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Hares Ear / Pheasant Tail

Pheasant Tail and  Hare’s Ear

Two classic fishing fly patterns which, in their various forms, can be used to represent a huge variety of different aquatic insects at different stages in their life cycle, throughout the year, and in freshwater environments from faster-flowing streams and rivers to lazy creeks, lakes and reservoirs.

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More about the Pheasant Tail Nymph

Consensus on fly origin can be rare, but not in the case of the Pheasant Tail: Frank Sawyer’s 1958 book ‘Nymphs and Trout’ is the earliest known use of copper wire to weight a wet fly. Sawyer devised his original pattern to mimic Blue Winged Olive mayfly nymphs swimming with their legs tucked backwards, and many consider it a perfect imitation, but variants can be used to represent any number of aquatic larvae. Widely regarded as the first modern nymph pattern.

More about the Hare’s Ear

Takes its name from the animal whose hair was traditionally used for the fly hackle: both softer and stiffer hairs were used to resemble the thorax and trailing legs respectively. Modern patterns tend to use Rabbit fur, and golden wire is wound around the hackle: hence ‘Gold-Ribbed’ or just ‘GRHE’. As with the Pheasant Tail, it is effective because it is a good resemblance of a number of different water-dwelling bugs, especially mayfly and caddis.

Bead Heads

Both flies have more modern bead head variants, and so lend themselves to quite a few different techniques. Many anglers will use the traditional non-beaded versions to represent a hatching caddis or mayfly nymph rising to the surface, and you could consider tying these on if you see trout making short, quick movements below the water. Alternatively, the extra weight of a beaded head allows for convincing drift patterns with the current at depth in moving water, or stripping back in calmer water such as a lake or reservoir to resemble a swimming nymph. Either way, the additional glint of reflected light grabs many a fish’s attention, and anglers report that these beadheads are great ‘prospecting’ flies all year round.

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