The Peacock Dragon
**Featured in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Northwest Fly Fishing**
I enjoy fishing trout lakes, and one of the most reliable food forms available is the dragonfly nymph. Available nearly year-round, it is wise for the fly angler to carry at least a few of these patterns at all times.
There are many dragonfly patterns – some incredibly realistic – that look wonderful in the vise. However, in the water they often come up short because of a “wooden” or stiff appearance. In short, they fail to adequately imitate life. Dull and lifeless are not good features in a fishing fly!
My goal was to develop an effective dragonfly nymph imitation that incorporated the appearance of bulk – like the natural – yet shied away from the use of hard and lifeless materials.
So what to do? I sought materials that would give shape to the body – particularly the exaggerated body width characteristic of dragonfly nymphs. I found my answer in using the green-phase body feathers of the peacock.
These feathers have a wonderful sheen to them, and they are mottled in the colors of tan, brown, and olive – a perfect blend for this nymph! Now for tying the fly and applying these special feathers.
I use a sturdy 2-3 XL nymph hook in sizes ranging from #4-8. Begin by applying strips of weight (.020-.030 depending on hook size) to either side of the shank. You may then tie in a short “tail” of pheasant tail fibers extending slightly beyond the hook bend, though I have recently been omitting this step with no ill effect on the fly’s performance.
Apply a brown/olive spiky dubbing (seal, SLF, goat) about 1/3 up the shank. Select two of the green peacock body feathers to be applied in on the top and bottom of the shank, sandwiching the shank between them. Make sure they lie flat, parallel to each other, and extend slightly beyond the hook bend. The bottom feathers have the shiny side facing down, the top feathers have it facing up.
(Side Note: Technique for setting the peacock feathers)
Two soft wraps hold the feather in place, then pull it forward to position it allowing a few fibers to be pulled underneath the thread wraps. This aligns the feather on the shank and allows for a slight flaring at the tie-in point.
Continue to apply dubbing for the next 1/3 section of the shank. Apply another set of peaock feathers in the same fashion as the previous set. These should be slightly wider than the first ones, as we want the body to increase in width at this point. The length of the feathers should reach about halfway back of the rear feathers.
Repeat the application of two feathers top and bottom one more time, again using slightly wider feathers than the previous set.
Attach a clump of pheasant tail fibers at the tie-off point for the body feathers and bind it down as you wrap forward to the eye. Leave this wingcase material extending out over the eye for the time being.
Cut a strip of black Furry Foam approximately ¼” wide and 1″ long. Bind to the hook in a perpendicular manner 1/8″ or so back from the eye. Use “Figure 8” wraps to secure the foam, then move your thread back to the tie-in point of your wingcase fibers (rear of the thorax).
Attach a piece of rubber leg material (I like brown Super Floss) or a small clump of pheasant tail fibers on either side and wrap forward to the furry foam, securing the remaining leg material as you go. Leave it extending out over the eye for the moment
Apply a peacock or similar colored dubbing throughout the thorax area. Wrap through and around the foam eyes and a take a couple of turns in front of them as well. Dub your way back to the leg tie-in point. As you do this, bind the extended rubber leg material back so that they now are roughly parallel to the first set. Make a few wraps of dubbing in between the front and rear legs for separation.
With the thread now at the rear of the thorax, pull back the pheasant tail wingcase fibers and secure it with a couple of snug wraps. Tie off at this point. Trim the Furry Foam just wider that the thorax to complete the eyes.
You now have a soft and lifelike imitation to fish. The body feathers will compress a bit when worked through the water, and the colors will blend into a very natural dragonfly nymph appearance.
The “breathing” action contributes to the effectiveness of this pattern. The use of soft materials may also give the fish less reason to expel the fly before you feel the hit and set the hook.
I developed this pattern to fish the excellent stillwater trout fisheries of the Pacific Northwest. Try the Peacock Dragon on your favorite lake and see what it can do for you!
Peacock Dragon Recipe
Hook: 2-3 XL nymph, #4-8
Thread: Brown 8/0
Weight: .020-.030 applied in strips on both sides of the shank
Tail (optional): Short stub of natural pheasant tail fibers
Abdomen Dubbing: Olive-Brown seal or substitute
Abdomen: Six green peacock body feathers applied and bottom of the hook shank in three sets. Forward sets of feathers larger than rear.
Wingcase: Clump of pheasant tail fibers
Eyes: Section of black Furry Foam, trimmed to size
Legs: Olive or Brown Super Floss or suitable rubber leg material
Thorax: Bronze synthetic peacock dubbing