Articulated Nymphs, All Hype or the Real Deal?

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Articulated Nymphs, All Hype or the Real Deal? Photos By: Louis Cahill

If you pull any serious streamer fisherman aside and ask them to name their favorite streamer pattern, chances are the fly pattern will be articulated.

Ask the same question instead to a serious nymph fisherman, and most will answer with names of nymphs that aren’t articulated. I agree you don’t have to fish articulated nymph patterns to catch trout, but I do find it a little odd that we aren’t seeing more of them in the spot light today. As far as I can tell, the concept has been around almost as long as articulated streamers have. The last couple of years I’ve started to incorporate articulation into my fly tying for many of my nymph patterns. Just about all of them have done very well for me on the water. In some cases, my articulated versions have caught trout 3 to 1 over the traditional non-articulated versions. You can’t tie all nymphs articulated because many fly patterns and species of aquatic micro-invertabrates are far too small. However, with some practice, most fly tiers will find it’s pretty easy to tie articulated nymph patterns as small as a standard size 16 nymph hook.



For the most of my fly fishing career, I thought the majority of aquatic nymphs were poor swimmers. I pictured them in my head spending most of their time drifting helplessly in the current incapable of generating enough propulsion to maneuver around. The fact is, most nymphs, particularly mayflies, are very good swimmers. Take a couple minutes to view these video links of aquatic insect larva swimming in the water, and it will blow your mind. After viewing these videos I think you’ll begin to understand how valuable articulated nymphs can be at imitating the movements of swimming nymphs.

Leptophlebia Mayfly Nymph

Isonychia Mayfly Nymph

Brown Drake Nymph

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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The past decade and a half they have become quite the popular choice for their ability to add increased  swimming action they provide when retrieved. The last couple of years I’ve begun tying and fishing more articulated nymphs.

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15 thoughts on “Articulated Nymphs, All Hype or the Real Deal?

  1. Sweet. Gotta try some of those for the “gills” that swim in our North Texas ponds and yes most of my bass streamers are articulated.

  2. I’ve had the opportunity to do macroinvertebrate sampling with TU on several occasions and am always amazed at the energy levels of those little guys.

  3. Hi Kent
    Is there any underwater footage of an actual articulated nymph being fished (dead drift) to see how much the rear section moves ? It would be very interesting to see this an might justify a reason to tye this way. I can see how it would work under pressure, being swung or stripped. Just a thought
    Thanks RW

    • Rick,

      No I do not have any under water footage. I will put that on a to-do list next time Louis amd I are on the water. I will tell you that they work very well for me an you should give them a try in the meantime.


  4. Pingback: Bugs – Every Day in May

  5. First of all, let me say that I’m new to tying articulated mayfly nymphs. After viewing several videos on how to tie them, it appeared to me that the tail segment is designed to wiggle back and forth on a lateral plane (like a swimming damsel fly); the mono loop is tied in vertically and the tail shank loop is tied in horizontally. However, after viewing the mayfly videos above, I noticed that the naturals swim by gyrating their tails in a VERTICAl motion (similar to how a swimmer does a dolphin kick). So I was wondering if it would be better to tie in the tail segment so that I moves vertically (the mono loop would be tied in horizontal to the hook shank and the tail shank loop would be tied in vertically. It seems this would allow the nymph to move in a more natural way. Any thoughts on this? Am I making it too complicated?

  6. I try many of my nymphs with a grizzly marabou tail and they out fish everything else I have in my fly box.

  7. Dough Swisher and Carl Richards 1971 classic book, SELECTIVE TROUT, show how to tie a “wiggle nymph”.
    It all begins on page 31. They have worked for years.

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