The pheasant tail nymph is a classic nymph pattern. Tied with its traditional materials of natural pheasant tail fibers and peacock herl it is a fish catching wonder. The color scheme of the natural materials does an excellent job imitating many mayfly nymphs. A pheasant tail nymph is a killer nymph pattern for panfish. You may ask the question “If this pattern works so well why mess with it?”Read More
This fly has proven to be highly effective for me over the past few seasons. I first learned about this fly pattern in a DVD entitled "Deep South Fly Fishing". In the DVD the fly went by a different name (Accardo), but it was essentially the same as the fly I know as the Ligon Bream Killer. In the book Flies for Panfish and Bass by Dick Stewart the author credits Jim Stewart for developing the fly. It is a standard spider style fly tied with chenille rather than foam, so it sinks slowly instead of floating. Also, the fly sports a wing of squirrel tail. Whether this squirrel hair wing adds significantly to the effectiveness of the pattern is up for debate. I like the addition of the wing; it catches fish like crazy, so I keep tying them with wings. I have used the Bream Killer to the point where the squirrel hair was totally chewed off and did not feel that it's fish catching abilities were diminished in any way. The original pattern calls for the squirrel tail wing to be tied in behind the eye, sweeping over the back of the entire body. During a late night, bourbon assisted, tying session I mixed up the sequence and tied the wing in at the thorax. I liked the way it looked and have been tying them that way ever since. You can find the pattern recipe here.
I lump this fly pattern in the same category as Wilson's Bully Spider, another great sinking spider style fly. The Bully Spider is another fly that should be in every panfish fly fisherman's box. I'll cover that one in a future post.
Back to the Bream Killer...I tie this fly unweighted, lightly weighted (.015 lead wire) and heavily weighted (.025 lead wire) and fish them according to conditions or the preference of the fish. As far as colors go, I tie them in the full spectrum. Drab to bright to fluorescent, they all work. My go to version is probably a basic olive/brown with white legs and a natural red squirrel tail wing. Feel free to experiment with flies like this. I have changed both body and wing material, but none fish any better than the original.
This a great fly to use in a popper/dropper rig. The legs on the fly wiggle enticingly with each twitch of the popper. It is a deadly combination. It is also a great pattern to use when fish are on their beds. The slow sinking action as it gently settles to the bottom is irresistible to panfish of all types.