Flies for the Spring 2021 Tying Contest

Number 1. The Alexandra Wet Fly

Image source: https://www.bigyflyco.com/alexandra-detail.htm


  • Hook: Wet fly, #8-12
  • Thread: Black
  • Tail: Red goose or duck feather
  • Rib: Silver wire or oval tinsel
  • Body: Silver mylar tinsel
  • Hackle: Black hen or cock
  • Wing: Peacock sword fibers
  • Topping: This slips of red goose or duck

Notes: there are several videos of this fly online. Check out Davie McPhail’s or Fabien Moulin for some great examples. I also have a video at Savage Flies, but my examples are probably not the best ones to go by. In fact, some of my ties would not score very well by the official IFF grading we are trying to go by!

Number 2. Grizzly King Wet Fly

Source: https://donbastianwetflies.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/grizzly-king.jpg


  • Hook: Wet fly #8-14
  • Thread: Black
  • Tail: Red duck or goose slips
  • Rib: Silver or gold tinsel
  • Body: Green floss
  • Throat: Grizzly hackle
  • Wing: Grizzly hackle tips (or mallard flank)

There are several good videos of this one being tied online. Check out Eric Austin’s (Channel: Traditional Flies and Dries) or Peter Charles (Hooked for Life Fly Fishing).

Number 3. Watson’s Fancy Wet Fly

Image source: Savage Flies


  • Hook: #10-16 wet fly, standard or 1x long
  • Thread: Black
  • Tail: Golden pheasant tippets
  • Rib: Gold flat tinsel
  • Body: Red and black floss (not the fuzzy variant)
  • Throat: Black hackle fibers (tied as a beard or wound hackle pushed down, your choice)
  • Wing: Duck slips, dyed black

Note, there aren’t many videos of this one being tied other than the one I did here on Savage Flies. Also note, this exact fly in the image above might lose a couple of points for the head being kind of big, the throat hackle is just a bit too long and there is a small lump between the red and black floss. I suppose that depends on the judge, but if I was judging this one, that is what I would point out.

Number 4. American Pheasant Tail Nymph

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRMWxob305o


  • Hook: Nymph, #14-18
  • Weight: 0.015 or 0.020 diameter
  • Thread: Brown
  • Tail: Pheasant tail fibers
  • Rib: Copper wire
  • Body: Pheasant tail fibers
  • Thorax: Peacock herl
  • Wingcase: Pheasant tail fibers
  • Legs: Pheasant tail fibers

Notes, there are literally dozens of videos of this pattern online and hundreds (or thousands) of pictures. Please don’t use my own example on Savage Flies (my tail was too long), but Tim Flagler of Tightline Video has a great example in the image above. His proportions look to be spot on.

Also note, this is not Sawyer’s original pheasant tail, we are tying the modern American version.

Number 5. Clouser Swimming Nymph

Image source: Savage Flies


  • Hook: #6-10 curved or straight
  • Thread: Color to match body
  • Weight: 0.020 wire
  • Tail: Rabbit or marabou with flash
  • Body: Rabbit dubbing
  • Wingcase: Peacock herl
  • Hackle: Brown hen

Note, there are a few videos of this pattern being tied online. Check out Mad River Outfitters, InTheRiffle and my own video here. (I think mine turned out okay.)

Number 6. Copper John

Image source: https://us.seriousfishing.com/GLFLY090221048.html


  • Hook: #10-18 2x long nymph
  • Bead: Gold tungsten (or brass)
  • Weight: Wire, sized to hook
  • Thread: Black
  • Tail: Brown goose biots
  • Abdomen: UTC Ultra Wire
  • Flash: Pearl Flashabou
  • Wing case: Thin skin
  • Thorax: Peacock herl
  • Legs: Brown hen or partridge
  • Coating: Epoxy or UV resin

There are tons of reference videos of this one online. Check out InTheRiffle, Trident Fly Fishing or the Orvis Channel to see Tom Rosenbauer tie it.

Number 7. Tellico Nymph

Image source: Savage Flies


  • Hook: Nymph #10-16
  • Thread: Black
  • Weight: 0.015 or 0.020 diameter
  • Tail: Golden pheasant tippets, or guinea or teal (optional)
  • Rib: Peacock herl
  • Body: Yellow chenille (or wool)
  • Hackle: Brown hen, tied as a throat

As the only Smoky Mountain pattern on the list, I hope a few of you will choose to tie this one. There are a few videos of this one, and several pictures. Note, several versions use a brown hackle for the tail, and a few leave the tail out altogether. The exact recipe for the original is a bit unclear in this area so feel free to tie the tail however you prefer.

Check out InTheRiffle, Savage Flies, or Holsinger’s Fly Shop for good examples of this being tied. Note, Shawn Holsinger uses yellow floss for the body which is not true to the original so please stick with the yellow chenille or wool if you choose this one.