The Tellico Nymph
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.
BLACKBURN TELLICO NYMPH
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
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
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
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
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.
DAVID'S TELLICO NYMPH
Hook: Mustad 9761 or 2X Nymph hook #4-16
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
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 ½ 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
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
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.
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