Project Description

Bead Head Prince Nymph

Pattern Description:

The Prince Nymph was developed by Doug Prince in the thirties and in the past fifteen years or so has become a ‘go-to’ pattern for many anglers across the country. The addition of a brass or tungsten bead has made this fly even more popular and effective. The original fly was known as a Brown Forked Tail but has morphed into what I show here and is commonly accepted as a Prince Nymph today.
I tie the Prince (and any other fly with a bead) with lead wire shoved into the bead to add weight, hold the bead in place and center it on the hook.
I find the material selection to be very important when tying the Prince. Starting with the biot tails, I select biots from nearer to the tip of the feather, as they tend to be thinner and are easier to tie in than the biots at the base of the quill, which are wider and hard to tie along the sides of the hook. I also look for biots that have a good degree of natural curve to them to assist in the split tail look. Straight biots can be tied in correctly and still not look right, so look for biots with some curve.
I find that bushy, full peacock herl really lends itself well to this fly. Strung Peacock is fine as well as herls from the eyed quill as long as they are full fibered. I have been using a lot of dyed peacock for my Princes in bright green, purple and red and find it adds a nice, subtle touch of color on the finished fly.
For big Princes (#12 and bigger) I often use hen saddle feathers for the collar but find that on smaller flies a genetic hen neck is necessary to get the proper size.
Finally, for the white biot ‘horns’ at the head of the fly, I use the wider biots at the base of the feather as in this instance their width helps to hold them in place as you tie them down and adds durability.
I would be hard pressed to say exactly what the Prince imitates, but if I had to hazard a guess I would have to say a stonefly nymph. The biot tails are what lead me this way, but I’ve seen this fly work under so many different hatch conditions, from mayflies to caddis, that I think I would be safer to lump it into the attractor nymph category.

Materials Needed:

Hook: TMC 5262 #4-18
Thread: 6/0 or 70 Denier Black for sizes 4 through 14, 8/0 black for sizes 16 and smaller.
Bead: Brass or tungsten (tungsten beads are much heavier than brass, but also more expensive), generally in gold but the color is just a matter of personal preference. The size of the bead is also open to your own personal interpretation, but it can get a little confusing. I have listed a recommended bead to hook size chart below. Incidentally, when tying with a bead you still need to leave an eye length (index point) of space behind the bead so you have room to properly tie off the fly. The index point still exists; it’s just behind the bead, rather than the eye.
Tails: Brown goose biots, tied opposed.
Rib: Small gold oval tinsel
Body: Peacock herl, dyed if you like
Hackle: Mottled brown hen saddle for flies to #12, hen neck for #14s and smaller
Horns: White goose biots, tied flat over the body.

3/16″ bead- hook sizes 4-8
5/32″ bead hook sizes 8, 10 and 12
1/8″ bead-hook sizes 12, 14 and 16
3/32 bead-hook sizes 14, 16 and 18
5/64″ bead- hook sizes 18-22

Weight: Lead wire, sized appropriately for the hook. Again, with the chart.
.035- hook sizes 4 and bigger
.030-hook sizes 6 and 4
.025-hook sizes 6 through 10
.020-hook sizes 12 and 14
.015-hook sizes 14 and 16
.010-hook sizes 18 and smaller

Step 1

Place the bead on the hook and slide it up to the eye. Make about a dozen wraps of lead behind the bead.

Step 2

Break the ends off the lead and shove the wraps into the back of the bead. The lead adds weight and centers the bead on the shank. It also builds up the “neck” of the fly and allows for a more secure tie off upon completion.

Step 3

Start the thread behind the bead and build a taper from the bare shank up onto the lead wraps.

Step 4

Cover the lead and shank with an even layer of thread all the way back to the bend.

Step 5

Select two thin brown goose biots from near the tip of the quill. I like the thinner biots because they are easier to tie in along the sides of the shank. Wide biots try to curl around the hook when tied in and are a bear to keep straight. I also look for biots that have a good curve to assist in the tail splitting. Measure the biots against the shank so they are from one-half to two-thirds of a shank length long.

Step 6

Place the biots at the bend with the tie in point directly in-line with the thread and each biot on its respective side of the shank. I tilt both biots toward the near side of the hook. I have found that initially tying the biots in on the near side of the hook and letting the thread torque them into place is much easier than fighting with the thread torque and pulling what hair I have left out!

Step 7

Place a couple light turns of thread over the biots. They should be slightly canted to the near side.

Step 8

Pull down on the thread and let the torque pull the biots into position directly on top of the shank.

Step 9

The biots should have rolled to the top center of the hook shank resulting in the tail placement in the photo at right. It does take some practice to anticipate the distance that the thread will torque the tails, so if you’ve over or under-estimated, un-wrap the thread and try again. Stay with it, as once mastered, this technique makes biot tails a breeze.

Step 10

Wrap forward over the butt ends of the biots to secure them to the shank. I usually only wrap over the butts up to the back of the lead turns, and then clip the excess.

Step 11

Return the thread to just behind the bead and tie in a six-inch length of gold oval tinsel. Wrap back over the tinsel to the bend of the hook.

Step 12

Return the thread to just behind the bead and tie in five or six bushy peacock herls by their tips. I trim the tips straight across before tying them in to make it easier to catch all of them with the thread.

Step 13

Wrap back over the peacock to the bend of the hook and return the thread to the back of the bead once more. You should have a relatively smooth thread underbody at this point. Place a small drop of Zap-A-Gap on the thread underbody and smear it evenly from the back of the bead to the bend of the hook. This coating will adhere the peacock to the hook and result in much greater durability.

Step 14

You should have a very thin layer of Zap-A-Gap covering the shank. Too much and it will bleed through the peacock.

Step 15

Wrap the peacock forward from the bend to just behind the bead forming a thick, bushy body. Most of the taper comes from the lead wire and thread underbody, but you may want an extra turn or two of the peacock at the front edge of the body to fatten it up a little. Tie the peacock off at about a bead length behind the bead and clip the excess. Let the fly sit a few seconds before proceeding to allow the glue to set up.

Step 16

Spiral wrap the ribbing material forward over the body in five or six evenly spaced turns. Tie the ribbing off at the front of the body and clip the excess.

Step 17

Select a hen hackle feather, from the neck or saddle, depending on the size of the fly. Here, I have chosen a hen saddle feather for this larger fly. The hackle fibers can be equal in length to anywhere from one half to one whole shank length. Prepare the feather by stripping the fluff from its base and expose the quill. Tie the feather in by the butt end at the front edge of the body with the inside of the feather facing the body of the fly. Be sure to tightly secure the feather.

Step 18

Grasp the tip of the feather in a pair of hackle pliers and pull it up above the hook. Fold the hackle fibers back to the backside of the quill by dampening your fingertips and stroking them rearward. It helps to wiggle the fibers up and down a bit as you pull them back to really crease them into place.

Step 19

Wrap the hen feather forward with two or three turns forming a swept-back wet fly style collar. Tie the feather off at the back edge of the bead and clip the excess tip.

Step 20

Select a pair of white biots. Pick these from the base of the biot quill, as the biots are wider here and this will help with both securing them in place and their overall durability. Cross the white biots like scissor blades, with both curves down. Measure the biots from the front of the hackle collar to the base of the tail. It may take some maneuvering to get the intersection point to match the hook length. You want the biots to cross together at the front of the hook and the tips to be spread at the bend.

Step 21

Once the biots are properly measured, place them atop the hook and hold them down with your thumb and forefinger. Notice the intersection of the butts is precisely placed over the tie down point between the front of the hackle collar and the back of the bead. Make a few wraps of thread over the biots to secure them in place. I like to make a loose turn or two and then really get after it with the thread tension to secure them.

Step 22

Clip the excess butt ends of the biots as close to the hook as you can and build a smooth thread head over the stubs. Whip finish behind the bead and add a drop of head cement to the head.

Step 23

Finished fly, top view. Notice the length of the white biots, the length of the hackle collar and the length of the tail.