All About Fly Fishing!

Turkey Tail Nymph

Tied by Larry Medina for our first ever fly swap.

turkey tail nymph fly pattern

Larry's Notes and Instructions:


HOOK: TMC 5262 #14
THREAD: Gudebrod 6/0 Black
WEIGHT: 30 gauge Red Enameled Copper Wire
TAIL: Tips from a Mottled Turkey Tail Feather
ABDOMEN: Six fibers from same feather
THORAX: Eight fibers from same feather
LEGS: 10-12 tip fibers from same feather

Not a real material consuming pattern, but if you tie a bunch of them, plan on using a couple of prime length turkey tail feathers that have the proper coloring on the tips. Most of these feathers have tan tips, but in each full fan of feathers, there will be a group of them with darker reddish-brown tips, these are the ones you'll want to use for this fly.

Mount hook in vise, debarb if you elect to. Wrap 20-30 turns of 30 ga. wire around the shank at the thorax position and break off excess wire.

Tie in thread just behind wire and leave a 4" tag end. Wrap thread over wire towards eye of hook and back over wire to anchor it in place. Pull tag end of thread forward so it's out of the way for now. Wrap thread back towards bend of hook.

Cut a section of fibers from the tip of the turkey tail feather and tie in at the bend of the hook, take one wrap of thread under the fibers to raise them upwards, than another two wraps over the fibers to lock them in place.

Cut another section of fibers from the feather, use the longest fibers available for this step. Tie them in by their tips where the tail is tied down and advance the thread to a position in front of the wire thorax.

Wrap the fibers forward to the back of the wire in touching turns... do not twist the fibers. Pull the tag end of the thread towards the rear of the fly when you reach the wire and then continue wrapping fibers forward over the wire.

Take two wraps over the fibers with the thread in front of the wire, leaving the ends of the fibers pointing upwards. Fold the fibers back over the top of the thorax and take two wraps of thread over them with the tag end of the thread. Maintain tension on the tag end and take one wrap over the thorax with the tag end towards the eye. Tie off the tag end with the main thread and snip the excess.

Fold the fibers forward back over the thorax and tie them down with the thread and trim the excess ends of the fibers off. Cover them with thread wraps.

Cut another section of tail fiber tips and tie them in on the far side of the hook just in front of the thorax. Take two tight wraps of thread over the fibers, then increase tension on the thread causing the fibers to "roll under" the hook shank. (This is known as a distribution wrap).

Trim off any excess fiber ends and whip finish head.


This fly is used to represent a darker version of the Pheasant Tail Nymph, and naturally can be modified by adding a rib on the abdomen, herl on the thorax, flash over the thorax and any of the other modifications people have made to the PTN.

The fibers are sort of sparse over the bottom of the thorax, and this intentional. It allows the red of the wire to show through, which has proven beneficial.

There are more tails and legs than anatomically correct for a mayfly... don't be alarmed by this... the fish don't seem to mind and after a few fish, it'll be right wher eit should be... =)

A couple of items that can add to the durability of this fly:

1) After tying in the section of barbs used to form the body, apply a thin coat of head cement to the shank and a drop on the wire. As you wrap the fibers forward, they will adhere to the head cement but they will also darken.

2) If you only have shorter fibered feathers, you can tie it by using two bunches of fibers for the body. Wrap the first bunch forward as far as the midpoint of the thorax, then tie in the second bunch and wrap it forward to the front of the wire. Tie it down and use it to form the thorax overwraps. This will allow you to double the thickness of the fibers and if you have used the head cement, the upper layer of wraps will generally retain their original color.