Monthly Archives: January 2003

Sparkle-Pheasant Tail Nymph

While the pheasant tail nymph requires little introduction, this variation may be new to many. The addition of a bead to the pheasant tail nymph has proven very effective to fly fishers the world over. This "Sparkle Pheasant Tail" nymph takes the attractive nature of the shiny bead to the next level. If you were to look in my nymph box, you would see two tidy rows of these flies, made up mostly of #10s and #16s.

The #10s I use in any fast water, the #16s I use in very small or slow-moving streams. It has worked in every trout river i’ve ever fished, making it a personal favorite. Chances are, you likely have most or all of these materials at hand right now. Rob. P.S. Tie more than one, you’ll need it!

Tying The Sparkle-Pheasant Tail Nymph Pattern

Hook:Tiemco #2487 (caddis/scud hook)
Bead:Gold 1/8" (size#10) 3/32" (size#16)
Thread:Black 8/0
Tail:Peasant tail fibers
Rib:Med./Small copper wire
Abdomen:Pheasant tail fibers
Sparkle:Pearl Krystal Flash and white Z-Lon
Thorax:Peacock herl

Slip the bead onto the hook and make several wraps of .020" lead wire behind it on the shank. Trim wire and push it up against the bead. Tie in thread (i’ll often use black 6/0 for this step) and wind back and over the the lead wraps and secure them. Using the thread, create a taper as shown. This will help the pheasant tail fibers take a nice form when wrapped.

Wind thread back, and tie in the copper wire.

Trim approx. 8 pheasant tail fibers from a tail feather (ringneck pheasant) keeping the tips aligned as much as possible. Tie in as the tail and wind forward to secure it.

Trim approx. 10 pheasant tail fibers and tie in at the tail. Wind forward as shown, and tie off when you reach the black portion of the fibers., or about 2/3 of the way to the bead.

Wind the copper rib forward and tie off.

Tie in a pc. of white Z-Lon, approx. 2/3s of a strand.

Double up a strand of Krystal Flash and tie in, ahead of Z-Lon. Gently hold the Krystal flash in a rearward direction, and wind back your thread to the Z-Lon’s tie-in point. This will keep them facing back.

Tie in 4 pcs. of peacock herl and wind forward creating the thorax. Tie-off and trim the butts of the herl.

Trim the Krystal Flash to the desired length, and do the same for the Z-Lon. NOTE: I like the Krystal Flash to be slightly longer than the Z-Lon. Make several wraps of thread behind the bead, trim it and add a few drops of head cement.

The finished Fly

By |January 25th, 2003|Tying Nymphs-Emergers|0 Comments

Fishy’s Hopper Pattern

I would hazard a guess that there are few tiers who have not heard the name Jay "Fishy" Fullum. Author of "Fishy’s Flies" and a columnist for both American Angler and Fly Tyer magazines, Jay has a well-deserved reputation for innovative, fun patterns for warm, cold and saltwater gamefish. My experience with Jay dates back a few years to the IWFF forum. It was there that I introduced myself to him while he took a break from tying an enormous foam-bodied ant. I quickly got the sense that Jay was as charismatic as his patterns. "What kind of trout do you think that’ll catch?" I asked with a smile. Jay burst into the story of how he came up with the pattern, and assured me that it has found it’s way to the mouths of many trout. Sensing he could take a joke, I suggested that the trout on that side of the border might think its real, but our trout "up here" are smart. With a knowing smile, he replied "just try it." He reached out his hand, and dropped an ant in mine.

This was, as it turns out, indicative of Jay’s generosity. I bought the sample box of flies from him (pictured below, never fished of course) as well as some of his "mini-hoppers." While I didn’t have great luck with his ant (trout IQ not a factor i’m sure), his hoppers were a different story. I tried this fly for the first time on the upper Credit one sunny, breezy August afternoon. The FIRST cast, a trout hit the hopper so fast after it landed, that I nearly forgot my next move! For a solid hour, I fished that very same fly. A trout "slammed" that hopper on almost every other drift. Note: I didn’t use the word "rise," I used the word SLAM! These trout were happy to see this tasty morsel, I was happy to see the trout! That very fly, like the blue dun dry that hooked my first trout, has been retired to a special corner of my box. I sent an email to jay before Christmas asking where to get the materials for this fly, and gave him my contact information. To my amazement, Jay called me at work the next day, and offered to provide me with the materials to try the pattern. The package arrived just before Christmas break. Santa could fly past my house for all I care, I’M SET!!!
I’d like to thank Jay for helping me get to this point with his great pattern. Jay’s AWESOME book "Fishy’s Flies" is available through I’d also like to thank Stackpole Books for permission to tie Jay’s pattern on

Closed cell foam, yellow (from a kickboard/flutterboard) I bought mine at "Splashables Inc." Pool supply in Etobicoke (416) 620-4954
Permanent Markers-Prismacolor 167 Apple Green, 28 Olive Green (art supply stores like Loomis & Toles)
5 minute epoxy-any hardware store
Nail polish-NYC #110 green (got mine at Zellers)
Black Paint-I used Vinyl Jig&Lure paint, available at fly/tackle shops
Rubber Sili legs-English Angling Trappings (CT, USA) (203) 746-4121 ask for Jimmy Krul, tell him what you’re tying.

Tying Fishy’s Hopper Fly Pattern

Hook:Tiemco 100, size #12 (or any standard dry fly hook)
Thread:Yellow 3/0 (chartreuse 3/0 optional)
Body:Yellow, closed-cell foam, colored with permanent markers
Belly:5 minute epoxy, painted light green
Legs:Chartreuse/black sili legs (small)
Eye:Black paint


Using a VERY sharp utility knife and a ruler, cut 3/16"x3/16"x3/4" long pcs. of the foam.

Using sharp scissors, trim the bottom and sides of the "rear" of the body to a gentle taper.

Side view of hopper body, ready to tie.

Tie in yellow thread, and wind back to the bend.

Make three gentle wraps, tight enough to hold but not cut the foam. Lift the head-end of the foam and wrap the thread forward. (about 4 close wraps)

Make three gentle wraps again, wrap forward in the same manner

Make three wraps, and wind forward about HALF way to the eye. Angle thread up 45 degrees as shown and bind down the foam close to the eye where it meets the hook. If it slips, lift the head, and wind back a bit. Start this operation from a little further back.

Make a few tight wraps, tie off. (I add a drop of head cement for security)

Using the broad end of the marker, and color the back olive.

Using the apple green, color the sides and bottom where possible.

On a scrap pc. of cardboard, mix a bit of the 5 minute epoxy. Using a toothpick or bodkin, cover the thread wraps on the belly of the fly with the epoxy.

Before it has set (about 10 minutes later) paint the epoxy with the light green nail polish.

When that has dried (I leave it overnight) thread a half of a silo leg through a large needle.

Behind the first thread wrap, push the needle through the body and cut from the needle when centered. (you can adjust a bit if necessary)

Using the 3/0 chartreuse thread (or same yellow 3/0) tie in at the middle as shown, not too tight. Gently pull the legs back and wrap the thread over them to hold them back. Tie off. A gentle touch is required. If you make the wraps too tight, the legs will flare out perpendicular the fly. Be gentle, epoxy is coming.

Mix a small amount of the 5 minute epoxy and lightly coat the tie-off point for the legs, top and sides of the hopper. (from the legs forward)

Using a blunt-ended toothpick (long drill bit, about 5/64" is what I use) create the eye by dipping it into the paint, and simply pressing it onto the fly where shown. Like the nail polish step, I do this before the glue sets-up to make it adhere that much better.

Fishy’s Hopper

Have some fun, try this fly. If you want some more awesome flies in your vest this spring/summer, do what I did; contact and pick up Jay’s new book. Rob O’Reilly.

By |January 18th, 2003|Tying Dry Flies, Tying Streamers-Poppers|1 Comment

Herl-Bodied Dry Fly

Like many of the flies I’ll likely include on "O’Reilly’s Tying Bench," the herl-bodied dry fly is of mysterious lineage. I found this pattern a number of years ago in one of the fly fishing magazines. After an hour or two of searching, I’ve given up on finding the article. The important thing is that the fly has a sort of generic "buggieness" that trout just seem to like.

In the past 3 seasons, I’ve used this pattern in a few specific scenarios. #1 I like it as a sort of searching/slow water pattern #2 I use it when fish are rising but won’t take what I think they "should" be taking and #3 I like it on "wild fish" in rivers that get very little pressure. This last point probably speaks more to my personal love of finding small, wild trout that have that delightful, innocent way of smashing a fly the moment it hits the water. Trout like these often take almost any fly, but this quill-body dry is a personal favorite of mine. It works so well on "difficult" trout that I’ve grown to enjoy using it on the little gems too. I hope it becomes a favorite in your fly box. Rob O’Reilly

Tying The Herl-Bodied Dry Fly Pattern

Hook:Tiemco #101/#100 or Daiichi 1180
Thread:Black 8/0
Wing:Mallard Flank Dyed Yellow
Tail:Medium Dun spade hackle fibers
Abdomen:Stripped peacock herl
Thorax:Peacock herl
Hackle:Medium dun

Select a mallard flank feather with nice barring, align tips and snip from stem. Experiment with quantity, the best feathers usually have enough to make a nice pair of wings. Tie on as shown, making the first few wraps of thread gently to prevent the fibers from rolling around the hook shank. Secure with a few tight wraps, trim off the butts at an angle and wrap thread over them to create a nice taper for the body.

Pull the group back and make a few wraps of thread in front of the wing to help secure it in an "almost" upright position.

Separate the group into 2 equal bunches and make a "figure 8" between them with the thread. With just enough tension on the thread to keep it under control (but NOT pull the wing), make a few wraps around the base of the far wing.

Repeat on the opposing wing. NOTE:I add a drop of head cement to these thread wraps at the base of the wings.

Wind thread back to the bend of the hook and tie in hackle fibers for the tail. Prepare the peacock herl by using a pencil eraser to remove the fuzzy green fibers. Sometimes it comes of easily, sometimes it takes some effort. Some tiers prefer the herl that comes from the area close to the "eye" on the feather. Generally speaking, the larger and flatter the better. Tie in so that the fly will have the widest part of the herl wrapped on. The abdomen will req. approx. 1" or so of length to create.

Wrap forward, overlapping the previous wrap slightly. Tie off, snip tag end of herl off.

Select a feather for the hackle, snip of hackle fibers where it will be tied in. (stripping them off makes the hackle stem a bit more slippery, making it more likely to slip) Tie in. Tie in 2-3 pcs. of peacock herl, wind forward.

Tie off. Making a wrap or two through the herl with the thread will make sure that it won’t come undone, even if a trout’s tooth should "nick" the herl.

Wind the hackle forward, approx. 2 winds behind the wing, 3 in front.

Tie off hackle and form a small thread head. Add a drop of head cement to the head.

Finished fly

TIP: I’ll often flatten the wings as shown to create a "spinner-like" profile. This will often trigger strikes if the fish are coming up for, but refusing the fly. I’ll use this technique when fishing almost any "hackled" mayfly pattern.

By |January 7th, 2003|Tying Dry Flies|0 Comments