The Skinny Nelson was developed by Tracy Peterson of Corvalis, Oregon. It seems this fly was conceived for the Bighorn River, during a period of low water years, where its sparse profile and unobtrusiveness made it a killer. Tracy later added a tungsten bead to this super simple pattern to add a bit of weight and make the fly a bit more useful in a dry-dropper application. I believe this fly works so well because it can cross over from a baetis nymph to a midge pattern in the blink of an eye. This is a ridiculously easy pattern to tie and it will take no time to fill up a row in your fly box, so stop sitting around on the internet and get to tying!
Hook: TMC 3761 #16-20
Bead: (Optional) Black Tungsten, sized to hook
Thread: Black 70 Denier UTC
Tail: Ringneck Pheasant Tail Fibers
Rib: Small Gold Wire
Abdomen: Black 70 Denier Tying Thread
Wingcase: Pearl Flashabou
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Place the bead on the hook and slide it up to the eye of the hook. Start the tying thread behind the bead and wrap a smooth thread base back to the bend.
Select three or four pheasant tail fibers and even their tips. Measure the tips against the shank so they are about 2/3 of a shank long.
Tie the pheasant fibers in at the bend of the hook with a couple firm wraps of thread.
Wrap the thread forward over the butt ends of the pheasant tail fibers to the back of the bead.
Clip the butt ends of the pheasant tail fibers flush against the bead. Tie in a length of small gold wire right behind the bead.
Wrap back over the wire with the thread to the bend of the hook, then return the thread to the back of the bead forming a smooth, slightly tapered abdomen as you go. Do not bulk the fly up with a bunch of thread here…it’s called a SKINNY Nelson for a reason!
Spiral wrap the wire forward from the bend and tie it off at the bead. Clip the excess.
Tie in wwo strands of pearl Flashabou at the center of their length right behind the bead.
Pull the long front ends of the flash back over the abdomen and tie them in place with a couple turns of thread as shown…
Tie several small peacock herls in by their tips just behind the bead.
Wrap the thread back over the peacock to the seventy-five percent point. Roll the herls in your fingertips to bunch them into a cord.
Wrap the corded peacock herl forward to the back edge of the bead and tie off. Clip the excess peacock.
Pull all four strands of flash over the top of the peacock herl thorax and tie them off at the immediate back edge of the bead.
Fold the long ends of the flash back once again and trap them under a few firm wraps of thread. Folding the flash like this will prevent it from pulling out when you fish it.
Clip the excess flash and whip finish the thread. Clip the thread.
Finished fly. Add water.