Articulated Nymphs, All Hype or the Real Deal?

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

By Kent Klewein

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.

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.

Leptophlebia Mayfly Nymph

Isonychia Mayfly Nymph

Brown Drake Nymph

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “Articulated Nymphs, All Hype or the Real Deal?

  1. You’ve got a good point Kent. You would think with the articulated streamer craze, you would see more articulated patterns pop up in every segment of fly patterns. Some articulated nymphs have been around for a while, but by no means has there been any big push to come up with the next great articulated nymph. I don’t have many, nor do I realy tie any other than just to experiment, but they are pretty cool, and I’ve caught some nice trout when fishing them. Maybe it will catch on, but I think it will have to really hit the mainstream by way of a more famous, notable source….kinda like how articulated streamers became popular. Kelly Galloup stepped outside the box a little bit, and it was a huge success. He, in my opinion, created a subculture of streamer fishing freaks within the world of fly fishing and I love it. We just need to keep experimenting more with other types of patterns….the next big thing will eventually surface. Maybe it will be articulated nymphs.

  2. Kent,
    I have had huge success with articulated nymphs. I am primarily a stillwater fisherman and have to depend on myself to impart movement to my flies.
    A damsel nymph, especially this time of year, is a great candidate. The fly pictured below floats just below the surface.

    I have also articulated more popular flies such as the Copper John, Burk’s Aggravator(with material adjustments) and Hare’s Ear.

    They all work in the proper situation and are fun to tie. Just a note so that you can save a little money try Flyfisherman’s Wiggle Shanks for the srticulated portion of your fly. They are much cheaper than cutting a hook


  3. I tie a variety of articulated streamers, but have never tried any articulated nymphs. Given how I generally fish streamers, it may make sense for me to give this a try.

    Thanks for the idea. The photos are pretty interesting and really give me an idea (or two) for some additions to my patterns.

  4. I tied up a few of Vance Wilcox’s articulated dry flies the “Dingle-Berry”- I liked it. The concept makes sense and articulated flies are fun to tie for me because of the challenge- besides just looking cool.

  5. I’ve tied a very few articulated nymphs. I love the theory behind’wiggling’ nymphs in the water, but I just can’t get over how huge they are. It seems like it almost double the size of the fly. Have you experienced and rejections because of size?

  6. I tie my Green drake nymph with a articulated body, but thats really the only fly that i tie like that but i have thought about it alot…do you think it turns the fish off when they take the back portion of the nymph and feels metal

  7. I’ve heard the old timers say that iso’s are good swimmers, which is why swinging an iso nymph works so well, never tried an articulated one but after seeing that video, I think I might.

  8. I tied them up and tried them and they do work. On the other hand I have also used micro wiggle legs for movement and had just as good of results. Also tieing loop knots to the eye of your fly will help to increase the action and hook ups.

  9. I started tying an articulated salmonfly nymph years ago using two hooks and inner tube rubber for the body. It is large and it is the grabbiest fly in the world. Even lousy nymph fishermen catch fish with it as it must be hard for a fish to spit it without the indicator moving. The only problem is that I have grown to really dislike indicator fishing from a drift boat, and thus don’t do it anymore. It is a great fly when I’m taking inexperienced anglers or Kids.

  10. A friend introduced me to fly fishing in 1976. Among a selection of flies he gave me were some articulated nymphs.

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