Beady Eyed Pheasant History

Rainbow trout swirl :: The LOONS Flyfishing Club

Salmon Lake ‘bow | Richard Mayer © 2000

THE ORIGIN OF MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE has roots stemming from one of my standard flies… the Doc Spratley …an easy-to-tie pattern that consistently produces fish, whether fishing to known fish or as a searching pattern.

It was during a fishing trip to Salmon Lake in 1996 that a ‘prototype’ for this pattern emerged. As other anglers on the lake were into a lot more Kamloops ‘bows than our group of four, I made a point of asking… “What fly are you using?” The reply… “A small bead-headed nymph.”

Having none in my fly box, I resorted to the field-tying kit I had brought along when we returned to the cabin for a shore break. The original ‘Beady Eyed’, back then, did not use pheasant tail for anything beyond the tail and wing. Armed with a half dozen freshly-tied flies, I set out for the west end of Salmon Lake where the fishing had been particularly productive. Within a few casts, my ‘luck’ had changed… the two hour session that followed that afternoon saw numerous Kamloops trout eagerly engulf this fly.

When two other anglers in our fishing party joined me on the water later that afternoon, they could see my 4-weight rod was nearly bent double. As their boat approached mine, they shut off the motor and asked… “How’s the fishing been?” Breaking my concentration for a moment, I piped back… “Great!” A few seconds later, I gently lifted a 4 1/2 pound trout just above the water for their benefit, commenting this was the fourth fish like this in the last half hour. Needless to say, their next question was… “What fly?” My reply… “That new nymph I tied earlier this afternoon.”

The balance of that afternoon and evening saw many more good trout to the boats before the failing light signalled it was time to call it a day. Before heading to bed that evening, I tied a supply of Beady Eyed Pheasants for all to use the following morning, as this fly was out-producing all other patterns we had used on this trip.

We were greeted to a spectacular morning and a glass-smooth lake… it was nearly a fish every cast, with some up to 5 pounds …an incredible end to a great fishing trip. For me, the fish-filled afternoon and morning proved once again how valuable a field-tying kit is when you didn’t bring any patterns along that the fish are keyed in on.

Over the next several months, I continued to evolve the pattern. Jim Teeny’s all-pheasant tail nymph, the ‘Teeny Nymph‘, a productive fly for a diverse mix of fish species, provided food for thought and motivation to use a singular fibre… pheasant tail …as the key material of this pattern. As I was planning a return trip to Salmon Lake in the Fall with one of the anglers from the previous trip, this would give me a chance to compare the effectiveness of an all-pheasant ‘Beady Eyed’ against the original prototype.

The refined tie was effective, but it wasn’t until the following year when we made our annual pilgrimage to Salmon Lake that the pattern proved just how effective. There were times during our trip in 1998 where I was outfishing my friend 6 to 1… this only lasting until he finally succumbed to using the Beady Eyed; then it was fish-for-fish. One morning we caught and released over 3 dozen trout in an hour and a half… this compares to another angler who was chironomid fishing ‘his spot’ during that same hour and a half, but… he didn’t touch one fish.

In addition to my friend, more recent converts to the ‘Beady Eyed’ include fellow Loons, Rob Way and Kevin Mayer, when we journeyed to Salmon Lake for the Chairman’s Fall Classic in October 2000 and October 2002.

Need I say more?

Richard Mayer

About the Pattern | Tying Sequence

The LOONS Flyfishing Club

The LOONS Flyfishing Club