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Copper John / Prince

Copper John, Prince Nymph

Two best-selling flies utilizing beads, garish hackle materials and bright copper wire (wound very close and tight on the Copper John, and with some spacing on the Prince Nymph). Whilst not exactly natural-looking to our eyes, both patterns, in various guises, have been fished to great effect as the larvae of Stoneflies, Caddis Flies, Mayflies and even Midges / Mosquitoes. The weight enables them to get down to the trout’s level fast and the reflective nature of the modern materials proves too tempting to resist.

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More about the Copper John

John Barr first tied the pattern that bears his name in 1996, and in just a few decades it has become a modern classic. In the form it was originally conceived (natural copper wire) it proved a convincing Mayfly nymph imitation. Barr was soon encouraged to try two other colors – red, and Chartreuse green – and found that these variants were also successful. With the advent of tarnish-proof wire in multiple colors Barr soon found that other shades of green plus, in his words, “silver, wine, zebra (black and silver), black, blue, and hot pink” were also all highly effective.

More about the Prince Nymph

Whether he came up with the pattern himself during the WW2 years or whether credit should go to brothers Don & Dick Olson a decade earlier, one thing is sure: Doug Prince never intended this fly to be named after him. The story goes that friend and mail-order supplier Buz Buszek (who Prince tied for) wanted to include the hugely effective nymph pattern in a catalog, but forgot that Prince called it a ‘Brown Fork-Tailed Nymph’ and instead labelled it the ‘Prince Nymph’. It was a hit with anglers and the name stuck. Prince never sought recognition, let alone fame, and is remembered today as fly-tying innovator thanks to a number of other successful patterns that have outlived him.

Both patterns have an ancestor in another classic fly: Frank Sawyer’s copper wound Pheasant Tail Nymph.

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