This simple little pattern makes a great representation of a whole range of small olive-coloured nymphs especially those of the various species of upwings. These include many of the various Baetis species, which make up a large proportion of the hatches on UK rivers — insects such as Baetis rhodani, otherwise known as the large dark olive plus the medium olive and the pale watery.
The Olive Nymph is normally tied quite small from a size 14 down to an 18 and, in the smallest sizes, the partridge hackle may be omitted. Just use teased-out fibres from the dyed hare’s fur thorax to represent the nymph’s legs.
The tail comprises just a few strands of dyed-olive partridge with the body tied from dyed-olive goose or pheasant tail fibres to create a slim, slightly tapered profile.
Cock pheasant tail fibres are used for the thorax cover, rather than the same shade of olive feather used for the body. The reason is that, when a nymph is fully mature and ready to transpose into the dun, its wing-cases darken considerably and the colour of the pheasant tail fibres suitably mimics this phenomenon.
Hook Size 14-18 wet-fly Thread Olive
Tail Dyed-olive partridge fibres Rib Fine,
silver wire Body Dyed-olive goose or
pheasant tail fibres Wing cases Cock
pheasant tail fibres Hackle Dyed-olive
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the tying thread on at the eye. Carry the thread in close turns down to the bend and catch in a few fibres of dyed-olive partridge feather.
2. Secure the partridge feather fibres in place with turns of thread. Take two inches of fine silver wire and catch it in at the base of the tail.
3. Remove three or four fibres of dyed olive goose feather from the quill and catch them in, too, at the tail base. Cover the waste ends of the wire and feather fibres with close turns of thread.
4. Carry the tying thread three-quarters of the way along the hook shank. Take hold of the dyed-olive goose fibres and wind them up to the tying thread.
5. Wind the silver wire over the goose fibres in evenly spaced turns to form the rib. Take a few fibres of cock pheasant tail and catch them in, by their tips, at the front of the body.
6. Take a pinch of dyed-olive hare’s fur and apply it evenly to the tying thread.
7. Dub the fur on to the thread to form a thin rope and wind it on from the base of the pheasant tail fibres to create a small thorax.
8. Select a dyed-olive partridge hackle and, having stroked the fibres back against the grain, catch it in, by its tip, just behind the eye.
9. Take hold of the partridge hackle by its base and wind on one or two turns.
10. Secure the end of the hackle with thread and remove the excess. Stroke the fibres back towards the hook point then draw the pheasant tail fibres over the back of the thorax and secure it at the eye.
11. Secure the pheasant tail fibres with tight turns of thread before removing the excess with scissors. Build a small head and cast off the thread with a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
The Olive Nymph will catch fish on most rivers in the UK. The pattern works well in all types of water from steady runs through to smooth glides.
W H E N
Although it will take fish through the summer months, when there is no obvious surface feeding, it is also worth using in a rise. Occasionally trout will target the sub-surface nymph in preference to the duns, a phenomenon recognised by continued refusal of floating imitations.
H O W
This pattern works best when cast upstream and allowed to dead-drift with the current. This can be either in a known fishholding area or where the water clarity is good enough to spot individual fish feeding just below the surface. In its smallest sizes, it works well tied to the bend of a larger and heavier fly.
T Y I N G T I P
In the smaller sizes, the partridge hackle at the throat may be dispensed with and the legs of the nymph imitated by teased out fibres of the thorax material.