50 Pheasant Flies: The Lightning Bug

By Nick Simonson

Are you looking to electrify the fish in your waters?  Well the second-best way, after an electroshock survey (and certainly the best legal way for an angler), is the Lightning Bug.  While the name might make you think of fireflies dancing in the air on a humid summer evening, this little gem is a heavy attractor nymph with sparkle that draws fish in for a shocking reaction strike.  Though mostly synthetic, the pheasant tail fibers in the pattern provide that oh-so-enticing buggy look to go along with the exciting thorax, abdomen and bead head.  Hey, sometimes you just have to have some fun and tie a flashy fly. Besides, there’s pheasant in it, so it still counts toward your 50 Pheasant Flies Merit Badge!

Hook: Curved, Size 12-18
Thread: 6/0 Tan
Head: Copper Bead
Tail: 6 PT Fibers
Abdomen: 1 Strand Orange Tinsel
Rib: Medium Copper Ultrawire
Thorax: Green Ice Dub
Legs: 3 PT Fibers per Side


Slide a bead on your hook and put it in the vise; start your thread and secure six PT fibers down the bend, forming a short tail which begins at the middle of the hook’s bend (1).  At the tail’s tie-in point secure a piece of copper wire and a strand of orange tinsel on the hook shank and let them hang off the back of the hook and advance your thread 3/4 of the way up toward the bead (2). Wrap the tinsel up to the thread and tie it off with a couple of thread wraps and trim the excess; then counter-wrap the copper wire up to the thread and do the same (3).

At that point, wax your thread and dub your ice dub material to it (4).  Create a dubbing thorax up to the bead by wrapping your dubbed thread around the hook (5).  At that point, tie in the PT fiber legs, three on each side, just behind the bead, trimming the excess and securing them to the hook shank (6).  Dub a little more ice dub on your thread and wrap it behind the bead to cover the PT fiber ends and complete the thorax; whip finish and cement and your lightning bug is complete (7)!

Originally designed for fishing trout in west coast tailwaters, the Lightning Bug has become a staple in fly boxes throughout the Rockies in the U.S. and Canada and is now popular throughout the world.  It’s a fun pattern that is relatively easy to tie and gets down to fish to trigger strikes.  Make sure to tie a few up in various tinsel and dubbing colors.  I also like it in pink tinsel with a shrimp dubbing abdomen, or silver with a black abdomen.  Tie up a bunch in all sorts of combinations for the fish in your waters so no matter what they want, you’ll be ready for them!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s