The Tellico Nymph


Two very recent experiences reminded me of this great old fly. Rick Blackburn, one of the premier flytyers of the Smokies and one of my first flytying instructors spoke at our TU meeting the other night and then I left and spent a week fishing with David Allerton from down in Florida. It's a fly that has been around for so long that no one is really sure anymore exactly how it got started. There is some speculation that it was derived from the even older "Yallerhammer" and other possibilities have been suggested as well. It is also the fly that started here in the Smokys, but has been exported more successfully than any other to elsewhere. Fly fishers anywhere that you go know what a Tellico is - or at least have a local version of it that is highly successful. So it's also a fly that haslots of different ways of being tyed. To give you some idea of how many ways there are to tie a "Tellico" I'm going to give you two differnt patterns for it this month, both very effective at catching fish. The first version is directly out of my notes from that first fly tying class with Rick Blackburn. It's a version that I've had a great deal of success with here in the mountains of East Tennessee. The second version is one that was developed by a friend and lover of fishing all over the Southeast - David Allerton. Just last week he and I were pulling fish after fish out of the Watauga over in North Carolina with his version. Both of these versions are called "Tellicos", both of these versions are great for catching trout in the mountains of the Southeast, but as you can see from the patterns and tying instructions they could almost be two very different flies.



Hook: #6 3X to #12 2X long hook (#8 3X long is "standard")
Thread: Dark Brown
Tail: Mink fibres or brown hackle fibres
Ribbing: 2 strands of peacock herl
Wing Case: Dark Brown turkey feather section
Body: Dirty golden-yellow dubbing
Hackle: Palmered through front half of body

Tying Instructions:

1. Cut a piece of dark brown thread about 6-8" long. Using the thread on your bobbin tie it onto the hook just behind the eye and then wrap it onto the hook all the way to the bend. Leave most of the piece of thread sticking out the back of the hook. This will be used to twist with the peacock herl for the ribbing to reinforce the herl.
2. Wrap "lead" wire around the hook starting at a position about 3/16 inch behind the eye to a place on line with the point of the hook. Wrap the bobbin thread around the wire to keep it form shifting.
3. Tie in a tail of mink hairs or brown hackle fibres about 2/3 shank length long.
4. Tie in two strands of peacock herl just above the tail.
5. Tie in 1/4 inch wide piece of turkey feather just above the tail.
6. Dub the body forward using a dirty golden-yellow dubbing to a point about 1/3 hook length behind the eye of the hook. Hare's Ear Plus Golden is a good color for this. The original dubbing was 90 %cottontail rabbit fur dyed golden with Rit Dye and 10% clear antron for sparkle.
7. Tie in the tip of a brown hackle feather at the point where you stopped dubbing.
8. Continue dubbing forward to just behind the eye of the hook, leaving room to tie in the ribbing, wing case, and to finish the fly.
9. Wrap the bobbin thread back through the dubbing to the point where the brown hackle feather was tied in.
10. Palmer the brown hackle feather forward to the end of the dubbing.
11. Palmer the thread forward through the palmered hackle to the end of the dubbing and tie off the hackle feather. Trim off the excess hackle feather.
12. Twist the brown thread that you earlier left dangling out the back of the hook with the peacock herl for strength and spiral them forward together as an open ribbing to the forward end of the dubbing. Tie off and trim the excess.
13. Grasp the turkey feather and pull it over the top of the body as a wing case. Tie it off just behind the eye of the hook and trim off the excess.
14. Whip finish and lacquer the head and turkey feather wing case.



Hook: Mustad 9761 or 2X Nymph hook #4-16
Thread: Yellow
Weight: A few turns of "lead" wire if desired
Tail: Several barbules of guinea breast feather
Ribbing: One or two strands of peacock herl
Wing Case: Four to eight strands of peacock herl
Body: Yellow floss
Collar: Brown hackle

Tying Instructions:

1. Start the thread just behind the eye of the hook and lay in a base of thread to the bend of the hook.
2. Wrap a number of turns of "lead" wire around the hook, centered on the hook if desired.
3. Wrap thread over the wire to secure it in place and form a body that is tapered so that it is fatter in the center and narrower at the tips.
4. Tie in several barbules of guinea feather as a tail approx. 1 times hook gap width in length.
5. Secure the peacock herl that will be used as both the ribbing and the wing case just in front of the tail with several winds of thread.
6. Secure the floss to be used to form the body just in front of the tail and wind the thread to the front of the hook.
7. Wrap the floss to the front of the hook forming the body of the fly. Note: Leave room behind the eye of the hook to tie off the ribbing, the wing case and to tie in the collar.
8. Take a couple of wraps of thread to secure the floss behind the eye of the hook and trim off the excess floss.
9. Spiral one or two strands of peacock herl forward in an open spiral to form the ribbing. Tie off with thread and trim the excess herl.
10. Grasp the remaining strands of peacock herl and bring them forward over the top of the body to form the wing case. Tie off with thread and trim the excess herl.
11. Tie in a soft brown hackle feather by it's tip and wind it around the hook just behind the eye to form a collar. Tie off and trim the excess hackle.
12. Whip finish.


1. Use softer material (grouse, partridge) or stiffer material (guard hairs) for the tail and collar to suit conditions. Stiffer material for faster water, and softer material for slower water. 2. The fly can be tyed either weighted or unweighted.
3. A darker colored thread can be used to form the "head" on the fly, but should not be used under the floss unless you want the color of the body to change.
4. There are other color variations that have been tried as well. I've seen green and pink, for example, but haven't personally tried them out.

Fishing the Fly:

This has proven to be a very effective fly on the mountain streams throughout the Southeast as well as on those tailwaters with good hatches. It can be fished either weighted or unweighted under a strike indicator or using short line nymphing technique. It the smaller sizes it is also excellent when fished under a dry fly as a dropper.