Tying a Copper John Fly: a Quick and Easy Guide

the copper john fly
Tying a Copper John Fly is simple with proper instruction and materials.

Copper John Fly Materials 

  1. Hook: Mustad 2X nymph hook size 18-10
  2. Bead:  Gold colored or tungsten for weight. Sized to fit hook.
  3. Thread: Black 6/0 or 8/0 Uni-thread
  4. Tail: Brown or black Goose biots 
  5. Abdomen: Small copper or colored wire  
  6. Thorax: Peacock herl
  7. Wingspan: Pearl colored Flashabou or Krystal flash
  8. Legs: Partridge

Instructions for Tying a Copper John Fly 

  1. Slide bead onto hook. Wrap thread back to bend. 
  2. Tie in goose biots, forked one on each side of hook. 
  3. Tie in copper wire and wrap forward 2/3’s of the hook toward the eye keeping wraps tight and secure. Copper wire comes in a variety of colors so experiment; find the color that works for you.
  4. Tie in flash material.  
  5. Tie in Peacock herl. 
  6. Wrap the herl several times around the hook to form the thorax and secure. 
  7. Pull flash material over thorax and secure. 
  8. Tie in a few fibers of partridge on each side for the legs, and secure, make several wraps of thread in front of legs and behind bead, secure and whip finish.
  9. Place a drop of quick dry epoxy or soft-tex on the wing case and let dry.

How to Fish the Copper John

Spring Conditions

Spring is a great time for nymphing with copper john fly patterns. Water temperatures are on the rise, fish are coming out of their sluggish cold winter state and are on the feed looking for that easy meal rolling on the bottom. Fishing a double nymph rig with the Copper John as the bottom fly can be a deadly combination.

Different Fly Fishing Techniques

This fly has proven itself over and over to be one of the all-time best nymphs.  Fish it up stream, dead drift on the bottom or just off the bottom using an indicator. Finish your drift by letting the fly swing.  When the water temperatures finally rise and the fish are looking up , you can fish the Copper John in or just below the surface film, using the dropper method. Tie on a dry fly, and off the dry fly hook tie on your tippet (sized accordingly) 16-20 inches and tie on the Copper John. Use the dry fly as your indicator.

I’m sure the copper john fly will find a home in your already loaded nymph box.

Original Article By Brad Berlin

About The Author

Brad Berlin has been tying flies and fly fishing many of the local streams in the northeast and especially central  Pennsylvania for over 20 years.  He guides on area streams and the Susquehanna River.  Brad teaches classes in fly tying and casting.  Brad enjoys fishing the tributaries of Lake Ontario in the fall.

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