Monday, March 28, 2011

The Pheasant Tail Anchor

I thought I would share the details on this incredibly effective pattern.  I have mentioned it a few times on this site but have never really given a pattern recipe for it.  I am constantly amazed how well this disproportionate fly performs.  The tungsten bead on the head of this fly is three or four times the size it should be.

I tie it in two basic versions, one with a gold bead and one with a black bead and small orange hot spot.

Pheasant Tail Anchor - Gold Bead

Pheasant Tail Anchor - Black Bead

I should mention that I mainly fish this fly as part of a Polish or Czech nymph rig.  With my normal three fly set up, this pattern would be tied in the middle or anchor position.  It is the heaviest of the three flies and helps bring all of the patterns down to where the fish are.

A few quick notes on tying this pattern:
  1. A slotted bead is a must!  It is the only way you will get a bead this size on a #12 hook.  You must be careful on how you position this bead on the hook.  Slide it up and away from the hook point so you don't impede the hook gap and possible reduce the hooking ability of the fly.  A drop of super glue in the slot will hold in place if you need to.
  2. Tie the body as slim as possible, 6-8 fibers of pheasant tail is all you need.  I ensure I have a smooth under body which will often take a quite a few wraps of thread to close the gap between the hook shank and the lead under body in the thorax area.  Don't allow too much thread to build up, you want a slim tapered under body on which to wrap the pheasant tail.  I wrap the pheasant tail straight on without twisting with helps keeps that slim profile.
  3. Feel free to experiment with the legs.  The pattern fishes well as described here but may be even more effective with a few turns of rust brown CDC at the collar.  I tie the pattern both ways.  Feel free to omit the legs all together.  They are usually the first things chewed off the pattern after a few fish and the fly continues to work!
Pheasant Tail Anchor Recipe:
Hook:  Size 12 Dai-Riki 730  (2x long nymph hook)
Bead:  3/16 gold, faceted & slotted tungsten bead
Weight:  8 wraps of .020 lead wire (under the thorax area)
Wing case:  Peacock green mylar
Thorax:  Peacock herl
Legs:  8 pheasant tail fibers (4 off each side)
Ribbing:  Small gold wire
Abdomen:  Peacock tail fibers from the tail
Tail:  Peacock tail fibers (6-8)


  1. Great Blog mate.. Dont know how I have ,missed you...


  2. Very nice post. Wonderful photography!

  3. The trout down here love those types of flies. If you ever get down to NC holler at me.

  4. Love those shots and huge PT fan, thanks for sharing!

  5. Do the 3/16 slotted beads you use have a small front hole? I tried a regular round 3/16 bead and it just slips over the hook eye?

  6. Bob,
    Yes the hole is small no problem with the bead sliding past the eye of the hook. The slotted bead really is an essential element of this pattern.