Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Tup’s Nymph

Here we have Leisenring’s take on the English classic Tups Indispensable. (Bonus points if you know the meaning of “Tups,” and its relevance to the pattern. Hint: it has to do with sheep mating. Really.) The original across-the-pond pattern was intended as an olive spinner imitation. But when I see this fly, I think Yellow Sallies, Suplhurs, and Light Cahills. Or we could just go with “Pale Wateries” and be done with it. Once again, best to leave it to the trout to decide what it is. Leisenring specified a heavy wire hook to help sink the fly: “I have no use for a weighted nymph because they do not swim naturally.” (Take that, future Euro-nymphers!) The Tup’s Nymph was another high confidence pattern for Big Jim, as evidenced by this statement: “This is the best all-around nymph I have found.” Try it on point on your three-fly team, or as the top dropper on your nymph rig.

Tup’s Nymph



Hook: 13-14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Very small light-blue hen hackle or medium-dark honey dun hen hackle
Body: Halved: rear half of primrose-yellow buttonhole twist; thorax or shoulder of yellow and claret seal fur mixed dubbing spun on primrose-yellow silk.
Tail: Two honey dun hackle points (Leisenring omits the tail in his listing of twelve favorites; the photo in the book shows a tail. Do as you please.)
Tying Notes: I would suggest a 2x strong hook. The dark honey dun hackle might be more suggestive of an olive. We’re back to the DMC embroidery floss (#744) as our buttonhole twist substitute. Although Leisenring says the body is halved, his step-by-step illustrations in the book (and the pattern photo) show more of a 2/3 abdomen to 1/3 thorax ratio. Substitute Angora goat for seal fur. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

6 comments on “Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Tup’s Nymph

  1. Steve says:

    Why do some recipes list honey dun cock hackles and others hen hackles? Being a wet fly, or at best fished in film as emerger it would seem that hen is the better choice? Any theories?

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Steve, cock hackle is not listed as hackling material for any of the 12, save the Coachman (cockerel) Black Gnat (cock starling for its color) and Iron Blue Nymph (cock jackdaw, coming today) — unless I made a mistake transcribing the recipes, in which case I will rely on you and other readers to inform me of the error of my ways. Cock chicken hackle is specified only for tails. Rooster is a traditional tailing material, and I can only assume that Leisenring preferred the longer, stiffer fibers to work with. Hope that helps.

  2. Steve says:

    Yup, my speed reading mistake! Appreciate the substitutes recommended for some of those exotic/obscure hackles.

  3. […] No, dear reader, you are not seeing double. In James Leisenring’s The Art of Tying the Wet Fly, he lists two Tup’s Nymph patterns. One’s a wingless wet, the other’s a nymph. (I covered the wet last year — in case you missed it, it’s here.) […]

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