By Nick Simonson
While known more as a material for nymphs, the pheasant tail feather fibers have been part of a very successful dry fly in my fly box for years. Whether it’s brown trout on a faraway mountain stream, or local stocked rainbows acclimating to their new environs on some North Dakota lake, this parachute hatcher pattern introduced to me by Einar, my fly fishing mentor, is a perfect snack for surface-feeding fish.
The bugginess and bulk of the fibers comprising the tail pull the offering below the surface, while the dry hackle and dubbing installed parachute style keep the top half above the water. The white antron post serves as a great tracking indicator to help watch the fly make its way with the current. It all comes together in a dynamite emerger package that screams “eat me!” to any hungry fish.
Hook: Curved Hook Size 10-16
Thread: Brown 6/0
Tail: 6-8 Pheasant Tail Fibers
Dubbing: Brown Dry Fly
Wingpost: Antron Yarn
Hackle: Brown Dry Fly
Select a strand of white Antron yarn about one inch in length. Fold it in half, with the loop facing back, and the post facing forward. This fold will create a double-thick post. Tie it down and then prop up the post wing by building a thread base. Trim off the loop and secure the end near the bend of the hook. Build a small thread base around the post by carefully wrapping around the exposed Antron post (2). When finished, advance the thread to the bend of the hook and tie in 6-8 pheasant tail fibers at the bend and set them so they ride down the bend of the hook (2).
Dub in the dry fly dubbing, building a slightly tapered body up to the post (3). When you reach the post, tie in the neck hackle. Using a rotary hackle pliers, build the parachute by wrapping the hackle around the post three times, being careful to avoid wrapping other fibers. Once the hackle is complete, tie the feather off and trim. Dub the remainder of the thorax to about one hook-eye length behind the hook eye. Build a slight thread head, whip finish and trim and the fly is complete (4).
It’s easy to dye pheasant feathers or simply color them with a permanent marker in black or green to get dark or olive colors to mix with other dubbing hues and match whatever mayflies are hatching at any given time of year. With it’s stuck-in-the-surface presentation, this fly creates a helpless insect profile that fish can’t resist on still and moving water. Tie a bunch up and see what’s biting this spring and summer!
Einar Bratteng, of Norway, for whom this Pheasant-based pattern is named, with a nice brown trout. Simonson Photo.