Fly Of The Week
The Bird's Nest
The Bird's Nest
By Skip Morris

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

The Bird's Nest

. . . at one of my fly-tying clinics, I was asked to demonstrate the tying of the Bird's Nest. I had to confess that I was unfamiliar with the fly, though I'd heard mention of it. Since then, I've been hearing a lot about the Bird's Nest. One client-friend called last month and told he that he fished the Bird's Nest "all the time." "It almost always gets strikes," added. "Everyone around here is hot on it." "Here" meant California, but it seems that now anglers everywhere are "hot on it." The sudden popularity of the Bird's Nest seems ironic since Cal Bird, the creator of the Bird's Nest, tells me that he has been tying and fishing it since 1959.

In describing the tying of the Bird's Nest, Cal simply said that he adds the hackle by "several different methods," so I chose the method that I feel allows the greatest flexibility. The Bird's Nest can also be tied in other colors - cream, olive, and brown - and it can be weighted or unweighted.


Hook:  Heavy wire, 1X or 2X long, sizes 16 to 8 (the hook shown is a Daiichi 1710).

Thread:  Tan 8/0 or 6/0.

Weight:  Lead wire (optional).

Tail:  Mallard - or teal-flank feather fibers dyed bronze (or natural bronze mallard).

Rib:  Small copper wire.

Abdomen:  Natural grayish-tan Australian opossum or "Buggy Nymph" dubbing #16.

Hackle:  Mallard - or teal-flank-feather fibers dyed bronze.

Thorax:  Same as abdomen.

Tying Steps:

1. If you want to add lead, do so and secure the lead under thread; if not, start the thread two-thirds up the shank, tie in a section of fibers as tail (long; about three-quarter shank length). Trim off the fibers' butts. Tie in copper wire at the bend.

2. Dub a slightly tapered abdomen up two-thirds of the shank. Rib the abdomen with five or six turns of the copper wire. Secure the wire's end with thread and then add a half hitch.

3. If the fibers of your teal or mallard feather aren't squared at their tips, draw them to whatever angle to the stem will square them. Strip off, or snip off, the section. Hold the section flat over the shank as shown. The tips should reach to the far edge of the hook's bend.

4. With your thumb and finger, roll the fibers around the shank and then press the fibers tight to the abdomen. Take a loose turn of thread around the fibers, and then pull the thread tight. Add a few tight thread turns. Trim the fibers' butts.

5. Build a thorax over the front third of the shank. Build and complete a thread head to complete the Bird's Nest.

Finished Fly

Fishing the Bird's Nest:

The Bird's Nest is another attractor nymph; it suggests no more than a living, edible insect. Fish it dead drift, or try other approaches. ~ Skip Morris

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

Credits: From The Art of Tying the Nymph published by Frank Amato Publications. We thank them for use permission!

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