The Pheasant Tail Nymph or P.T. is one of the most effective nymph patterns you can carry in your fly box. Many days on the river have been turned into exceptionally fine days by tying on a Pheasant Tail and heading for the nearest riffle. In most cases, if you can put the fly close enough to a trout he will pick it up without hesitation.
This nymph closely resembles the May Fly Nymph, and with a few slight variations can be modifted to meet most fishing situations. You may try adding some foam to the wing case to make it float in the film or wind some crystal flash through the body. A very good addition is either gold or silver tinsel used as the wing case.
The fly may be dressed with or without legs. I prefer a second bunch of pheasant tail tied in for the wing case and pulled back as legs.
However you choose to vary this pattern is up to you, but the pattern that follows has always worked well for me.
Hook: Mustad 3906B or DAIRIKI 075 Size 12 to 22.
Thread: Brown or black 6/0 or 8/0
Ribbing: Fine copper wire
Tail, body, wing, case, legs: Pheasant tail
Thorax: Peacock herl
Step 1: Attach tying thread and tie in the copper wire ribbing. Select a small bunch of fibers from a barred pheasant center tail.
(Note: If you will pull the fibers down to the side before trimming them off the feather it will align the fiber tips and eliminate stacking them.)
Step 2: Tie in the tail, which should extend 1/2 the length of the hook. Tie the tail down with only one or two wraps of thread, so as not to have a large thread build-up at the tail. Then move your thread to the center of the hook. Do not trim the butt ends of the fibers off.
Step 3: Wrap the remaining butt ends forward to form the body. The tail fibers are usually thicker toward the butt end and should automatically taper the body. Rib with the copper and trim both copper and remaining pheasant fibers.
Step 4: Select a secondary pheasant tail feather. From the short side of the feather, remove a small section proportionate to the width of the thorax (1/8 to 1/4 inch), again pulling the fibers down to align the tips before trimming from the feather. Once removed, this section should be trimmed until its overall length is equal to the hook plus the tail. This will allow the legs to be the proper length when they are pulled back. Tie this section in where the body ended. Tie in several peacock herls and wrap forward to form the thorax. Leave extra room for the head.
Step 5: Pull the wing case over and tie down with two or three wraps. Divide the fibers that extend over the head into two equal parts and fold them back along each side of the hook. Tie them back by finishing the wraps for the head. Whip finish and cement.