Today, we jump right into the step x step of how you can tie nymphs for fly fishing.  The videos that follow will walk you through the basics of tying a nymph.

In the last Module 2, you should have worked through the basic techniques and practiced tying the wooly bugger each day this week.  How does it feel?  Not perfect?  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

In fact, an imperfect fly is usually better.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hammered fish on a fly that was thrashed.  So, don’t be afraid to use the flies you just tied even if they don’t look great.

If you want a reminder about Module 2, just click here and you can get caught up.

You should also have ordered and received your materials for this week’s fly – The Pheasant Tail.

If you still have questions this week, you can connect with me directly here.  Just let me know what you are struggling with.

Now we’re ready to jump into this weeks content.

We’ll be covering nymphs today and will be tying the pheasant tail nymph.  We will also talk about different hooks, weighting flies, beads, look at the thread base and other nymph tying options.

Table of Contents – Nymphs for Fly Fishing

Chapter 1:  Introduction to Module 3

Chapter 2:  Understanding Fishing Hook Size and Shape

Chapter 3:  Fly Tying Thread Base

Chapter 4:  Weighting a Nymph

Chapter 5:  Beadhead Flies

Chapter 6:  Tying with Flash

Chapter 7:  Action Item Video for Module 3

Chapter 8: Fly Materials for Next Weeks Fly

Chapter 9:  Conclusion

Chapter 10:  Action Item List for the Week


Ch. 1 – Introduction to Nymphs for Fly Fishing Module 3

Watch this introductory video #22 before moving on:

Before we get into the next section I wanted to highlight a couple of items that I will cover below but not in super detail.  Euro nymphing and the hooks and flies that go along with it include jig hooks.



Here’s a video that talks about using a jig hook and a great fly you can use to tie one:

As you can see in the video from Mcfly, you don’t have to tie a complex pattern to have a great fly.


Ch. 2 – Understanding hook shape and size

watch this video #23 before moving on:

There’s a hook for just about every type of bug out there and then some.  You can get as specialized as you would like.  I discuss the different hooks in general and the details of the hook types and shapes we are using in this course.

As you start expanding outward with your fly tying you will eventually pick up new fly sizes and shapes.  For this course, there are a few general hooks that will work for the flies we tie and a number of other types.

First let’s talk about general terminology.  This link goes into the details of the terminology around the hook itself.  Key items like the hooks eye, bend and barb are covered here.  Review this page before moving on, but I want you to focus more on the type of hook you will be using.

The different patterns we use call for different hooks.  Last week you tied a wooly bugger which used a streamer hook with a 3x long shank.  Now you know that many streamer hooks have a larger x number.  3x being longer shanked than a 2x.  The larger the x number, the longer the hook.

This video describes the X and wire size in a minute:


This week we are going to tie a pheasant tail nymph which used a shorter and more compact hook.  These nymph hooks are often thicker and stronger as well.  Adding extra wait to help the fly sink.

Dry fly hooks on the other hand, are very light hooks that are intended to float on the surface.  These hooks typically have lighter wire hooks compared to the same size nymph hook.

Hook sizes are a little backwards as well.  The larger the hook size number, the smaller the hook.  So, a size 18 dry fly hook is smaller than a size 10 dry fly hook.  We will be using sizes 6 through 16 for this course, but there are plenty of hooks in sizes 18 + that you may use for trout.

I’m not going to get into the names of the different hooks for this course but we will cover this in a subsequent course.


Ch. 3 – Thread Base

Watch video #24 before moving on:

We talked about this briefly during the wooly bugger session, but I want to remind you about thread base.  Thread base is just the base layer of thread that goes on the hook before you start adding any materials.

A thread base will help minimize chance that your materials will twist on you while you are tying.

It’s usually easiest to start at the hook eye when you put your thread on the hook the first time.  Then just wrap back until you reach the back of the fly.

As you get more comfortable with materials this step will go faster.  Here’s some additional information on thread size as you get into this step:

thread size
photo via:

Ch. 4 – Weighting Nymphs for Fly Fishing

watch this video #25 before moving on:


Putting extra weight on a hook can be critical in some fishing situations.  It depends on the depth and speed of water as well as other factors, and thinking about this as you approach the vise will be helpful.

I’m going to show you how to wrap weight onto your hook prior to tying a fly.  this weight willbe in the form of lead wire which comes in different diameters and weights.  It might also come in the form as copper wire.  Or could come in the form of a weighted beadhead.

Here’s how you add weight in these few examples.  There are times when you might only want to put one strip along the top of the fly.  This is referred to as a keel.  How do you know how much weight to use?  This will vary so keeping a variety of weights in your box will be helpful.

For Euro style flies, many anglers choose to use the weight of a tungsten bead in various sizes to fill out the fly box.  Here is a full list of beads from Fly Fish food:

photo via:

beads for fly tyingWe will talk about beads a bit more in the next section.

There is an additional technique called flattening the wire.  Flattening the wire helps the bug look a little more similar to nature as many stoneflies and other insects are not completely rounded.  You can imitate gills and other nature features after flattening the fly.



Ch. 5 – Beadhead Flies

watch this video #26 before moving on:


Additional simple “add-ons” that you will likely use when tying nymphs include beads and flash.  A bead can add weight to the fly or just give it a little extra sparkle or something a little different.  A little flash in a fly can be just want you need to mix things up.

Don’t be afraid to test it out but don’t use too much material.  Sometimes just a little flash is all you need.  For any given pattern a flash version and a traditional non flash version is good to have in the box.

Here’s how to place a bead on a fly.  Beads can be many different colors and gold isn’t always the best.  Here’e a few different types of flash, but they all do the same thing.  Add something to attract the fish and change things up a little.


Ch. 6 – Adding Flash

watch this video #27 before moving on:


Adding flash to your fly can make the difference between catching a fish and getting skunked.

I’m not saying you should always put flash in your fly but you should always be testing.

Uncle Cheech from Fly Fish Food was on our Wet Fly Swing Fly Fishing Podcast and talked about how often he uses flash in episode 263 here: 

(In the podcast episode above Cheech shares his Top 12 Nymph Fly Patterns)

This is one of the great things about tying your own flies.  You can tie up 12 different variations of the same fly, and you should at times.

Flashabou and Krystal Flash are two common brands of flash you can add to your fly, but there are so many more these days.

Here is Jay Nicholas with a quick video from the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog:

It may seem a little weird to add something as synthetic and bold as this sparkly stuff but the fish don’t seem to mind.  In fact they will eat it up.  Like a pink hot spot in a euro fly, a flashback Krystal flash wing case can kill out there!

You will be imitating air bubbles and similar glaring irregularities in the water.  We are usually tying these on nymphs so the fish won’t have a lot of time to verify they are plastic.

Play around with adding flash and testing on the river.  Check back with me on Instagram if you are reading along.  Dave on Instagram @wetflyswing


Ch. 7 – Your Fly Tying Action Item of the Week

Watch video #28 and tie the Pheasant tail nymph before moving on:


Follow the step by step video to tie the first of your nymphs for fly fishing.   Click here if you have a major hangup so I can coach you through.  There are more basic nymphs you can tie but the P. Tail is one of the best so let’s go for it!

I also wanted to share another version of the Pheasant tail from one of the great fly tyers on the planet here:


Chapter 8 – Fly Materials for Next Weeks Fly

Watch video #29 on materials before moving on:  


Your fly materials for the soft hackle next week:

Hooks:  Click on this link to get size #12 wet fly hooks.

peacock hearl:  Click on this link to get peacock herl.

Soft Hackle Saddle:  Click on this link to get a soft hack saddle.


Chapter 9. Nymphs for Fly Fishing Conclusion

Watch video #30 before moving on:



  1. Watch videos #22 through #27 in this module
  2. Follow each video step by step to prepare for your first fly
  3. Watch video #28, and tie your fly as we go.  Practice with and without beads.
  4. Note any major problems you are having.
  5. Tie at least 6 pheasant tails this week (1 per day)
  6. Send me an email here with a list of struggles you had and attach a photo of your completed pheaasant tail pattern.
  7. Purchase the soft hackle materials for next weeks fly pattern at the links above.
  8. For a free personalized coaching call, click here and I’ll help you through your struggles this week.

Click on the links below if you need to get caught up:

Fly Tying Course:  Module 1

Fly Tying Course:  Module 2

Fly Tying Course: Module 3 (Current)


If you have completed Module 3 and ready to move onto Module 4, Please click on the link below to move onto Module 4:

Fly Tying Course:  Module 4