Pheasant Tail Nymphs

By Barry Beck


It seems like so long ago now when I think back to a long awaited package that arrived by air mail. It was a small box neatly wrapped in plain brown paper and weighing almost nothing and I quickly opened it with nervous fingers. Inside was a single white index card and twelve flies carefully taped to it. A beautifully written note explained that six of the flies were pheasant tail nymphs and the other six were killer bugs. The note also included the simple tying instructions for both patterns and was signed “With best regards, Frank Sawyer”.

At the young age of 13 most of my friends were into sports and collecting things like baseball cards, but I lived and breathed fly fishing and at the time Sawyer’s gift was as good as any Mickey Mantle baseball card could have ever been.