Ask any ten fly fishermen to name their favourite nymphs, and no two lists would be the same. However, some patterns seem to be constantly in the news, and in too many fly boxes, for them not to be justifiably famous. This selection contains well-proven fish deceivers old and new -from Victorian to contemporary creations.
Agile darting nymphs 1. Grey Goose Nymph An innovation of Frank Sawyer’s – one of the fathers of chalk stream nymphing – it’s slim, streamlined, fast sinking and easy to tie. He tied it for his deadly ‘induced take’ method – raising the nymph in a steady sweep in front of the target fish. Use it when you suspect pale wateries or spurwings are about to emerge. 2. Sawyer’s Pheasant Tail Nymph This famous nymph can be found in tackle shops all around the globe. Sawyer created this simple, effective pattern to represent any of the darkish coloured nymphs as they ascended to the surface to hatch. This was the pattern with which he devised the previously mentioned ‘induced take’ method.
Dun copies 3. Iron Blue Nymph The natural is a very striking little dun. Like its winged form, the nymph is quite dark and equally small. In decline on some rivers, many still hold good populations. From the vice of that great nymph fisherman, G. E. Skues, this very effective tie has stood the test of time – a must for every fly box. 4. Edwards’ Heptagenid Nymph This modern pattern fills a gap unexploited since dressers started tying nymphs. Devised to ‘close copy5 the nymph of the yellow may dun, it equally imitates those of the Rhithrogena, Ecdyonurus and Heptagenid insects. Used ‘dead drift’ in popply riffles and glides, it’s a fabulous fish fooler.
Old and new 5. Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear The winged form of this pattern was on the fly fishing scene in the Victorian era. Just when the wings were removed and it evolved into a first class river nymph is unknown. An excellent representation of a medium olive at the point of emergence — tie it moderately weighted or without any weight. 6. Gold Head Pupa Coming from the vice of Austrian tying ace Roman Moser, this is intended to represent a caddis pupa surrounded by its gas-filled pupal shuck, on its way to the surface to emerge. It is now used as a general pattern when no specific emergence is on. Fish it ‘on the swing1 or strip-retrieve it. 7. Killer Bug Sawyer devised this pattern in the early 1950s to imitate the freshwater shrimp. It is one of the easiest of all flies to tie and is deadly for grayling. Quite heavily weighted with copper wire to get down quickly, it can be used ‘dead drift’ where the current is fast enough, or cast to a sighted fish with the ‘induced take’ method. 8. Hans van Klinken’s Leadhead Nymph
This modern pattern is lethal – fish literally throw themselves upon it. It could pass as a cased caddis larva or small fish. Every fisherman should tie a few. 9. Walker’s Mayfly Nymph The late
Richard Walker’s most successful pattern, this takes thousands of fish each year.
Whenever mayfly emerge this pattern scores. For best results make sure you don’t tie it too full-bodied and use it with a quick figure-of-eight retrieve to imitate the fast- swimming mature nymph as it rises to the surface to emerge.