Al Campbell, Field Editor

January 12th, 2004

Too Simple PMD Nymph
PMD Nymph
Al Campbell

Most of us think that fly tying has to be somewhat complicated to work properly. For some reason we believe that any fly that is real simple to tie, just can't be very effective. Although that is far from the truth, I think it seems to satisfy our egos a bit if the fly we use is a little bit hard to tie. Maybe it's a matter of feeling worthy to catch a fish if the fly was hard to tie?

I'm of the other mindset. I believe I would rather be fishing than tying flies when the weather is right. I'm also convinced that the fish never look my fly over nearly as much as humans do, so if it looks somewhat close to something they might want to eat, I'll catch fish.

I was a bit hesitant to show you my "too simple" fly patterns, because I'm sure there will be a few who will cry heresy when they see how easy these flies are to tie. To some, it will be an abandonment of a reputation I have built as a fly tier. How could anyone who knows how to tie so many complex flies resort to something as low as real simple flies?

I'm going to make it even worse. I'll tell you now that I prefer to fish flies that are very simple to tie. I think they are actually more productive than many of the complex patterns we often use. The vast majority of flies I use on panfish and trout are so simple, that many wouldn't even think of using them, but also so productive, I wouldn't leave home without them. Many of the flies I will be showing you in the next few months, (I won't be doing simple flies every week, but at least every month), are favorites of mine for fishing famous rivers like the Bighorn and Missouri in Montana.

It's simple folks. Simple flies catch as many fish as complex flies do. In fact, they catch more; but many people will never know how well they work, because they will never try them. Don't let that happen to you. If you can't justify using a simple fly for any other reason, at least try one when you are short of time to tie up your favorite patterns, and want to fill your fly box with something that works.

Too Simple PMD Nymph

List of materials:
  • Hook - Any standard nymph hook, even cheap ones will do. I'm using a size 16 Mustad 3399A hook.

  • Tail - Tan punch embroidery yarn.

  • Body - Tan punch embroidery yarn.

  • Legs - Any soft feather fibers. I'm using fibers from the soft side of a pheasant tail feather.

  • Thread - 6/0 rusty brown Danville.

Tying steps Too Simple PMD Nymph:

    1. Start the thread and build a head for your fly right away.

    2. Select some soft feather fibers to use as legs.

    3. Tie in your leg fibers, leaving them long, maybe 1 the shank length.

    4. Trim the excess.

    5. Now tie on your punch embroidery yarn.

    6. Use your thread to make a smooth underbody, right up to the leg material.

    7. Now, whip-finish your thread behind the leg material.

    8. Trim the thread. Your fly should look something like this now.

    9. Make one wrap of punch embroidery yarn.

    10. Now, use your whip finisher to build a body by whip finishing the yarn into place.

    11. Work the yarn progressively forward, but don't use too much tension or it will be hard to finish the fly. At this point, you'll want to fold the legs back.

    12. Use your finish wraps to hold the legs down. You'll need at least two wraps in front of the legs.

    13. When you reach the head you created in step one, release the whip finisher and pull the slack out of your yarn through the tail.

    14. Trim the tail and legs, then add a drop or two of glue to the head and back.

It's that simple, but also a very effective fly. I use the same pattern in various sizes and colors to imitate dozens of nymph species. I catch panfish and trout on it, and I never worry about how long it took to tie it or how much it cost if I lose a fly. Are you willing to try it?

I use punch embroidery yarn in a lot of my patterns. It is simply the easiest dubbing substitute I have found. For all of you who have asked where you can buy it, here is a link: It isn't expensive, and it is so simple to use, many will feel guilty using it. For the rest of you, give it a try.

Oh, by the way, if you don't feel guilty using this fly, stay tuned; I'll be showing you a lot more in the months ahead. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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