Tying a Pheasant Tail Nymph by Davie McPhail

In his book Nymphs and the Trout Frank Sawyer describes
"The great joy in trout fishing comes with the knowledge one has deceived a fish into taking an imitation of the natural insect on which it happens to be feeding. If the fisherman is a fly-tier there is added pleasure, for in the occupation of making an artificial, he will be filled with the anticipation of seeing his creation accepted by a trout in mistake for the insect he has been at such pains to copy."

In the years since Frank Sawyer created his ubiquitous Pheasant Tail Nymph, tied using just pheasant tail fibres and copper wire, the fly has undergone as many variations as there are fly-tiers. Many of these variations involve the addition of tying threads, peacock herl, dubbed thoraxes and many beadhead pheasant tail patterns are used all over the world.

Frank Sawyer MBE, was an English River Keeper who devised the PTN for use on the chalkstreams of Southern England.
He designed this nymph to imitate several species of the Baetis family, generally referred to as the 'olives'; it quickly became world-famous.

Davie's version below uses the original's two materials approach. and while most of us won't have access to the copper-red transformer wire in Sawyer's notes but modern wires are a suitable alternative.

Materials Used:

Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish and Superglue to improve the longevity of the pattern and prevent the wire from slipping whilst tying.

Davie recommends a ceramic bobbin holder, particularly when you're tying with wire, check them out HERE
Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE.