Turkey Tail Nymph
Author: Marissa Jensen
Spring is filled with the thrills of turkey hunting. Extend the thrills into the fishing season by using turkey feathers to tie your own flies. Relish in the memories of your hunt while also putting those feathers to good use that may have otherwise been thrown away. The sense of pride and ownership that comes with creating a fly with a bird that you’ve harvested, that then lands a fish is unparalleled. If that’s not enough, combining these two hobbies can help build a deeper bond and connection with the environment that we all strive for.
The Turkey Tail Nymph:
Turkey feathers can be substituted for other commonly used feathers in a pattern such as the Pheasant Tail Nymph, or you can get creative and make your own pattern! This nymph pattern can imitate a variety of insects, but it especially resembles a mayfly nymph.
This is one of my favorite go-to flies for many different scenarios. Trout will readily take this fly, as well as many warm water species such as blue gill, crappie and even bass!
- Hook sizes: Wet Fly 1XL – 2XL in size 12-18
- Underbody: Round lead-free wire
- Tail: Turkey tail feather fibers
- Thorax: Peacock Herl
- Wing case: Turkey breast feather
- Thread: Black size 8
- Ribbing: Copper
Begin by wrapping approximately 10-12 turns of lead wire or lead-free substitute tightly around hook for weight. This will ensure the fly sinks quickly.
2. Wrap black thread down the shank of the hook and stop before reaching the bend (just above the barb).
3. Cut off 3-4 turkey fibers. Measure the fibers to the length of the fly’s body and tie in at the tail point of the shank where the bend begins (narrow points of tail pointing away from body).
4. Cut another section of 4-6 turkey tail fibers and tie in the tips along with your copper wire at the bend of the hook.
5. Wrap your black thread forward to create a slightly tapered appearance.
6. Wrap tail fibers up the body to create the abdomen of the fly with smooth and close-wound turns. Wrap thread back over wrapped feathers to approximately 1/3” distance from the eye.
7. Wrap approximately 6 turns of copper wire up the shank and tie in with a couple of wraps of thread. At this point, tie in 6-8 fibers of breast feathers that will be used for the wing case.
8. Next tie in a couple of strands of peacock herl.
9. Wrap the peacock herl forward to create the thorax. Tie in with your thread. Make sure to not overcrowd the eye of the hook.
10. Pull the wing case forward over the thorax. Tie in with several wraps of thread.
11. Apply a drop of head cement or clear nail polish on the wraps to finish.
Now you’re ready to take that spring turkey to the water. Tight Lines!