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Standard nymph hook such as Tiemco 3761BL; Daiichi 1560; or Mustad 3906B #12-20

Thread Brown 6/0 or 8/0
Tail PT center tail feather fibers
Body PT center tail feather fibers
Rib Fine copper wire
Wing case PT center tail feather fibers
Weight (optional) lead or substitute
Hackle Brown soft hackle such as hen
Head Brown thread

Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail

Here is an interesting variation on the old standby, the Pheasant Tail Nymph. There can be no question that the “PT,” as that marvelous bug is called, is a fish-catcher… assuming it is fished properly.  

I can attest to that based on experience as recent as July 18th, when a #14 plain (i.e., no bead)  PT accounted for a nice large Rainbow on the Upper Sacramento. Adding the soft hackle does not necessarily “improve” on the PT pattern; rather, it adds a different dimension to it by creating the illusion of an emerging mayfly. What can be better than swinging a soft hackle fly that looks like a highly successful fly box standard like the PT? It works well with short-line techniques also.


  1. Place hook in vise and smash barb. Add a few turns of lead at thorax area, if desired. Cover hook shank with thread.

  2. At the point just above the back end of the barb, attach 4 or 5 PT center tail feather fibers for a tail (length approximately equal to hook shank); don’t trim the butts yet..

  3. At the same point, attach a piece of fine copper wire for the ribbing.

  4. Wrap the remaining PT fibers forward to cover the back 2/3 of the shank, forming the abdomen. Wrap the copper wire forward in evenly spaced wraps.

  5. At the forward end of the abdomen, tie in 5 or 6 PT fibers by their tips, with the butts facing to the rear. These will ultimately form the wing case.

  6. At the same point, tie in two or three peacock herls by their tips, and twist them together with your hackle pliers. Be gentle…they tend to break otherwise.

  7. Wrap the herl as a thorax and tie off, leaving room at the front to tie in the wing case, and wrap the soft hackle.

  8. Bring the PT fibers over the top of the herl, and tie them off behind the eye, leaving sufficient room for the soft hackle.

  9. Tie in and sparsely wrap the soft hackle, “wet fly” style. Tie it off, form a nice smooth, small thread head, and whip finish. Now, go fish it, and…..

Enjoy, and see ya on the creek...!!!

Copyright 2003 by Granite Bay Flycasters unless otherwise noted.