Leisenring’s Tups Nymph (Nymph)

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.)


They seem to be the same pattern, but the nymph version calls for a tail of two honey dun hackle points; the wet (in the Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve section) does not. And while both patterns specify “very small” hackle, the photo of the wet in the book shows a hackle that extends well past the hook gap. There’s an illustrated S-B-S of the nymph, and it shows an ultra-short hackle that comes nowhere near the width of the hook gap. It’s all a little confusing.

Leisenring is very particular about his nymphs. He calls for heavy wire to help them sink, although he also mentions fishing them near the surface. He states he has “no use for a weighted nymph because they do not swim naturally.” Take that, Euro nymphers! And I love that he is a bear about “exceedingly sharp” hooks. That’s a man after my own heart.

I gotta tell you, though — this is one unattractive pattern. There’s precious little that sings to me, unless I were to be confronted by a hatch of sulphurs or golden stones. Still, Leisenring had a high enough opinion of this fly to make it the nymph tying example. Let the trout be the judge!

Leisenring’s Tups Nymph (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
Tying notes: The hackle length should be well short of the hook gap. You can take the hackle points from the very base of a hen neck. Leisenring wants you to tie in the hackle points with the buttonhole twist over a bare hook shank; that is, starting from eye part of the abdomen, down to the tail, then back. I found this to be a pain in the butt. As always, DMC embroidery floss #744 is my buttonhole twist substitute, one separated strand’s worth. The instructions say the body should be halved, but the illustrations in the book clearly show a 2:1 abdomen:thorax ratio. Seal substitute Angora goat is its usual difficult self; I recommend using high-tack wax like Loon Swax. Leisenring wants you to jam the hackle “almost into the dubbing.” Two or three wraps at the most. Then finish.

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