Pheasant Tails & Invasive Carp
Barry Talks Pheasant Tails
As a fly fisherman and fishing guide, I rely on a short list of fly patterns that I am never without. On that list is always a selection of Pheasant Tail nymphs or PT’s as we like to call them. As a teenager I collected and read everything that I could find on fly fishing. I was fascinated with an English author Frank Sawyer who penned Nymphs and The Trout, first published in 1958, that would quickly become classics.
At the time, Sawyer was a river keeper on the Avon in Wiltshire, England. The Avon is a chalk stream famous for tiny mayfly olive hatches and Sawyer would often be the gillie responsible for getting his sports into fish. Obviously a keen observer, Frank quickly figured out, through trout stomach samplings, that the Avon trout ate far more of the tiny olive nymphs they did the duns.
As a skilled fly tier, Sawyer put together a pattern tied simply with pheasant tails and copper wire. It was a pattern that would work wherever trout lived. Sawyers PT nymph has the right profile and color pattern to imitate a multitude of mayfly nymphs. I was still not old enough to drive, but I wrote to Sawyer and told him how well his pheasant tail pattern worked on the limestone streams of Pennsylvania. To my surprise a packaged arrived from England and in it was a selection of Sawyers pheasant tail nymphs along with samples of his killer bug and the grey goose patterns.
Far too many seasons have passed since I opened that package, but to this day the pheasant tail nymph has a permenant place in my fly boxes. Like many patterns there are adaptions that increase the popularity of the pattern. Bead head PT’s, flash back PT’s and soft hackle PT’s. I use them all. Hook sizes range from smaller 18 and 20s, to larger 10 and 12s. When tungsten beads first arrived I immediately adapted them to my PT nymphs to get my flies deeper and it worked. The tungsten PT is now my favorite. I owe Frank Sawyer a great debt for his pheasant tail nymph continues to save my day many more often than I could count.
Pheasant Tail Nymph in our store.
We have the Clean Water Act to thank for cleaning up our lakes, rivers, and streams over the last few decades. This act has made possible clean water for us to drink, to play in – swimming, boating, and the return of quality fishing in many areas including the Great Lakes and our own great lake, Lake Erie.
It's a wonderful recovery story and it affects us all.
But, Roseannadanna (SNL vintage, you have to be a senior citizen to remember this) used to always say, “It's always something,” and now we have things like silver carp to be on the lookout for. The PA Fish & Boat Commission is watching Presque Isle Bay very carefully as these invasive carp pose a significant thread to the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Here's an easy introduction to silver carp, just a couple paragraphs, but be sure to follow the invasivecarp.us link to take a quick look at the invasive carp photos at the bottom. So far, the samplings have not turned up any actual carp. The article explains how a positive test is possible without the actual fish being in the water....interesting.
Roseannadanna was right!
Spring is here and it's time to think about spring fishing. We're busy with fly orders and booking for lessons and guiding. Please remember small business and your local fly shop.