wrap the wire over the abdomen as you did, but would try wrapping the upper shank of the hook and building the thorax over it. Just a thought...

As well as using it for a Stillwater dropper. The fly works well slowly retrieved with a long leader and floating line or an intermediate sink tip when fish are feeding just below the surface on emerging calibaetis.
 

okaloosa

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a lot less expensive to tie than the tungsten beadheads also...and no toxic lead wire...will give it a try...
 

silver creek

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A good source for cheap copper wire is an electric motor or generator repair/rewinding shop. They will sell or give away mill ends of wire spools that do not have enough wire to rewind a generator or motor.

Here is my life time supply with a coke can for scale. Each spool is a different diameter wire. I think the entire supply was less than $20.00. Copper was cheap back then.

 

trev

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I think Sawyer built the entire body and thorax shape out of copper then just covered it with feather and wire mixed, a total of 3 complete hook coverings of fine copper plus a "lump" at the thorax. The illustrations in his book show a more pronounced "lump" than you have made.
Your pattern certainly suits me better than any bead head, and is much closer to the original than most PTNs I've seen. I would tie a sparser tail, Frank suggested four fibers, but if that works for you, it's great.
 

LePetomane

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Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I don't want the fly to be too heavy otherwise it will sink the indicator dry. The streamlined shape makes it sink faster without pulling the dry down.
 

silver creek

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I think Sawyer built the entire body and thorax shape out of copper then just covered it with feather and wire mixed, a total of 3 complete hook coverings of fine copper plus a "lump" at the thorax. The illustrations in his book show a more pronounced "lump" than you have made.
Your pattern certainly suits me better than any bead head, and is much closer to the original than most PTNs I've seen. I would tie a sparser tail, Frank suggested four fibers, but if that works for you, it's great.

YouTube
 

trev

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At the beginning of that clip he has already started the wire at the bend, wound it to the eye, wound it back to the thorax location, built the lump, wound the wire back to the bend and secured the starting wire, which he cuts off as the clip starts, his working wire is dangling at :14 - two layers of wire plus the thorax- after securing the tails he then twists wire and fibers and winds forward -third layer of wire- and builds the wing case just as the book says.
Thanks for the video Silver.

I do recall he said in the book that the wire used ''is a little thicker than a human hair'' and I never found any very fine wire in fly shops, although I have a few windings from small relays and transformers that come close to his description, .003" by my micrometer. not a lot of weight even in three layers and it makes a very slim profile. The wire in the clip appears thicker.

now I need to go tie some PTNs and some Teeny's too.
 

JoJer

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I've been tying a long time with recycled copper motor wire. Good source for very fine: There are two very fine wraps around the scanning lens in CD players. My Harbor Freight micrometer won't measure it, it's too fine. The cheap portable players are plentiful at used stores.
 
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bumble54

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Although it doesn't show in the video, Sawyer used copper wire that was varnished a deep maroon colour, he also doubled over the thorax three times to give three thicknesses of fibres after twisting the fibres and wire together for the body, this gives a slim body with a very pronounced thorax which he noticed in the hatching nymphs. I had two of his PTN's given to me by a cousin of mine, which he bought from Sawyer personally.

Various coloured copper wire in different thicknesses are available and I use 0.30 mm and 0.10 mm a lot for tying, black, maroon/claret, ( listed as wine coloured ), and purple are the ones I use most, I would love some olive coloured wires, unfortunately all the suppliers on the net seem to be out of stock at the moment.Searching for 0.20 mm but can't find any at the moment.
 

LePetomane

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Thans for the Sawyer video. Hans Weilenmann has one on YouTube as well. The video quality is a little better than Sawyers. He does a modification but the end result is the same. Last August I fished that pattern below a hopper on the Boulder River. August is peak hopper time in that area. I caught more on the nymph than I did on the hopper.
 

ddb

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Here is Davy MacPhail's version. As always, a technique rich, no nonsense, enjoyable video.

YouTube
 

LePetomane

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SilverCreek, that is enough copper wire for many lifetimes. I have fished this fly in a size 18 on Silver Creek (Idaho) and had pretty good luck. I may be headed there this summer. I'm thinking of throwing a few rods, a camera, a few lenses and my dog in the car and taking a road trip.
 

trev

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Here is Davy MacPhail's version. As always, a technique rich, no nonsense, enjoyable video.

YouTube
Nice fly but not much like Sawyer's, imo, Davy has a clump of a tail and almost no thorax and by starting the wire at the eye he has elininated a good part of the weight; three things that in my mind define Sawyers nymph. Davy does keep the body slender, I like that.
 

LePetomane

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Davy does keep the body slender, I like that.
I think that is what matters the most. A "buggy" fly will not sink as fast and requires weight. I don't fish them as deep as I would fish if I were using a strike indicator.
 

trev

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Of interest to me is the hooks Frank used, he refers to the hook sizes 00, 0, & 1 in his book and I have seen a photo of a display of his flies for sale that also was marked with those sizes. I've always used #16- 2xl for most of mine, but, it intrigues me that I can't find his hooks listed anywhere.
 

redietz

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Of interest to me is the hooks Frank used, he refers to the hook sizes 00, 0, & 1 in his book and I have seen a photo of a display of his flies for sale that also was marked with those sizes. I've always used #16- 2xl for most of mine, but, it intrigues me that I can't find his hooks listed anywhere.
Those are sizes in the "new" system, where they tried to establish a standard where hook sizes increase as the numbers increased. Although it was around for decades, it never really caught on, and today we use the "old" system. Size "1" in the new system is the same as size 14 in the "old" system. They go up from there; size 2=13, size 3=12 and so on. Below 1 (14) the sizes started going to "0", "00", etc. So, the sizes you mentions are:

1 = 14
0 = 15
00 = 16
 

trev

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Thanks, Bob. I guessed it was something like that but figured it was a brand specific system. Every town that had a hook making industry had one or several "standards" and every brand name had "standards" within those "standards", I just don't recall ever reading about the increasing size system. In re-reading Sawyer's book recently, the hook size was there again and when I searched the 'net I found no answer.
 
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