What are you doing in the "Off Season"
This time of year is also a great time to start tying flies or if you do not, maybe start giving it some serious thought. If you are like several of us here at MS, you not only fish, you also do a bit of hunting. Personally, I enjoy a few weekends each year out in the prairies of South Dakota pursuing the clever Ringnecks that have been in wonderful abundance over the past decade. This passion is mostly due to my inherent love of the outdoors and the joy of upland hunting that started in my youth, though the camaraderie with buddies, enjoying great table fair and the collection of an endless supply of tying materials is not without mention.
If you are a Steelheader new to tying, you will will soon discover that nymphs are a mainstay in most serious Steelheader's fly box. I have several favorites that fill my nymph box. The more popular are variations of the Pheasant tail nymph. I usually have this fly in a few sizes, colors and styles though most are simply the standard pattern.
There are three reasons why this pattern continues to be a mainstay in my fly box after 25 years. First, the fly catches fish, period! Steelhead, browns, brookie, coho and even pinks with take this scrumptious fly. For steelies I usually start bringing them out once the water warms and clears up a bit. Typically this is a later season fly for me. The second reason is that it is a simply fly to tie. I am not one to sit and tie flies because I love to tie, I tie for my box. The pheasant tail nymph is a quick tie and can be mastered with little frustration as long as you have good materials. This leads me to my third reason - Materials. Materials for the Pheasant tail nymph are composed of about 80% Rooster Pheasant tail. As a Pheasant hunter, you should be able to get more than enough tails for you and all of your buddies. If you shooting is off, I bet you can get tails from one of your hunting buddies. I usually take the whole tail sections home with me. Once home I can sort through the bunch and discard any that may be damaged or not to my liking. I find the longer the barbs on the tail, the better. You can find a recipe for tying the pheasant tail nymph on our website.
The picture above was taken this past Saturday after a snow storm blew through my favorite area west of Huron, SD. You can still see the residual wind still moving snow. Needless to say this did not hamper the hunting and we have pheasant tails for another season of fly tying.