June 8, 2012

Improving the Swimming Nymph

The classic Swimming Nymph finds utility in just about any water and any situation you put it in to. Clouser hit one out of the park with his original design. My younger cockier self, manipulated the pattern years back to come up with something of my own, like the Men In Black nymph. Perhaps foolish at the time to think I could tweak a proven pattern and somehow make it mine but subbing a few ingredients and adding some flair. Naïveté. While the MIB has been effective over the years, it's not really mine per se, as it was just a bastardized ripoff of an idea that was never mine to begin with. I'm not trying to reinvent the Swimming Nymph, just modifying to better suit my needs.

Improved Swimming Nymph
As useful and effective as the Swimming Nymph is, there's always been a few things missing in order to make it the perfect carp fly. One is size. A size 8 is fine for carping, but I'm talking more about bulk. The original is sleek and hackled; I want a big warm fuzzy for carp. That means rabbit and plenty of it, along iwth a chunky mid section. The next thing is weight, so adding bead chain will help get the fly down, as well as add to a broader profile in the water. The final element is rubber legs. I like the movement rubber legs give a carp fly, and so do the carp. Look at any killer carp fly and it comes equipped with rubber legs. You add in all those factors and the fly pulses, moves, breathes. Carp are very tactile when it comes to feeding, and since you lose the element of scent when fly fishing, profile and movement of the fly and the feel of a fly in the carp's mouth is what's gonna make the difference between a take and a snub.

Improved Swimming Nymph
I've tinkered with a few variations and finally came up with something that I feel will work best for carp. Rabbit tail, beefy dubbed body, large pheasant hackled thorax, rubber legs, large bead chain eyes, and a bushy rabbit throat. I still maintained the classic signatures of the original swimming nymph with peacock herl and rust colored body, and still maintain a similar gestalt to the profile of the original. I think I've found the right balance for an Improved Swimming Nymph.

Improved Swimming Nymph
Now it's only a matter of time to see what the carp think.


  1. I really enjoy looking at your variations. I was initially bummed by the fact that it rode with the peacock herl hidden below and added a heavy bead and weight, PC Herl tied as rode hook up and my legs were at the head. Mine are a size 8 2X long, but a light wire hook. I think yours are going to have me tinkering.