Monday, 28 April 2014

A heavier pheasant tail nymph.

Normal coloured pheasant tail feather
If you tie a PTN as Sawyer intended, you will find the amount of weight you can build in to the fly is limited. Only a certain amount of turns of copper wire can be used before the fly becomes bulky and out of proportion. OK, so I could add a tungsten bead but then that's a different fly.

A standard PTN tied with brown copper wire
How do you make a Sawyer's PTN heavier without changing the fundamentals of the fly? Use a heavier wire of course.

Huh? I hear you ask.

Tungsten wire
Tungsten wire, available in 0.089mm diameter, this is the same thickness as the thinnest available copper wires.

Melantistic pheasant tail feather
I've tied up some PTN using a melanistic pheasant tail feather. This creates a darker browner fly rather than the usual russet-brown of a normal feather. Tungsten wire is a dark grey colour so blends in discretely. Tied up as I would using copper wire, the tungsten wire PTN is significantly heavier than the standard dressing. I don't have a set of micro scales, but there is a noticeable difference in the hand

Melanistic pheasant tail feather with tungsten wire
Melanistic pheasant tail feather tied with brown copper wire
I would fish this version in much faster and/or deeper areas of river, perhaps it would make a good stalking bug if you're a stillwater type. I guess given the colour of the wire you could use it on any coloured PTN as it should be discreet enough. The only downside....the cost, it's not cheap, but then you don't need a lot of it.


  1. Very sensible idea and great flies. How malleable is your tungsten wire? The only spool I have come across wouldn't easily bend around a hook (came from the now defunct Roots Fly Tying).
    Is the size you give for your tungsten wire correct? Copper wire is available to much smaller sizes, I have some from Jan Siman with a diameter of 0.09 mm Almost 1/10th the size of your tungsten at 0.89.

    1. Crackaig, you're right it is a mistake, should have read 0.089mm. The wire is springy but stays in place when bent.