I’ve written blogs recently about trying the Euro nymph style of fly fishing rather than my normal nymph set up. I thought I’d provide my thoughts as I create an updated nymph fly box.

Bull Trout with Perdigon Nymph | www.johnkreft.com
Bull Trout with Perdigon Nymph

Several considerations go into my selection of nymphs I plan to carry – size, weight, profile, and color.

Size and weight kind of go hand in hand. Adding weight under the thorax or body will help your fly sink. So will bead head nymphs. Brass and tungsten beads are choices to help get your fly to the bottom. If you are fishing nymphs, most likely you plan to have your flies close to the river bottom. Size and weight help accomplish that goal.

The other consideration when thinking about size is how big is the actual insect? Many flies to imitate small mayflies might be in the 18 to 22 size range.

The weight of nymphs I use depends on where I plan to fish. I was fishing waste deep or shallower water recently and had great success with perdigon nymphs. These slim, tungsten bead head flies quickly sunk to the river bottom. Other times, a size 4 or 6 heavy weighted bead head stonefly nymph will get your fly to the bottom when fishing faster runs, riffle and pool water, or deeper eddies.

The nymph profile will depend upon the natural insect you plan to imitate. Mayfly nymphs can be slim or fat, depending whether they are small Blue Wing Olives and Pale Morning Duns, or a chunky Green Drake. Stoneflies, like the Golden Stone or larger Salmonfly, are much thicker in diameter.

Color is the last and what I consider the least important criteria. At times, fish may become very selective and color will be important. Also, water clarity may impact the selected nymph. Sometimes bright colored flies or beads may scare fish in very clear water. Other times, they are very effective. Note the perdigon nymphs that utilize fluorescent colors.

Those are the criteria I use when deciding which flies to carry in my nymph fly box.

I’ve written other posts suggesting nymphs to consider when developing your own fly box. These include:

There are so many flies to choose from. Culling it down to a manageable few is tough to do, but I’ll give it a try.

Here is a list of nymphs I plan to carry.

  • $3 Dip – This simple, but effective fly has been very good to me. I’ve caught fish everywhere I’ve used it. I like it in a size 16 with a bead head, but also use size 18 on occasion.
  • Rainbow Warrior – This is another very effective fly. I don’t know why, but it works. I carry it in a size 16 as well.
  • Lightning Bug – This nymph is similar to the Rainbow Warrior, but utilizes the fish-catching property of peacock. Size 16.

The next series of nymphs are new to me…perdigons. These three flies will find a welcome spot in my fly box.

How about some heavy nymphs to get your flies down in deeper water? Here are a couple stonefly nymphs I really like.

  • RiverKeeper Stonefly Nymph – I developed this fly as a variant to the Kaufmann Nymph. Using Thin Skin for the back is much more durable than traditional turkey. I carry these in a variety of sizes from 12 thru 4.
  • McPhail’s Golden Stonefly Nymph – I watched Davy McPhail tie something similar on his Youtube channel. I changed it slightly for my needs. The fly just spoke to me. I tied it on a Dai Riki size 6 hook. I’ll have to find a hook substitute as Dai Riki hooks seem to have vanished. I’ll look for a likely Daiichi equivalent.

Are there other nymphs I carry in a nymph fly box? Sure. The classic Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, and Copper John are certainly three other flies to consider. If your river has lots of midges, a Zebra Midge might be needed.You may have other favorite nymphs that have been effective.

I may not nymph fish often, but when I do, I plan to have these flies in my nymph fly box. Select 3 to 6 of each and you will have a well-stocked fly box.

Lastly, did you hear a quiet “hurrah” earlier this month? Well, RiverKeeper Flies celebrated it’s 5 year birthday. You have my wife to thank for my website. It was her idea initially. Seems amazing to me I’ve been writing blogs for 5 years! I have to say, that’s a lot of content and images.

To celebrate, I guess it’s time for another Subscriber drawing to thank you for coming on this journey with me. I’ll select one name at random in early April to win a dozen RiverKeeper Flies.

Enjoy…go fish!

Similar Posts


  1. John… your blogs have sure added to my fly fishing experience here in Central Oregon.. I’m glad I attended your tying classes, and followed your work. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us newbies to the area and others that just recognize good stuff when they see it. Best to you and Karen for another bunch of years on the blog and all that you do to promote fly fishing in this part of the world.

  2. Only fIve years – your website has been my ‘go to’ place for fly tying for what seems like forever! I really enjoy your weekly blogs and appreciate the effort that I know goes into them too. Well done and many thanks for your huge contribution to my fly fishing and tying knowledge John!


  3. Congrats on 5 years John! its been entertaining, useful, creative, and fun since I first logged on. Thank you.


  4. John wow five years many thanks for your wonderful insight to fly fishing information, you are my go to website for knowledge. Thanks so much for your blogs as I know it takes time away from your time on the Met. Hope to see you again on the Met. Dave Fisher, The Fisher Executive Group

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.