Developed in the PNW in the 1960s by Jim Teeny, this simple-to-tie fly has at least 30 IGFA world record fish to its credit, with species spanning the globe and every type of water. If you’ve got a hook, some thread, a pheasant tail feather, and a couple of hours on June 11th, we’ll show you how to tie your own record-setting fly. Send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to RSVP and get the meeting information.
What You’ll Need:
- Hook: Wet/Nymph/Gammarus/Shrimp hook, preferably 2x long (but normal shanks are fine). We will be tying on Daiichi 1160 or Firehole 315 hooks because we like the curved look for nymphs and shrimp. Any size between 4 and 18 will work for this nymph, and this nymph will work for almost any fish sized between chinook and panfish.
- Thread: Black or Dark Olive or Dark Brown 6/0 or 8/0 (any color will work though). We like Semper Fli’s Nano Silk because of its the strongest we’ve found but Uni, Danville, or anything else will work fine. We prefer thread that contrasts with your chosen pheasant tail color.
- Body: Cock pheasant tail in Olive, Dark Olive, Red, Brown, or Natural.
- Tail: Cock pheasant tail in Olive, Dark Olive, Red, Brown, or Natural.
- Select your hook, pinch the barb, and secure it in your vise.
- Starting at the eye of the hook, wrap your thread backward to somewhere between the point of the hook and where the barb was.
- Select 10-20 pheasant tail fibers (more creates a “fuller” fly, which is better for larger hooks) by spreading them out from the feather. Pinch the tips of the fibers so they are all fairly equal, then pull back towards the thick end of the feather to make them stand out.
- Use your scissors to cut the fibers free of the feather, or peel them off. Peeling requires less dexterity, but may break your fibers and certainly produces curlycues that will need to be cut off.
- Keeping the tips of the fibers together, trim the butt ends of the fibers so they are also equal.
- Hold the fibers above the shank of the hook with the tips at the back of the hook. Measure two to three (we prefer two) shank lengths of fiber and pinch there with your non-bobbin hand. This is the point on the fibers where you will tie them in.
- Hold the pinch point of the fibers above your thread, and wrap the thread a couple of times to secure the fibers in place before you pull tight. This will help keep the fibers on top of the shank and from spinning.
- Wrap your thread forward carefully, laying down the tail fibers, until you are about 1 hook-eye-length back from the eye of the hook. Let your bobbin dangle at this point.
- Use hackle pliers (or your bobbin-hand fingers if you don’t have hackle pliers) to pinch/grab the tail fibers, leaving an amount approximately the length of the distance between the hook point and the eye of the hook on the far side/outside/free side of the fibers from the hackle pliers and the hook. This will ensure your finished fly has legs that are about the proper length.
- Using your fingers/hackle pliers, counterwrap the tail fibers forward (towards the eye) around the hook shank. You want to end up with your hackle pliers/fingers snug against the underside of the hook shank. If you arrive at the eye of the hook with lots of excess, unwrap your fibers and re-wrap making sure to overlap each wrap more. If you run out of fiber length before arriving at the eye of the hook, unwrap your fibers and re-wrap with less overlap.
- Since you let your bobbin hang one eye-width back from the eye, and wrapped your fibers to the eye, you should have your thread further back on the hook than your fibers are. Keeping the fibers in place by dangling your hackle pliers or by keeping them pinched with your fingers, working to keep the thread wraps one eye-width back from the eye of the hook, wrap the thread over the fibers a few times, and pull tight. Wrap one or two more times and pull tight again before releasing the fibers from the hackle pliers/your fingers. They will splay out, but if you’ve secured them they will splay forward and not unwind from the hook shank. If they do unwind, simply collect them and repeat steps 9 and 10.
- Using your non-bobbin hand, push the fibers down under the shank of the hook and hold them back at a downward ~45* angle towards the hook. They should be just touching or a little past the hook point.
- Keeping the fibers in this position, wrap your thread between the eye of the hook and where these fibers attach. Wrap the thread backwards to lock these fibers into that ~45* angle. If you wrap too far back, your fibers will start to lay flatter against the underside of the shank. If you don’t wrap far enough back, the fibers will hang more straight down. You want them to sweep back to the hook point.
- Shape your head to either a bullet or torpedo shape before whip finishing, half-hitching, or however you finish your thread wraps. If you like to apply head cement at this time, go for it as you’ve produced a completed Teeny Nymph.