Today’s Tie: Skinny Nelson

We’ve had a discussion re: Simple Baetis Fly patterns and recipes revolving around such. The Skinny Nelson and minor variations of it have been part of the discussion, so I sat down to tie that one in particular. I think I’ll tie enough to fill up a row to keep as a staple fly, and after this round will tie the simple pattern discussed at the top of the thread next.

Here’s my go at it:

First attempt…not bad, it’ll fish, but I don’t like that my tail is too long and the head ended up too block-headed behind the eye making the thorax look a bit too big.
Skinny Nelson - Attempt 1

After a few tries I ended up with something I’m a bit more happy with – better tail dimensions and tapered front. Don’t get me wrong, the other versions will still make my fly box and I’m sure they’ll catch fish, but I’m working on tying better looking flies.
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Here are the details:

Skinny Nelson (bead optional):
Hook: Size 18 Mustad 3906B Wet Nymph Fly Hook (because I found a box on my table), otherwise I’d use TMC 3761 size 18
Thread: Thin black, 8/0 or Black 70 denier
Tail: pheasant tail, or brown or black hen hackle fibers,
Ribbing: Gold or copper ribbing, I used both x-small and brassie
Wingcase: Pearl (or other) flashabou
Thorax: Peacock Ice Dub

Following the recipe and instructions here, I tied this a little differently than I would my typical PT-style nymphs, and may continue to follow this route since it seems, intuitively, that it would offer a more even look along the fly body and more durability. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but I’ve been tying in ribbing right at the tail and not securing it along the length of the shank in the past, which gives the fly more junk in the trunk, and who likes a fly with a big butt?

Tie in thread behind the eye
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Wrap thread back toward the bend, tie in the tail, then wrap thread back up to the eye, then tie in the ribbing behind the eye.
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Wrap thread over the copper wire toward the bend of the hook along the shank of the hook, then wrap thread back to behind the eye once again.
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As you can see from the image above, that is where I tied in the flashabou wing case near the middle of two strands. Then, grab both ends of the flashabou, pull toward the back of the hook, and tie over the flashabou, toward the back of the hook, to secure it as the wingcase. Dub thread with peacock ice dub, wrap to behind the eye, and tie flashabou over the dubbing. Cut the excess, half-hitch or whip finish, and you’re done.
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Fly: Simple Pheasant Tail Nymph

Pheasant Tail Nymph:
Hook: Nymph size 12-20, but this is size 18. I tie mostly 16-18.
Thread: Green. This is Benecchi 12/0. It’s strong yet not bulky.
Tail: fiber from the tails of a Southeast MN pheasant – yeah, that’s right, southeast Minnesota!
Body: Same as above
Ribbing: copper wire or pearl krystal flash
Wingcase: pheasant tail
Thorax: Rainbow dub in this case, but millions of options. I also used green quick descent in the last example below. The traditional pheasant tail nymph doesn’t even use dubbing in the thorax…I don’t think…I’m pretty much just making that up or I’ve read it on the internet, so it must be true.

Order of events:

First, look over The Disaster and see what’s at hand.
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Wrap in the fancy, Italian thread.
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Tie on the tail and ribbing. Now, seriously! My perennial issue with tying pheasant tails has been too long of a tail and I’ve done it again! Instead of unraveling thread, I’ll just keep going…
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Wrap thread back to behind the eye, half-hitch, hold the tail and wrap it up with my fancypants rotary vise (seriously, Renzetti, I love you).
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Oh, what’s that? Your restless hunting dogs are barking at the back door just as you’re about to finish your fly? Okay, stupid dogs, but come on…just relax, hunting season is only *gasp* 9 months away. *sob*
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Next, I wrap the ribbing forward in the opposite direction of the body wrap. You must do this or your fly will die an early death. Wrap thread over the remaining pheasant tail, back toward the bend to secure the wingcase for the “proper” sized thorax, dub thread, wrap back toward the eye, pull the wingcase back to behind the eye on secure with half-hitch (or whip finish).
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For a little vindication after tying such a crappy pheasant tail nymph with too long of a tail, I tied up a couple more of these, but used green descent dubbing instead of the rainbow stuff…and I think I used a strand of pearl krystal flash for the rib instead of copper wire.
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When I’m finished, I put my flies in an easy to find, clean, uncluttered location to find when it’s time to fill my fly box with mediocre flies.
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Fly: Simple Midge Pattern

I need to tie up more midges. They’re good all year-round but I tend to fish them less in the spring and summer, which is more of a personal problem since there are still plenty of midges in the water and plenty of fish eating them.

Red (in this case, substitute preferred or available color) Midge:
What color should you tie your midges? Some advice offered here.
Hook: TMC 2488, size 20
Thread: Red – I’ve been using Benecchi 12/0, but whatever your preference
Rib: One strand of pearl krystal flash
Head: peacock herl, or simply a bead, or a little black dubbing

I went with what was close and find-able on my disaster of a tying desk. I still had red thread in the bobbin from tying scuds and these hooks were close. Strands of pearl krystal flash litter my desk and there are random beads hidden in all sorts of spots, so I was good to go with this simple pattern. Some crappy iPhone pictures…


Attach thread to hook, wrap to back bend, and tie in the strand of krystal flash (or wire, or whatever your preferred ribbing…)


Wrap thread to behind the eye, wrap the flash ribbing up to the front, and tie it down.


Try to find some peacock herl somewhere.


Wrap back toward the bend a short distance, tie in the herl, wrap the thread back up to behind the eye, wrap the herl ahead toward the eye, and secure with thread without crowding the eye. Give it a couple whips to finish. I forego head cement.


Fly: Orange Scud

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The Orange Scud is one of the most effective all-season flies in southeast Minnesota and is a great, basic tie for a beginner. It doesn’t need to be pretty. Used in a dual-nymph rig is good insurance for a catch no matter what’s hatching as the scuds are in most streams year-round thanks to the (over?)abundance of in-stream vegetation.

Hook: TMC 2488 size 14-16 (or whatever scud hook you like) or even a size 12. It may be true there aren’t any scuds in our small streams bigger than size 14, but I’ve caught a lot of fish on a really big, ugly, crappy size 12 scud.
Thread: Red (or orange, or whatever, really, but if you try blue it’ll just look superbly crappy)
Weight: Lead (or lead substitute, don’t lecture me)
Ribbing: Copper wire (I use brassie for just about everything because I don’t like to search my table for the other rolls of ultra wire)
Body: Orange nymph dubbing…real buggy-like
Back: I still have Gudebrod Metallic Braid that I use, but they may have stopped making that. Pearlescent Krystal Flash works fine too…find something that works.

Here’s how I tie my orange scud:

First, find the appropriately sized scud hook from your well-organized hook container or from that tragic mess of crap on your tying desk. My disorganization is well documented.
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Thread and lead on hook and wrap over weight, ending your wrap at the back bend of the hook.
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Wrap and secure wire first, then scud back. Why? You’ll bring the backing over the hook toward the eye after dubbing, then wrap the wire up to just behind the eye.
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Dub your thread and wrap to just behind the eye.
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Pull backing forward, secure it down with a couple wraps of thread. Wrap wire up to just behind the eye, and wrap that down with a few wraps of thread, too. Then find something sharp and picky to pull the dubbing out from under the bottom side of the hook to give it that buggy, “hey I’m a shrimp and I’ve got legs” look. Oh yeah, I forgot that you’ll want to make a few finishing knots, either whip finish or whatever method you use. YouTube has bunch of great examples if you’re uncertain.
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