September 8, 2008

swimming nymphs

Bob Clouser's swimming nymph has arguably got to be one of the pioneer fly patterns of modern fly fishing. This fly is truly a classic; a time proven, highly effective fly pattern. While it was originated for catching smallmouth on the Susquehanna River, there's just something seems to make the carp go ga-ga over it. Whether it is the resemblance to a small crawfish, a hexagenia or large drake mayfly nymph, or a dragonfly nymph, fish seem to love it. I like to tie my versions of this venerable pattern using rabbit fur, as it is more durable than marabou.

While this pattern works, there's no doubt about that, I was looking for something a little more specific to carp. I added beadchain eyes and silicone legs. I've tied versions both with soft hackle legs and without; I don't really think it matters much so tying without the hackle will save time on the tie. I think the silicone legs will steal all of the attention on this fly pattern. I dub thee roughfisher's swimming nymph.

I tried tying this pattern on a Tiemco 2457 2X strong scud hook. I'll have to see if the curved shank helps to improve fish hookups.

This last pattern I tied using hare guard hairs for the tail, and hares ear dubbing for the body.

I managed to get a whole rabbit pelt at the Hobby Lobby for a couple bucks. The quality of the skin was impeccable, and is also great for tying hare's ear nymphs, or making your own natural dubbing blends. The craft store is a haven for cheap fly tying materials, and is a good alternative to items that are often highly marked up at the fly shop. The next time you are dragged to the craft store by your significant other, pop over to the craft section and look for steals on furs, soft hackles, beads and craft foam. You'll be surprised at the bargains you can find.


  1. Would you make the argument that the swimming nymph supercedes the Clouser minnow? As a saltwater guy, I'd say no.

  2. Pete I agree; hell no! The clouser minnow, in my book, is THE ultimate streamer pattern of the ages. I have more confidence in fishing a clouser than a wooly bugger. They are killer.

    But as far as attractor style nymphs go, the swimming nymph can do it all for a variety of fish species. There's a lot of competition in that genre.

    When I meant modern fly fishing, I meant MODERN, like in the last few decades, not the Catskill style dry fly fishing that most refer to as "modern" dry fly fishing. The sport has evolved so much since then. Nymphs (and other subsurface patterns) now seem to rule the day.

  3. Gotcha. I should read more carefully anyway, as you said "one of the pioneer patterns..." not "the pioneer pattern..." Either way, as someone still trying to land his first carp, I'll be tying one on when I get the chance.

  4. good luck with that Pete. Let me know if I can be of any help.

  5. The swimming clouser has tallied quite a few carp for me. I consider a top fly. I like some of your variations on it... I also agree that orange rabbit fur is the best tail material... I don't have any of that, so I use marabou or squirrel/fox tail.

  6. I agree with the swimming nymph being one of the best attractor patterns out there for both cold and warm water fisheries. To answer your post... I am using clouser swimming nymphs although to be honest the batch I have right now are not your genuine clousers...I think they are Umpquas...they are still the same as far as I can tell..maybe less weighted... I scoped out your variations and for me I have had the most luck with sheepies and carp by removing the rubber and going all feather and fur.

    I need to start tying again!

  7. I am snagging a lot of weeds/ leafs/ etc working nymphs so slow on the bottom for carp. Will the bead eyes ride the hook up to avoid these snags ?

  8. The bead eyes will help the hook ride point up, however, the eyes themselves seem to accumulate moss since they are not streamlined.