Still Going Strong,

The BiColour Nymph 10 Years On.

Not much good has come from the decline of British industry. One of the great benefits is that many of the rivers which were once treated as sewers have recovered. Yorkshire’s River Calder is one. The post industrial landscape isn’t the most picturesque place to fish but it was local and cheap. (Fishing rights are mostly privately owned in the UK so you have to pay to fish).

Trout and grayling are now prolific where, not so long ago, there were none. Better yet I could go and catch them for just a few pounds a year. I spent a lot of time on that river. Caught some nice fish and generally had a great time of it.

Except, that nymphs just didn’t seem to work properly. I picked up the odd fish on them, but nothing like I would usually associate with fishing nymphs. Turning stones I found many nymphs of all the species I expected. What was different about these nymphs was the dorsal side. Most nymphs seem to have buff to pale yellow under sides. These almost all had bright yellow under sides.

This may have been a result of the past pollution of the river, or just a regional variation. I’m not enough of a naturalist to know. I can see when something is different, and know enough to look for this as a solution.

Often I have described imitative fly fishing as seeing an insect, tying something that looks like it, and fishing it so it behaves like the natural. Knowing the Latin name of the insect adds nothing to your ability to do this.

What I needed was a nymph that mimicked this colour differential. Knowledge can and does often act as blinkers. I know this from another interest of mine; performing close up magic. It is often easier to fool another magician than it is to fool a lay person. In the same way I grabbed at the first solution that came to my fly tiers brain. Weave the fly.

The bed of the Calder is littered as much with dressed stone as natural rock. My supply of woven nymphs soon decorated these rocks. Not to mention the river is quite overgrown. A goodly number ended up in inaccessible branches. Woven nymphs are time consuming to tie. Soon I was thinking twice before casting into tight corners.

A re think became necessary. How can I incorporate the dorsal ventral colour split into a fly that is simple to tie? That puzzled me for 3 or four years. I played about with different materials at odd times but the answer evaded me. In the mean time I got plenty of practice tying woven flies.

One day I was playing around with a quick way I had found to tie Czech nymphs, which involved tying in the shell back forward of the eye, and pulling it back over the fly to be held in place with the ribbing wire.

That’s when it hit me. I could use this method to tie nymphs for the Calder. Ten minutes later the first BiColour Nymph was ready to fish.

The BiColour nymph is not so much a single pattern as a way of tying pheasant tail nymphs with a colour differential along the body. Here is the original.

This is tied on a size 12 standard wet fly hook. You should tie them on whatever hook gives you the right size nymph for where you fish.

Thread:     Any fine thread. Colour to match body.

Rib:              Copper wire in any colour you like. Size to suit the hook you are using.

Body:         Colour extracted and dyed pheasant tail, in this example sunburst

Back:         Natural or dark dyed pheasant tail





Select your hook and place it in the vice. Start the thread one eye width back from the eye and run down the hook shank in touching turns. As you run down the hook shank catch in the ribbing wire under the hook shank. The tag end of the wire should extend toward the eye to the point you started your thread.

ead one eye width back from the eye and run down the hook shank in touching turns. As you run down the hook shank catch in the ribbing wire under the hook shank. The tag end of the wire should extend toward the eye to the point you started your thread.


As you approach the bend of the hook catch in a bunch of the lighter colour pheasant tail fibres by their tips.


Take the thread forward to the point you want the thorax to start somewhere in between half and two thirds of the way back to the eye.

Now comes the difficult bit. Take a good bunch of natural or dark pheasant tail. You need to carefully measure this. Hold the bunch above the hook shank with the tips forward of the eye. The distance the tips extend forward of the eye is the length of the tails in the finished fly. Once you are happy with the length of the back / tails grip the bunch with your thumb nail level with the turn of thread nearest the bend.


Move your hand towards the eye (taking the bunch of pheasant tail fibres with you) until your thumb nail touches the back of the eye.


Maintaining the grip tie the pheasant tail in place. (I know the thread is hanging further back. If you need to roll your finger and thumb back a little so you can form the pinch and loop.)


Secure the pheasant tail with a few wraps.

Fold the rear pointing fibres forward and tie down. Do not tie down all the way to the eye.




Trim out the pheasant tail butts at an angle. This makes the thorax taper toward the eye.


Smooth the thorax out with thread wraps finishing behind the eye.

Wind the body all the way along the hook shank. Tie down behind the eye.

Fold the back over the top of the fly. Roll your finger on top a little to ensure the bunch spreads out over the back of the fly. Secure it by winding the rib over it.


Trim out the pheasant tail fibres forming the body. Whip finish and remove the thread. If you feel the need you can add a drop of head cement to the whip finish.


Continue winding the rib forward to the back of the thorax.



Secure the wire behind the thorax by making a half hitch in the wire.


Worry off the wire (wiggle the wire until it breaks). Again if you feel the need secure this with a drop of CA glue. I don’t find I need it, but you may.


The tail might look a little too heavy to your eye. If it does, well you surely can find a pair of scissors! Just trim some of the fibres off level with the end of the body.


You will have realised that this is un weighted and does not have any legs. You can add weight in the form of wire or a bead if you like. Legs may also be added, but I subscribe to Frank Sawyer’s opinion that they are not an important feature on a drifting nymph.

Should you want to add weight and or legs you will find out how to here.

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