Peninsula Fly Fishers


Prince Nymph

by Dennis Kellett

June 2002 selection for the PFFBFT


  • thread: brown
  • weight (optional): lead or non-lead wire
  • rib: gold mylar or gold or copper wire for smaller sizes
  • body: peacock herl
  • tails: reddish brown biots
  • beard: reddish brown hackle
  • wings: white biots


Notice that I have chosen a hook that is long. There are many examples of Prince nymphs to be seen with short, fat bodies but I have chosen this style for our endeavour. Some examples sport a soft hackle collar all the way around, but I prefer the beard even though it is a little harder to tie.

  • The tails are more than half shank length, about 2/3 shank. They flare to the sides slightly. Viewed in profile, they should continue the line of the hook shank.
  • The body has a taper: thin at the tails, to thickest in the thorax, to slightly thinner toward the head. With a body material of herl, the tapering must be done with the weighting wire and the thread before the herl is wrapped. The herl body ends at a minimum of one hook's eye length from the eye. One and a half eye's length is better.
  • The ribbing does not stop at the juncture of the thorax and abdomen, as is anatomically correct. It continues over the entire length of the herl. Herl is fragile, so this ribbing is necessary.
  • The beard is about half the length of the shank. It definitely falls short of the point. A sparse beard is preferred.
  • The wings extend to nearly the end of the body. They should not flare up too much. The base upon which they are tied will control the flare. The more the base tapers toward the eye, the more the wings will flare up. Make the base cylindrical, rather than conical, to minimize the flare. The photograph does not show it, but the wings have a modest flare out to the sidesundefinedabout 22° (half of half or a right angle).
  • Note the ample space left for the base of the wings and the head. Don't crowd the eye.

tying instructions

  1. Start with weighting wire if you use it. For the sake of proportion, you might want to place enough wraps to cover about 1/4 of the shank and position them where the thorax would be.
  2. Tie the ribbing material in, wrap down to almost where the abdomen begins. Pull the ribbing out of the way and wrap thread on the shank until the tapered body shape is achieved, ramping up to the diameter of the weighting wire in front and behind. Avoid build-up at the tail end; tying in the tails and the body material will take care of that.
  3. Select a number of herls. Align one end and tie the herls in. The tips are very delicate. You may discover that they need to be pruned back so they don't break off as you twist the herls into a yarn. Make a few trial wraps with the twisted herl. Judge the thickness and add or remove herl from the bunch to achieve the desired diameter on the hook. Pull herl out of the way of tying on the tails.
  4. Tying biots on the narrow hook shank is more difficult than tying them on a wider base, so that is why the herl was tied in before the tails. Tie the far tail on with one or two loose wraps. Adjust the length and hold the tail at the correct flare to the side. Tighten the wraps and add one or two more. Repeat this for the near tail. It is important not to make any wraps over the tails farther back than the underlying thread foundation. Doing so will cause the tails to cock down. The butts of the biots will need to spiral around the hook shank as you bind them down. Let them run where they may. Fighting this will probably ruin the flare you established when you first tied them in.
  5. Twist the herl into a yarn, but not too tightly, and wrap the herl yarn around the shank. Many tiers reinforce the fragile herl with thread when they twist it. Tie off the herl so that the trimmed and tied-down ends finish one hook eye's length from the eye.
  6. Select some feather barbs, tear them from the shaft, and roll them into a bundle. There are a number of ways to tie them in on the underside of the hook; here's one: turn the hook upside down; address the hook with the bundle at a 45° angle; make a loose wrap around the bundle and then a loose wrap around the hook and bundle; slowly tighten while maintaining the bundle directly on top of the upside down shank. When the bundle is secure with a mildly firm wrap or two, check for length. Tugging the bundle in or out should be possible if your wraps aren't too tight. Press a fingernail into the bundle and wiggle to incite the fibers to flare. Cinch the thread down harder until the effect is achieved. Make more wraps to hold the beard firmly. The other purpose of these wraps is to start a foundation for the wing tie-in. Make a short cylindrical thread base for the wings.
  7. As with the biot tails, the wings should be tied in one at a time. Position them for proper length and flare; wrap loosely twice; hold the biot in position while you draw the thread tight; let the butts run where they will.
  8. Shape a nice head; tie off. It is optional to add some brown dubbing to the wraps covering the wing tie-in.
  9. Repeat a dozen or two times.
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