I first made this fly as a dragon fly nymph for the local stillwaters, but its also proved to be very effective as a juvenile crayfish pattern. It gives a very impressionistic profile of several critters, it’s very similar to a wooly bugger in this regard. I’ve been playing with this pattern for 8 or 9 years for trout and bass(and now carp.) The original had rubber legs and was tied on a normal streamer hook, a lot like Andy Burks Aggravator nymph but with dumbell eyes to invert the hook. The last few seasons I’ve been tying it on a jig hook with just black bead chain and a little lead to invert the hook instead of the heavier lead eyes. I’ve also swapped in some pheasant rump hackle for a little mottling, iridescence and overall more natural hues. Its now lighter, easier to cast and more subtle in appearance. The 90 degree jig hook allows the fly to swim properly with an indicator in slow or still water. This can be deadly for smallmouth bass when suspended directly over heavy cover. I can also cast and strip it in shallow water right on the bottom without hangups(great for mudding carp.) It also nymphs very well with a high stick or indicator nymphing setup for trout.
Early last season I tried the updated version of this fly for the first time(with the jig hook and pheasant hackle.) In the first 24 hours(one afternoon and the next morning) I caught 4 species of fish with it. A carp, a nice brown, some rainbows and some chunky smallmouth. It’s quickly replacing an olive bugger as my all purpose, multi-species freshwater streamer. Here’s a few fishy shots from those first 2 days of testing.
A pretty little carp that was mudding in a trench. I’m lucky she was mudding pretty heavily otherwise I probably wouldn’t have seen her on that cloudy day until it was too late.
Pretty little brownie took the fly on the strip, right around 20 inches, with beautiful blue cheeks.
A chunky smallmouth the next morning
Here’s a step by step of the Pheasant Dragon.
Gamakatsu or other brand 90 degree jig hook, size 1 or 2
extra large black beadchain eyes
pheasant rump hackle
olive grizzly marabou or chickabou
cream and tan hares ear + blended with a little UV pearl ice dub for the body
some dark hares ear dubbing for the head
Start the thread and figure eight wrap the beadchain eyes on
wrap around 8 or 9 wraps of lead up to the beadchain eyes
When you hit the eyes, start wrapping 5 or 6 wraps back.
Beak off the excess and then cocoon the lead a little bit with some thread wraps. A little glue at this point wouldn’t hurt either.
Measure 2-3 grizzly marabou feathers to the length of the hook shank. If they have any curvature, have them cup facing towards each other.
Tie them down for a tail, preferably with the feathers lying down flat. You want this pattern to be slightly flat instead of tall. Trim the excess marabou so it matches up to the single layer lead and makes a more uniform diameter underbody.
Pick out 5 larger pheasant rump feathers with some good barring.
Remove the underfluff.
Tie in the feather by its tip and wrap forward, stroking the fibers back.
Dub a little creamy dubbing in front of the pheasant. Make the dubbing ball about as thick as the beadchain eyes.
Tie in and wrap another pheasant rump feather
Make another dubbing ball
Wrap another pheasant feather
another dubbing ball
wrap another pheasant feather
Repeat for one more segment and you should have your body finished. A nice mottled, buggy looking thing, right up to the eyes.
Rotate the hook in the vise. Now pick out a nice, small clean feather from the bottom of the rump patch. Preferably one that is semi symmetrical.
Remove the fluff and tie onto the top of the hook, right above the bead chain eyes. Try to tie it down with some of the fiber instead of just stem, otherwise the feather will want to rotate.
Make a couple wraps with the darker dubbing behind the eyes, then figure eight wrap some dubbing for a head between the eyes.
Whip finish. Take the fly out of the vice and give it a good pinch to flatten it a little.
Add some glue and the flies done.