Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Syl's Nymph

In keeping with the established structure of the blog, the fly above is tied on a size 14 hook. Nemes, however, recommends tying the fly on nothing larger than a size 16 hook and, in fact, recommends the 16 over anything smaller: “[i]n my experience and from the experiences of many of my friends who have fished Syl’s Midge, the size 16 works as well as 22. So why sacrifice the bite and power of the larger hook?”




Extra small copper wire, reverse ribbed

Peacock herl

Gray partridge from the nape or shoulder

In the second edition of The Soft-Hackled Fly (2006), Sylvester Nemes includes the dressing for his midge pattern. He explains that his soft-hackled midge takes its cues from George Griffith’s classic dry fly midge pattern, the Griffith’s Gnat.

The fly utilizes such popular and historically successful materials that other possible precedents exist, though Nemes's dressing seems to be the result of much more conscious development in the American tradition independent of Restoration angling convention.

Nevertheless, in the Angler’s Vade Mecum (1681), James Chetham reprints the flies Cotton included in the second part of the Compleat Angler (1676). In both, the Peacock-flie or Fly is a dressing for May: “There is also this Month a flie call’d the Peacock-flie, the body made with a whirl of a Peacocks feather, with a red head, and wings of a Mallards feather.” If Cotton and Chetham intend the flytier to use a speckled or barred mallard's breast feather, then the effect would indeed be much like Nemes's. Nemes, however, suggests that the classic wet fly, the Gray Hackle (more commonly tied now as the Gray Hackle Red), is a more likely precedent. 


  1. Love the blog. Saw the link off of The Fiberglass Manifesto and followed it over here. I enjoy fishing soft hackles, either alone or as part of a nymph rig. I'll definitely be added a lot of these flies to my box.

    1. Excellent! Thank for checking out the blog!

  2. Neil
    I really like to fish soft hackle flies. I recently lost one of my best rainbows on a beadhead soft hackle which is so close to the pattern you have tied. The legs on this fly is really the attractor that drive the trout crazy. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks, Bill - a soft partridge hackle on any sort of body seems to get their attention. Dark snipe on the peacock body work's well, too:

  3. Hello, Neil, just found your blog from a link over on The Fiberglass Manifesto. Really nice work here. I love to fish with soft hackles and enjoy tying them. I will be following along on your blog so you probably will hear from me again. I will add your blog link to my BlogBuddies blog list. Stop over and say hello sometime, Mel

  4. I love soft hackles. I fished them almost exclusively for trout this year. I've seen this pattern before but never tried it. I don't know why. Nice tie.

    1. Thanks, Kevin - this one will serve you well fished near the top, where Nemes wanted it to represent a midge cluster, but it produces fished deeper in the current, too.