An Introduction to Fly Tying:
All Time Favorites - Hare's Ear and Pheasant Tail
By Al Campbell
If you had to pick the most popular nymphs
of all time, you'd be hard pressed to find two
nymphs more popular than the Pheasant Tail and
Hare's Ear. I would venture that more fish have
been caught on these two nymphs than any other
ten nymphs combined. The secret to their success is
probably in the fact that these nymphs do such a
good job of imitating a wide variety of aquatic
The Hare's Ear is a good pattern to imitate
a caddis larva case or a mayfly nymph. Don't
stop there though, it also does a good job
imitating a stonefly nymph or damsel fly nymph.
I guess it's success is due to the fact it
doesn't look exactly like anything, but it
does look a lot like everything in the nymph
world. Add the fact you can use dyed hair and
synthetic fibers in the dubbing mix, and you
can produce a nymph that looks like almost
The Pheasant Tail nymph is almost as versatile
as the Hare's Ear. Substitute dubbing for the
peacock herl in the thorax area, or use
bleached or dyed pheasant tail feathers,
and you can make a nymph that looks like
anything you want to imitate.
That's right, I suggested substituting materials.
These are basic, standard patterns, but you
have the freedom to alter them to meet your
needs. That's why so many people take up fly
tying in the first place; they can create flies
that better fit their needs by changing a standard
pattern a little. You are in control here.
It's your fly, and you have the freedom to make
it any way you want to, as long as you aren't tying
for commercial purposes. (Commericial tyers must
consistantly produce the same fly the buyer ordered.)
So get creative if you want, you might be surprised
by the results.
Hares Ear - List of materials:
Hook: Wet fly, regular or 1x long.
Eagle Claw L063; Mustad 9671; Tiemco 5262;
Tail: Guard hairs from a hare's mask
(the face and ears of a hare -rabbit).
Body: Coarse dubbing from a hare's mask
or a mix of hair and synthetic fibers.
Thorax: Dubbing, may be the same as
the body or a different shade or texture of
Wing case: Fibers from a turkey tail
feather or any similar feather.
Rib: Gold wire. (Copper wire can be
used to add a different effect.)
Thread - 6/0 or 8/0, color as desired
for effect, traditional is black or brown.
1. Start the thread on the hook. Clip a
small patch of hair from a hare's mask and remove
some of the long guard hairs. Save the rest of
the hair for later, and tie in the long guard
hairs as a tail. The tail should be approximately
half as long as the hook shank.
2. Tie down the gold ribbing wire to the hook.
3.Blend some hair from the face and ears of
a hare's mask, leaving the guard hairs in with the
under-fur. Dub a body approximately half the
hook shank long.
4. Wrap the gold wire around the body, evenly
ribbing the body into segments. Tie off the wire
5. Select 6 to 10 fibers from the tail
feather of a turkey or a similar
feather to serve as a wing case..
6. Tie in the wing case on top of the hook
7. Dub a thick thorax of the same dubbing
you used for the body.
8. Pull the wing case tightly over the
thorax and tie off behind the hook
9. Trim the wing case fibers, build the head,
whip finish and cement the head. Brush the body
and thorax with an old toothbrush to pick out the
dubbing a little and make the fly fuzzy.
Pheasant Tail - List of materials:
Hook: Wet fly, regular or 1x long. Eagle
Claw L063; Mustad 9671; Tiemco 5262; Daiichi
Tail: Three to six fibers from a
pheasant tail feather.
Body: Six to ten fibers from a
pheasant tail feather.
Rib: Copper wire. (Gold wire can
be used if desired.)
Thorax: Three or four strands of
peacock herl. (The coarse fibers from
a peacock tail feather)
Wing case: Pheasant tail
fibers, (an extension of the body
Legs: Pheasant tail fibers,
(an extension of the wing case).
Thread - 6/0 or 8/0. Color as desired
(traditionally black or brown).
1. Start thread. Remove three to six fibers
from a pheasant tail feather and tie in as a tail.
Tail should be approximately 1/2 to 2/3 as long
as the hook shank.
2. Tie in ribbing wire.
3.Select six to ten pheasant tail fibers and
tie down to the hook, tips first.
4. Wrap the pheasant tail fibers forward to
approximately 2/3 of the hook shank. Tie the
fibers down but don't trim them.
5. Rib the body with the wire, wrapping
the wire the reverse direction
you wrapped the body.
6.Fold the fibers you used for the body
back toward the hook bend and
7. Tie in three or four peacock tail
fibers (herl) for the thorax.
8. Wrap the peacock herl to form a thorax.
Tie off the herl and trim.
9. Grab the pheasant tail fibers you
folded back in step 6, and pull them
over the thorax to form a wing case. Tie
the fibers off behind the hook
eye, but don't trim.
10. Split the pheasant tail fibers into
two bunches, tying each bunch
back along the sides of the hook to form
two clumps of legs, one on each
side of the hook.
11. Trim each leg clump at approximately
the back of the thorax. Whip
finish the fly and cement the head.
You can modify each of these flies by adding a bead head or changing
some of the materials or colors.
By now, you've learned some tying skills, so it's
time to get a little creative. It's one thing
to tie a fly, but entirely another to design a
fly. In the first case, you are merely tying
someone else's creation. In the second case, you
are creating a fly that is similar to something
else, but designed to meet your needs.
There's nothing wrong with tying these flies
on a longer or shorter hook, substituting hair
for feather or feather for hair, or using
synthetic blends or fibers in the body or
thorax. For instance, a flashback nymph
replaces the wing case material with a piece of
You've worked hard to learn the skills
you have, now it's time to use them creatively.
You might be surprised by the results you
can obtain from a little creative experimentation.
See ya next week. ~ Al Campbell
Beginning Fly Tying Archives
[ HOME ]
[ Search ]
[ Contact FAOL ]
[ Media Kit ]
FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice