How to Tie The Isonychia Nymph

Nymphs? In the summer?  There are days where dries just aren’t efficient enough no matter how hard you fish them.  Tying on one of these sub-surface meaty morsels will increase your chances of hooking up when dry fly fishing goes, well, dry.  They are an easy tie and are equally as effective.

I begin by pinching the barb in the vise which makes sliding on the bead a little easier.  Once that’s in place, I take between 10 and 12 turns of wire and either glue them to the shank or secure them by thread wraps.  I find on this pattern, a small drop of super glue on the shank directly behind the bead helps keep everything in place without building up the bulk of thread wraps.

I’ll then begin my thread right behind the lead wire.  After snipping off the tag, build a taper from the hook shank up to the wire ensuring a smooth transition.



Once there’s a taper, I’ll take my wire and tie it in between the hook bend and the end of the thread taper.  Leave the thread hanging off the back just at the bend of the hook.

Strip five or six pheasant tail fibers from the stem and tie them in for the tail.  The length should be approximately one hook-gap long.  Since we’ll be using the pheasant tail to wrap around the body, I take two wraps with my thread ahead of the bulk of the fibers and leave the thread hanging there.


Begin wrapping the pheasant tail using the thread to keep all of the fibers together.  Wrap them as far up the hook shank as possible and then capture them with a couple tight turns of thread.  Snip off of the excess.

The wire that was previously tied in is counter-wrapped around the tail section making even, spiral wraps forward.  Once you get to where the pheasant tail ends, capture the wire with a few tight wraps and then helicopter the excess for a clean break.


Take about a dozen more pheasant tail fibers and trim off the curly ends after stripping them from the stem.  These will be tied in by the stiff butt ends and eventually folded over to form the wing casing.  Try to make the fibers lay flat while tying them on to the hook.  Test the length by folding them over to the bead.  As you can see in the photo, I like my sections of the fly to be broken into thirds (tail, thorax, and abdomen).

Once you’re satisfied with the beginning of the thorax, dub a medium-sized dubbing noodle with the hare’s ear blend of your choice.  The thorax should be larger and bulbous-shaped. End with your thread directly behind the bead, once again.


Fold over the pheasant tail and lay two loose wraps over it before viewing the fly from above. A rotary vise comes in handy for this type of thing.  Once the wing case is in line between the hook eye and the tail, make a couple tighter wraps to bind down the pheasant and then make two wraps in front of it but behind the bead.  Snip off the excess as close as possible and then make a 4 or 5 turn whip-finish.  Trim off your thread.


Using a dubbing brush or your tool of choice, pick out some of the thorax dubbing to create buggy-type legs.  While the fly looks good, I like to add some thick UV resin to the wing case for some added durability and visual appearance.


The finished product is an easy-to-tie fly that gets to the bottom quickly and fishes very well anywhere Iso’s are present.


Isonychia Nymph

Hook: Orvis 1524 Size 12

Thread: UTC 70, Dark Brown

Bead: 7/64″ Gold or Black

Lead Wire: Non-toxic .20″

Tail: Dark Brown Pheasant Tail

Wire: Medium Copper

Abdomen: Chocolate Brown Hares Ear Blend

Wing Case: Pheasant Tail

UV Resin: Thick



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