Fly of the Month – Hot Spot Gold Bead Pheasant Tail

From the September-October 2015 newsletter

hot-spot-goldFly of the Month – Hot Spot Gold Bead Pheasant Tail
Fly, Notes and Photos by Philip Rowley
Used by Permission

Hook: Daiichi 1120, 1250, 1560,
Thread: MFC 8/0 or UTC 70 Hot Red,
Orange or Chartreuse
Underbody: Uni Stretch, Hot Orange
Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Rib: Fine Copper Wire
Body: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Wing Case: Pheasant Tail Fibers and
Mirage Opal Mylar
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Legs: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Bead: Gold (Brass or Tungsten)

Tying Note: Coat wing case with a UV resin such as Loon’s UV Clear Fly Finish-Thick

In the early 1900’s, famed river keeper Frank Sawyer created the Pheasant Tail Nymph for targeting trout on England’s River Avon. The original Pheasant Tail, as its name would suggest, was constructed entirely cock ring neck pheasant tail fibers. Frank Sawyer used fine copper wire as tying thread, adding not only durability but additional weight.

The original Pheasant Tail Nymph proved to be an exceptional pattern. Over time the Pheasant Tail Nymph migrated across the Atlantic Ocean to North America. The late Al Troth is credited with amending the original pheasant tail to include a peacock herl thorax.

Today, no fly box would be complete without a comprehensive selection of Pheasant Tail Nymphs. A Pheasant Tail Nymph is one of my favorite river or stream patterns. It is also an excellent lake pattern, particularly when Callibaetis nymphs are active. During my travels, flashback versions have also served me well when trout are focused on zoo plankton and small baitfish.

Just about all of my Pheasant Tail Nymphs incorporate a pearlescent Mylar wing case or shellback. Standard pearl Mylar works fine but in recent years I favor mirage opal Mylar. The added Mylar flash does an excellent job suggesting the trapped gases many nymphs use to aid their emergence ascent and final transformation into winged adult. Many minnows feature dark bodies and a hint of belly flash. Once again, Flashback Pheasant Tails imitate this trait. A Mylar thorax version works as a small baitfish pattern. Flash also provides an element of attraction for a foraging trout to home in on, particularly in stained waters.

Many modern nymphs feature hot red, orange, chartreuse or pink hot spots. These hot spots help your nymphs stand out in a crowd drawing the attention of any opportunistic trout. I incorporate thread hot spots on most of my Pheasant Tails as I believe they make a difference. When trout are focused on minute zoo plankton a Flashback Pheasant Tail featuring a hot orange or chartreuse hot spot to mimic the predominant zoo plankton color has salvaged the day. For daphnia focused trout you can also incorporate a dubbed hot orange or chartreuse thorax.

More flies/commentary by Philip are at: and at A video of Philip tying this fly and other patterns is available at