Fly of the Month – Guide’s Choice Pheasant Tail

Fly of the Month by J. Stockard Pro Tyer: Justin Aldrich, Haversham Co. GA, find Justin on Instagram and YouTube.

The Guides Choice series of Fly has a reputation that can easily compete with any of the old tried and true patterns. (Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, and of course classic Spyder Wets for examples.)

It’s a pattern that has been done to death, understandably, and can be made to tie as easy or difficult as you choose without sacrificing production on the water if you need a quicker tie.
On a side note, it’s often I tie and fish these without a dubbed Thorax or a Flashback Wingcase. If I do this, I always use a piece of tiny flash to rib the body and wire to secure the flash. But it’s just as effective and saves massive amounts of time on the vise.

Dead drifted, Dry Dropped, Swung, Swam, Jigged, twitched, all ways to fish the Guide’s Choice series of Fly all because of the materials used.

It’s combined ingredients spell disaster for Trout. Here is my version tied with Pheasant Tail as the body instead of Hares Ear dubbing.

The Guides Choice Pheasant Tail:

-Materials-
•Hook: Partridge SUJ Jig hook or Kona BJH Jig Hook Barbless
•Bead: Tungsten Slotted.
•Thread: Semperfli Classic Waxed thread, 8/0 or Semperfli Nano Silk Thread 12/0.
•Hotspot: Red thread.
•Hackle: Gray Partridge with heavy markings.
•Thorax: Hareline Ice Dub, Peacock.
•Flashback Wingcase: Lateral Scale Flashabou tinsel.
•Body/Abdomen: Pheasant Tail fibers.
•Tail: Gray Partridge feather fibers.
•Rib: UTC Small Silver wire.

-Tying Recipe-

Hackle Prep.
**First, locating and preparing a hackle feather. It’s not hard, just get the bird you wanna tie with, a Partridge, Grouse, or Hen, and simply go through it looking for an appropriate size and color. Once you think you’ve found one, gently stroke the fibers back making them stand vertical to the stem and put them up to the bead on the hook. If the fibers are too long or short for your liking go back and try again. Once you find one suitable, pluck it off the bird and begin to strip the fluffy down fibers off its butt section. Set it aside for later.

Now seat an appropriate sized bead to the size hook you choose to tie with. In terms of metal, Tungsten is king. But feel free to brass it up.

Once the hook and bead are in the vise, attach the thread color of your choice behind the bead. I always tend to use whatever thread color I’ll use for the hotspot as my working thread.

Next, measure the tail fibers out, a shank length is always a fair length and then secure down. Now while keeping the fibers on top of the shank, continue to secure down the fibers to just before the bend of the hook.

Take the wire rib and tie it in on your side of the shank, just in front of the tail. I find tying it there helps with counter ribbing. Continue to tie and secure in the rib all the way to the bead.

Align the tips of a few Pheasant fibers and strip from the stem. Cut a millimeter or so of the brittle tips off. Tie them in on your side of the shank just behind the bead. Make a couple lose wraps down the shank and then slide the Pheasant tips into place behind the bead. No cutting excess necessary. Secure down the fibers on your side of the shank to just in front of the tail fibers. This will aid in tying a tapered underbody.

After you’ve built up a tiny taper with the thread, bring up the Pheasant Tail fibers wrapping away from you in touching turns and tie the butt ends down about 2mm behind the bead. (Just keeping space for the Thorax.) Don’t worry too much about the Thorax area, you can dub over the Pheasant Tail if it was brought up too far.

Afterwards, counter wrap the wire rib in the opposite direction you wrapped the Pheasant Tail (towards you). Secure down the wire behind the bead and worry or cut off the excess wire.
Counter ribbing does two things, first and most importantly it better secures in the Pheasant Tail fibers. Like two opposing directions creating a lock. The second thing counter wrapping does is makes the rib material itself stand out a bit more prominent instead of burying itself in the body material.

Number 2, FINAL DRAFT.

Next take a piece of your favorite flashy material, the bigger sized Lateral Scale I’ve found to be the absolute best in catching and reflecting light. Catch it in on top of the shank behind the bead. Tie it in to about 3mm or 4mm behind the bead… depending on the size of the pattern your tying, this measurement will differ greatly. If you don’t have a rotary vise, pop the fly out and make sure the flash material is centered directly on top. You know what to do if you have a rotary function so…. use it. Lol

After the flashback wingcase is secured in, go ahead and dub a tight dub noodle and create your thorax with it. Plump is good when shaping the Thorax, it makes the Flashback pop a bit more.

When you’ve dubbed the Thorax to just behind the bead, it’s time to find your prepped hackle feather. Check by your feet first if you can’t immediately find it, next try the original place you set it… never fails! A pair of hackle pliers come in handy now. Use the pliers and gently grasp the tip section of the hackle feather. Gently, okay actually everything we do from here with this hackle feather, especially if it’s Partridge will be done in a “gentle” manner. So, stroke back the fibers towards the butt section of the feather. This will expose the tip section. Remove the hackle pliers and trim the hackle tip which will leave you with a triangle shaped tip section.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere! Take that tip section and tie it tightly in just behind the bead. Make sure that the concave side is pointed down. That just helps situate the hackle better for wrapping. Next, GENTLY attach the hackle pliers onto the butt section of the stem. Before wrapping, try stroking back the fibers towards the tail of the fly and wrap the hackle. If there are some stubborn fibers, just stroke them back while wrapping. If that doesn’t help, you’ll be able to fix it after you tie down the hackle.

Once you’ve wrapped the hackle, secure it in by tying down the butt section with a few tight thread wraps and locking turns. Snip off the stem as close as possible. Any errant fibers that were out of line you can now just fold back easily and make a couple jamming thread turns to keep them in place.

All you have left to do is whip finish a hotspot in. Make a 3-4 turn whip finish or a couple 3 turn whips and snip off thread close.

A dab of thin cement on the hotspot and your home free!

I’ve already quickly mentioned ways to fish these, and I wasn’t in the least exaggerating one bit on their effectiveness and versatility to fish. One great way to fish these is actually swimming/swinging these in the Winter.

Pick a brighter Winter day, full sun, and fish these like you would a minnow, the slower the better. 9 out of 10 takes will be on the rise during a swing, or during a fall when swimming them. I believe that’s what Trout mistake these as when fished like that, a tiny minnow. Now just hang on!

Thanks for stopping by. Give these a go if you haven’t already.

3 thoughts on “Fly of the Month – Guide’s Choice Pheasant Tail

    1. Paul Beel

      Justin did not provide one, because you can use many different sizes for this fly.
      The fly in the photo is a size #14. But you could use a 10, 12, 16, etc.

      We hope this helps.

      Thank you.

      Reply

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