I’m finishing up a custom fly order which includes a few Copper Johns. Since I had all the materials out, why not tie up a few Copper Johns in different colors for me? I’m calling these my Copper John Rainbows.

Copper John Rainbows | www.johnkreft.com

The Copper John is the creation of John Barr. He started to create the fly in the early 1990’s and spent about three years refining it. The fly you know today as a Copper John was finished in 1996. Read about the full history and how to fish the fly in his book Barr Flies. It’s a great book and offers many variations to the Copper John theme along with several other creations. The book provides step-by-step tying instructions and detailed information about how to fish his flies. I’ve used the book as a resource for several years and keep going back to it!

Original Copper John
Copper John Nymph | www.johnkreft.com

After the original copper colored fly, other fly fishers encouraged him to tie it in red and green. That was only a start. What other colors you ask?

Besides red and green, how about black, blue, chartreuse, wine, silver, pink, copper brown, and zebra (black and silver)? These are the other colors he identifies in the book. Then there’s the fly pattern sheet for a Rubber Leg Copper John tied with black and olive wire. I should tie some of these up for a Green Drake hatch on a local river I know.

I use the original Copper John as a trailing nymph when fishing two nymphs under a strike indicator. Tie on a heavy nymph to the leader as the first fly, then tie 18″ of tippet to it’s bend with an Improved Clinch Knot. Attach your favorite Copper John color with another Improved Clinch Knot. This technique has been successful for me.

I tied a few in red and blue and gave them a try. And they worked!

Copper John – Red
Copper John - Red | www.johnkreft.com
Rainbow & Copper John - Blue | www.johnkreft.com

Remember my post about Purple Flies? I provided several popular fish-catching flies where purple is the central color. Ever since I wrote that post, I’ve been thinking about trying the Copper John with a purple body. I found the color wine, which is about as close as I can get. I haven’t fished it yet, but I already have confidence I will!

Copper John - Wine | www.johnkreft.com

And a couple more bright colors.

Copper John - Hot Orange | www.johnkreft.com
Copper John - Florescent Pink | www.johnkreft.com

So give the Copper John a try next time you decide to fish nymphs. And don’t be afraid to venture out in the color spectrum.

Enjoy…go fish!

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    1. Hi Bill – it looks like I used black thin skin and then a narrower pearl flashabou over the top of the black thin skin on all of them.


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