Pheasant Tail Nymphs (or PTNs) hadn’t really worked for me in the past when I’d used them. Except for one solitary and very savage take one drizzly day, which ripped the flyline through my wet fingers causing it to burn them as it did so, I’d never had a fish even touch a PTN. Time to experiment!
So, I had used shop bought PTNs sometime before and never had a fish touch them. I was aware of their overall colour and profile: perfect for a Baetis nymph (or olive nymph) imitation. I also had some shop bought tailless PTNs with a pronounced thorax: perfect for a brown Chironomid pupa (or buzzer pupa). But it was the tailed Baetis-like PTNs that interested me more. The one solitary, finger scorching take that I had had, came to a PTN with a tail and a soft hackle. It also sported a silver holographic tinsel thorax. This made perfect sense if was taken as a Baetis nymph, as the fast swimming nymph uses internal gases to help it float to the surface. Once there though their movements normally slow down as they begin to escape from their shuck. And when that take came, the fly had just been cast and was just settling in the water. It would have been fishing just below the surface and almost statically. But that was ages ago, and I’d since lost the fly ‘in the deeps’ to a submerged rock, I’d had no more takes to my other shop bought PTNs.
I got chatting to an angler on my local water and he enthused about the virtues of the PTN. That got me thinking again about that take! Perhaps it was time to experiment with the PTN, this time using my own soft hackle PTN patterns. Natural pheasant shades and dark olive would be my central colours. The soft hackle PTN patterns would need tails and soft hackles too. Later I would go on to create weighted versions of my more successful PTN patterns but for now unweighted flies would suffice. I have included the most successful soft hackle PTN patterns that I have created from the initial batch below.
The most successful PTN pattern was this one:
Closely followed by this soft hackle PTN pattern:
The rest of the batch: