Pheasant feathers

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Over the last few years posting topics for the J. Stockard Blog, I’ve done a number of posts entitled: Simple Flies.  Simple Flies are flies that are easy to tie and effective on the water. Recently when I scored some primo pheasant tail clumps from an Ebay seller, it struck me that the “simple fly” logic might also apply to some fly tying materials.  But instead of simplicity the driving adjective should be Versatile. Pheasant, in particular the feathers of the Common or Ring Neck Pheasant, couldn’t be more versatile—"able to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities” for the fly tyer.  

Pheasant Bird

History of Pheasant Feathers as Fly Tying Material

Common pheasants were introduced in North America in 1773, and have become well established throughout much of the Rocky Mountain states, the Midwest, the Plains states, as well as Canada and Mexico.  The bird is widely targeted by upland game hunters, propagated by game managers and there’s no shortage of full skins as well as tails on the fly tying market.  A couple of male tail feathers might cost about $5 while full tail clumps and full skins might run as high as $15. Tail feathers also come dyed in a variety of colors.  Of course when one thinks about using pheasant as a fly tying material, the Pheasant Tail Nymph comes immediately to  mind. This extraordinarily successful fly leverages the olive/brown iridescence of the tail fibers to craft extremely life-like nymph bodies.  Indeed it is the highly contrasted, multi-colored iridescent feathers that can be found on the entire pheasant skin that makes this material so versatile. Having quality pheasant tails and full skins in your fly tying stash opens up all manner of opportunity and for adaption using this versatile material.

Pheasant skin

Examples of Fly Patterns Using Pheasant

What follows is a gallery of patterns that incorporate pheasant tail fibers and pheasant feathers in their construction.  By no means complete, I leave it to the reader to adapt pheasant to their imagination.

Pheasant tail body
PT Klink:  Pheasant tail body. tail, thorax and wing post.
Pheasant Clouser: Iridescent green rump for lower wing, Iridescent back feather for lower fin, pheasant tail for upper wing.
PT Perdigon: Pheasant tail tail, rump feathers twisted and wrapped for body and thorax
Pheasant Enhanced Muddler: Pheasant soft hackle added as pectoral fins
PT Humpy: Pheasant tail over body and tail. Pheasant tail (hen) wing.
PT Adams: Pheasant tail tail, Pheasant tail (hen) body
PT Wulff: Pheasant tail wing, tail and body
Pheasant tail body
PT Ant: Pheasant tail body.
PT Parachute: Tail, body and wing: Pheasant tail.
PT Caddis or small Stonefly: Tail, body and wing: Pheasant tail.
Carey Special: PT body and pheasant rump
PT Caddis Pupa: Pheasant rump twisted body. Pheasant black flank clipped.
PT Hare’s Ear Nymph: Pheasant tail thorax (hen) and tail. Pheasant soft-hackle legs.  Indeed all the soft-hackles on the pheasant are suitable for legging nymph patterns.

Check out these pheasant materials!

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