An All Season Fly

Until April 30, 2005, I used to think of the pheasant tail as a late summer and fall fly. I would tie them as a small gold bead head, flashback in 16 and 18 sizes. Or as a rootbeer glass bead head in sizes 16 though 20. In sizes 20 and 22, you can use reddish brown tying thread for a brown head.

But all that changed on a guided trip April 30, 2005. I purchased flies for the trip that included size 12 and 14 black pheasant tails. The lead guide Janice O’Shea, owner of, said that the bigger black pheasant tails were good early may fly imitations.

We were on the N. Fork Ranch located on the N. Fork of the South Platte river. The ranch is situated within 30 minutes of Bailey, Colorado or about 1.5 hours from the western edge of metro Denver. The North Fork gets a large portion of its water from the Roberts Portal Tunnel which diverts water out of Dillon Reservoir. As a result the river is open to fishing all year. Current flow is 55 CFS as of 2/2/06. This is about the same flow as April 2005.The fish were feeding actively. Starting off with a 14 black pheasant tail, I hooked and lost a 3 or 4 pound fish.

In May and June on my beloved Bear Creek, I hooked a 15 inch and an 18 inch rainbow on a 14 black pheasant tail. This convinced me to try more of the #14 black and brown pheasant tail nymphs in 2006. I tie my pheasant tails on a Dai-Riki std nymph heavy wire hook in the early season. For the small sizes, I mostly use a dry fly light wire hook. Give the black pheasant tail nymphs a try this season. You may catch your trophy fish on one.

Tight Lines and Good Fishing,
Marshall, Editor