Nymphing can be as in depth and precise a dry fly fishing with respects to matching bugs in the water to patterns in the box. It can also be dumb down which is the method I try to use. I like to have a couple patterns to cover a wide range of bugs I might find. By using peacock herl for the bodies you can cover lots of colors. The herl will give your fly many different colors from greens, reds and yellows and even a silver shine. Many of these bugs have very pronounced tails and so this is the second thing to keep in mind when setting up a simple but effective nymph box. The funny thing about nymph tails is that they do not change as drastically as the rest of the fly does in its short lifetime. So in the world of nymphs there are no tails, two tails, and three tails. If you cover those bases and pair tails with the right colors you can have a great nymph box with less then half a dozen different patterns.
One of my favorite chameleon patterns is the Zug Bug. This pattern often passes as caddis larvae and cased caddis, but I have also fooled fish that were feeding mayfly larvae with the Zug Bug as well. I tie my Zug Bugs with three tails so that is why it can pass as a mayfly from time to time. So this fly is a work horse on the water and very easy to tie.
|I am told Zug Bugs can be used to catch carp as well as trout.|
These photos show step by step how to tie a Zug Bug. A step that is not pictured is the weight. After putting a base layer of thread down I like to put some lead wire down and wrap the gaps a little. You can see some of the lead in the second picture also, in that picture you can see I tied in three peacock herl ends for the tail. Then you need some more herl for the body, and a little silver tinsel for ribbing. Wrap everything toward the head but before you finish you will need to tie in a mallard flank, and some red saddle hackle. Pinch them both back and finish wrapping a head in. Trim the tail and the wing case, and I like to add a touch of head cement to my non bead head nymphs. I do like to tie a couple bead head versions of my nymphs just to add more shine, weight and variety to my nymph box.
With all this nymph talk I think it is time to start showing some dry flies. I have finished tying all the normal dry flies I like to carry. Now all that is left is to tie a couple strange dry flies, and then move on to some streamer patterns. My winter tying is coming to an end and with a couple warm days in the forecast maybe this winter is finally coming to an end.