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The Orange Nymph

By Joe Cornwall



Iíve previously shared, on the Fly Fish Ohio Facebook Fan Page, the story of my Crappie Killer pattern.  Itís a fly I tied as a teen that subsequently had some modest regional success and is still a good fly today.  Itís recently been profiled in my column in Country Angliní Outdoor Guide and weíll republish that article here soon.  Iíd like to share another pattern from those by-gone days, a pattern that I tied and fished for a few years and shared with fellow fishermen, but one that I've never tied commercially. This is the first time I've shared this pattern since Jimmy Carter was in office!


The Orange Nymph is a pattern that I developed from a Northwest steelhead pattern.  I have absolutely no memory of where the inspiration for this pattern came from.  I vaguely recall a magazine, or possibly a library book, that showed something similar.  This would have been sometime around 1973 or 1974. At that time I was fascinated by steelhead flies, even though it would be nearly a decade before Iíd travel to a state where steelhead even existed!  The compact and efficient beauty of those Northwest patterns had a strong hold on me and deeply affected the style of my tying at the time.  I remember thinking this fly would work well on the trout stocked in regional ponds early in the season.  Those stocked trout (brookies and rainbows) of the early 1970ís were suckers for a bright spot of color.


Iíve always been drawn to the simple patterns of the 1950ís and 60's.  Not having access to the seal fur specified for the pattern I had read about at the time, I do recall making do with orange yarn.  Yarn bodies, simple lines and minimal materials tend to provide very predictable performance in the water.  The rest of the fly was just something that came together.  I tied this pattern in a range of sizes, mostly large by todayís trout-nymph standards.  Sizes 8, 10 and 12 were the most used.  Bead heads were unheard of at the time.


The Orange Nymph took a few stocked trout in the seasons after Iíd first tied it.  It was especially effective in Peterís Pond, where drifting it deep and using an ultra-slow hand-twist retrieve on a long, level leader and floating line produced rainbows to 14-inches or so.  But the species this fly worked best on came as a surprise. 


There is a large, shallow lake in the town of Bridgewater, where I grew up.  Lake Nippenicket itís called, and itís still productive today.  I used to fish that lake out of a 10í aluminum john boat, rowing like a demon to explore every inch of the 350-odd acres of water.  The Nip, as it is known, is home to a huge population of yellow perch and pickerel.  It also has its share of largemouth bass and bluegill, a few white perch and countless bullheads.  It was the perch that couldnít get enough of the Orange Nymph.


Early in the season Iíd trot out my 8-foot 6-weight fly rod, one Iíd built on a yellow Lamiglas blank and fitted with a Pflueger Medalist reel.  The rod was a one-piece affair that had a beautiful flex and was capable of accurate casts to 60-feet or so.  The 1495 reel balanced well and was fitted with a double-taper fly line.  I recall fitting two of these nymphs, a larger size ahead of a smaller size, on a nine-foot leader with a short dropper at the blood knot for the tippet.   I would pay out the fly line behind the boat and let the wind drift me for what seemed like hundreds of yards, picking up perch all along the way.  When I got into a school of better fish Iíd row back against the wind, hoping to stay with the school.


The Orange Nymph stayed in my fly box until I left for basic training and, eventually, a duty station at Fort Lewis, Washington.  Iíd finally found my way to the land of steelhead, but I never did get a chance to try them there on a fly rod.  Maybe one day Iíll return with a fly rod and Orange Nymph in hand. Until then, I think this fly will find a welcome spot in my carp and smallmouth boxes.  And Iíll be certain to try it on some Erie chrome.  Tie a few of these up for your kit and share your success with us on the Fly Fish Ohio Facebook Fan Page!


The Orange Nymph


Hook:  Mustad 3xl size 8, 10 or 12, in the images I've used a C53S curved-shank nymph hook.  I recall using a straight shank hook at the time and I think the fly may look even a bit better on that iron. 

Weight: 8 turns of .020 lead wire under the thorax

Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet fibers

Ribbing: Oval gold tinsel

Abdomen: Orange yarn, I used "I Love This Yarn" brand (sport weight) in color #200, orange.

Thorax: Black ostrich herl

Wing Case: Golden Pheasant Tippet Fibers

Legs: Golden Pheasant Tippet Fibers


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