Fly of the Month: Skinny Nelson


Another gem fly recommendation from Brian Schmidt at Umpqua Feather Merchants, recipe included:
Tracy Peterson developed this pattern as a combination _baetis
nymph/Midge larva on the Bighorn River in Montana. This was during several years of very low flows that saw an increase in the duration of midge hatches and the demise of certain mayflies like PMDs and Tricos. It was initially unweighted for the reduced water volumes during these drought summers. And boy, did it catch trout... lots and lots of them. As its effectiveness became known, Tracy, a commercial tier, filled local orders for 250-350 dozen for the Bighorn alone, so Umpqua Feather Merchants decided to add it to the arsenal and offer it to the public in 2007. Thin and sparsely tied… ribbed with gold wire… involving the magic of peacock… with a thin flashabou wingcase, it has all the ingredients to be a trout magnet. Baetis? Midge? We feel that like other great all-around nymphs such as the Pheasant Tail and Mercer’s Micro Mayfly, the Skinny Nelson is simply highly effective trout food... basically a fish’s slice of pizza.

When Tracy began guiding out of Livingston, the fly tagged along and proved itself on area rivers such as the Yellowstone, the spring creeks, and the Madison. In Oregon it has scored on the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked Rivers. Especially with the addition of a Tungsten bead, this fly is now cooking with all burners. It is deadly as a weighted point fly with another small dropper nymph, and frequently matched the unweighted (original) Skinny Nelson… two slices of pizza. It’s also a highly effective dropper below a dry fly and is perfect for a dry/dropper rig on the bigger flows like the Deschutes and the Madison. Whether the original – un-weighted version – or the Tungsten beaded one, I doubt that there are very many waters where this fly will NOT catch fish. And like many effective fly designs, this one is seemingly so darn simple.

The recipe:

HOOK: TMC 3761
THREAD: black 6/0
TAIL: Pheasant tail fibers
ABDOMEN: Black 6/0 Thread
THORAX: Peacock Herl
RIB: fine gold wire
WING CASE: Pearl Flashabou
BEAD: Tungsten black sizes 2.3 – 2.0

-Brian Schmidt