When I first took up fly fishing I struggled for a long time to catch fish. I think this initial difficulty made me all the more keen to be able to do it and I dedicated as much time as I could find to my new pursuit. Eventually I started to catch fish and realised its not the fly that catches the fish but the way it is presented although I think the Mary Copperhead Nymph may be an exception ! I asked Simon Robinson about the fly and he kindly agreed to write about how he came up with the design:
I first came up with the tying for the Mary Copperhead nymph in early 2003. Firstly however I would like to say that it is purely a pheasant tail variation and nothing more. It is however a particular variation that has caught both myself and others many fish over the past 10 Years.
The fly was designed around the same time as the England team began using the duo method on a short fixed line for difficult fish in shallow riffles. The fly came about as I had been using a flash back goldhead pheasant tail with great success, however I wanted something more subtle. I had also however found that taking the pearl flash back out completely seemed to kill the flies effectiveness also. When I finally came up with the pearl thorax cover and copper bead combination the fly seemed to have the perfect combination of subtlety and flash and would catch both educated and ‘easy’ unpressured fish.
The original was tied on a size 16 hook with grizzle hackle tail, pheasant tail body and hares ear thorax with pearl cover. The England team first used the fly in the 2003 world championships in spain to good effect. Later that year I used the fly in Ireland to win my first home international rivers title.
Since then I have devised many variations with different colour beads and collars and quill bodies but the original is still just as effective. The only change now being that we use coq de leon fibres for the tail.
Originally designed for duo fishing it also works as a light dropper fly when heavy nymphing and is also a great point fly for spider Fishing in the spring. Whilst it is purely a pheasant tail variation it is a very use and effective one for all types of river fishing and one that I, and many others would not be without.