This pattern is tied to imitate the large cream-coloured nymphs of the Mayfly species Ephemera danica. For the bulk of their life cycle, these nymphs are concealed within burrows they construct in soft silt on the riverbed. It is only during the short period close to transition into the winged dun that they leave these burrows and become free-swimming.
Lacking the camouflage used by smaller olive-coloured nymphs of other upwing species, the pale-bodied Mayfly nymphs are an obvious target. At one time imitation Mayfly nymphs were nothing more than scaled-up olive nymphs but after anglers such as Dick Walker pointed out that the nymphs were not at all the same, there are now a number of more effective patterns to be tied.
As the pattern is designed to fish subsurface, it is tied with a weighted underbody to help it sink. Lead foil or wire work well enough, the latter producing enough weight where the water is not too deep. This lead wire is wound along the shank in close turns with a double layer under the thorax. The result is a base on which to build the profile of the nymph.
Cream fur is used for the body, ribbed with either brown or dark copper wire to suggest the dark markings of the natural. Cock pheasant tail fibres are used for the tail and thorax cover. The tips of the latter are folded back to form the legs.
Hook Size 8-10 longshank
Thread Brown Underbody Fine lead
wire Tail Cock pheasant tail fibres
Rib Dark copper wire Body Cream fur
Wing cases Cock pheasant tail fibres
Thorax Cream fur Hackle Cock
pheasant tail fibres
1. Fix the hook in the vice and wind close turns of fine lead wire along the shank. Wind on five or six turns at the front to form a double layer.
2. Run on the tying thread, winding it in close turns over the lead wire to fix it securely in place.
3. At the bend of the hook, catch in a few strands of cock pheasant tail.
4. Remove the waste ends of the PT fibres so they sit in the gap between the rear of the underbody and the hook bend. At the tail base, catch in two inches of dark copper wire.
5. Take a large pinch of creamcoloured fur and apply it to the tying thread.
6. Dub the fur on to the thread to form a tapered rope. Then wind it from the tail base to cover the single layer section of the lead underbody.
7. Take hold of the wire and wind it over the body in open, evenly spaced turns. Secure the loose end of the wire with turns of thread.
8. Remove the excess wire, then take a large bunch of cock pheasant tail fibres. Catch them in so that the amount projecting is one-and-a-half times the body length.
9. Take a second, smaller pinch of cream fur and dub that, too, on to the tying thread. Wind it over the double layer of lead wire to form the thorax.
10. Draw the PT fibres over the top of the thorax and secure them at the eye with three tight turns of thread.
11. Divide the fibres into two bunches of equal size. Using turns of thread, secure each bunch to either side of the hook so the tips project along the sides of the thorax.
12. Build a neat head with tying thread before casting off with a whip finish. Finally add a coat or two of clear varnish to the head.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
The Mayfly Nymph is effective on any river that supports a population of the Mayfly Ephemera danica. It may be used on both rainfed rivers and chalkstreams.
W H E N
The Mayfly Nymph can prove very effective during the early to mid-morning period before the dun hatch proper begins. It is also a good pattern to fall back on when difficult conditions suppress a reasonable hatch of the duns.
H O W
When used on rivers the Mayfly Nymph is fished singly on a floating line and a tapered leader. Though heavy enough to work when fished down-andacross, the normal method is to cast it upstream and allow it to dead-drift with the current. The occasional lift with the rod tip causes the nymph to rise in the water — a method that will often induce a take.
T Y I N G T I P
As a final touch, the sides of the abdomen may be teased out with Velcro or a dubbing needle to suggest the gills running down each side of the body.