Sunday’s Classic / Halfback Nymph in High Water

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Halfback Nymph Pattern. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Looking for a great high water nymph pattern that will consistently fool trout? Try tying on a halfback nymph, it’s an oldie but goodie that has produced big fish for me countless times over the years. The buggy profile of the halfback nymph does a great job of imitating a large variety of aquatic insects, and it’s large size is easy for trout to spot quickly in fast water. This nymph pattern screams “I’m a big juicy morsel, Come eat me”, and I always have at least a half dozen of these guys in my fly box. I often use the halfback nymph as my lead fly in my tandem nymph rig, and tie a 16-24″ piece of tippet off the bend of the hook with a smaller dropper nymph. You can also try substituting the standard peacock herl underbody with a more flashy dubbing material when fishing dingy water conditions. It will add more attraction value and make the pattern easier for fish to spot.

Hook Size: 8-14
Thread: 6/0 Black
Tail: Pheasant-Tail
Ribbing: Palmered Brown Saddle Hackle from abdomen to throax
Abdomen: Peacock Herl with Pheasant-tail folded over back
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / Halfback Nymph in High Water

  1. I would also like to comment about fishing yesterday with a size 14 halfback nymph, followed by a size 18 pheasant tail. Same setup as the week before, and each week the fish were hitting it. However, yesterday I hooked and lost or missed many, many more fish than the week before. Had me scratching my head and asking WTF? Same stretch of river, same water temps 55-60 degrees, and I wasn’t hung over (I think my reaction time was the same). I consoled myself with the fact that most of the better size fish that did hit, I did bring to hand. However, most of those were barely hooked in the lip. Anyone else have that experience?

    • Greg,

      Hard to say since I was not there. First, were you getting the bites during the dead-drift or at the end, during the swing? Second, were you setting the hook as soon as your strike indicator signaled a bite? Third, were the fishing conditions the same on both days (water and weather)?


      • Hi Kent,

        The strikes were on the dead drift. The fish had moved into riffles, the time before they were deeper in the pools. Maybe in faster water, I need to faster with my striking? Thanks for any advice.


  2. are those bead chain eyes on the big photo, and I assume they are not tied on top to prevent it from floating hook point up?

    • Ronr,

      The halfback in the picture is a friend of mines. I’m pretty sure those are really small bead chain eyes, but they could be black mono style barrel eyes.

      Either way, I think the large eyes are a good feature. Many large size nymphs have surprisingly big eyes. As far as the way the hook point rides, either way will catch fish.

      The last few years more and more wet flies are being tied so the hook point rides up. This can cut down on snagging the bottom when dredging, but it still won’t keep you snag-free.

      Thanks for your comment.


  3. Such a classic, I wouldn’t fish a freestone without a handful of these in my box. It’s good to see the classics aren’t forgotten around here!

  4. Very cool to see such a simple fly work so well. Amazed how popular some of the ultra-realistic flies are with some people.
    Do you tie yours with lead wire for weight? If so, how much?
    Thanks and keep up great blog!

    • Jed,

      How you been? Yes, I usually wrap the hook with lead wire .15-.25 depending on the size I am tying. The heavy hackled pattern makes it have a slow sink rate. I usually have to use split-shot as well, especially when fishing high flows.

      Thanks for the comment and hope all is well.


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