Pheasant and Copper
Flies With a Story

"... the Pheasant and Copper nymph dropper buried itself... into my left cheek...."

Fly Tied By: Garry Payne, owner of The Fly Hatchery, Twizel, South Island, New Zealand.
Recipe By
: Traditional
Story By: Ed Laine, "Buxtehude"
Home: Charlotte, North Carolina
Ed started trout fishing when he was seven years old and is now passing on his skills to his grandson and sometime fishing pal, Alexander McDonald. When Ed is not fishing the Carolina Smoky Mountains he works as a Manufacturer's Rep.

The Royal Wulff slapped the right side of my fedora a split second before the Pheasant and Copper nymph dropper buried itself deeply, high and hard, into my left cheek. The nymph was only an #18 and I flatten the barbs on my flies so I just pinched the bend of the hook and yanked it out, only then remembering the guide had tied on one of his flies Ė barbed.

This 7 1/4 lb. brown was taken with a
#18 Pheasant and Copper, on 5x tippet. 
My guide, Steve Carey of Twizel, South Island, NZ
 is holding the fish.

The huge brown had not moved, the guide, frustrated with my performance, was up on the bank, crouched behind a bush, pointing and shouting instructions, and the wind was still roaring down the valley. I was wading wet in glacier-fed, cold water, grinning and bleeding and ducking, lest my next cast be equally astray. Yet, there was no place on Godís green earth I would rather have been at that very moment than right there, hip pocket-deep, in New Zealandís Ahuriri River.

The blood sacrifice apparently assuaged the river gods for the wind slackened just long enough for me to launch a guide-pleasing cast. The dry and the dropper slipped through the small gap between the rock and the turf overhang, drag-free. "He took the dropper! LIFT! LIFT!", yelled the guide, loud enough to make the nearby sheep scurry off. I was into a very good brown with a size #18 nymph on a 5X tippet, a 5-weight Winston and a Hardy LRH. Thus, we ran the banks a bit until I got the fish into some slow water about 100 yards down-river. Seven and one-quarter pounds on the netís scale. I thanked the river gods as I released the fish, and then rinsed the dried blood from my cheek. Fair exchange by any standard.

Ed's nymph rig as described in this story.







--Ed Laine, "Buxtehude"

Size 18 Pheasant and Copper as tied by Garry Payne

Photo by Peter Frailey

Tying Sequence:

Hook: Sizes 10-18, Daiichi 1560 or Tiemco 3761 (or other 1x long nymph hook).
Thread: Black 6/0 or 8/0, depending on hook size.
Tail: Three cock ringneck pheasant tail fibers, tied in at approximately the length of the hook gap dimension.
Underbody: Same tail fibers wrapped forward.
Rib: Bright copper wire of appropriate gauge for the hook size, tied in at tail and wrapped forward. Note extra wraps for the thorax.
Wing Case: Ringneck fibers folded forward over wire thorax.
Legs: On larger sizes, pull or pluck a few tag ends or wing case fibers out to the side.

Remarks: This fly is essentially a modified Pheasant Tail Nymph (PTN) with extra copper rib wraps over the thorax to add weight and glitter. Frank Sawyer, the famous English riverkeeper originated the PTN many years ago. This version is Garry Payneís adaptation for New Zealandís South Island browns and rainbows, where it is often used as a dropper.


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