AP Turkey Tail
Dry Flies
Wet Flies
Flies for Panfish
Flies for Bass
Muskie/Pike Flies
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  • Hook:  Mustad R72, #16-12
  • Weight:  .015 lead wire
  • Thread:  Danville's Prewaxed 6/0, black
  • Ribbing:  fine copper wire
  • Tail:  wild turkey tail
  • Abdomen:  turkey continued from tail
  • Thorax:  peacock herl
  • Wingcase:  turkey continued from abdomen
  • Legs:  turkey continued from wingcase
  • Head:  brown dubbing (such as dyed beaver)
The A.P. series of nymphs created by Andre Puyans was the inspiration for this pattern.  This style uses the same feather or hair fibers for the tail, wingcase, and legs of the nymphs.  There is some variation in the series, but the principle is basically the same.  The butt ends of the fibers are used for the legs for a more robust look that better matches many species.  Mr. Puyans is no longer with us, but his work is certainly worth looking into and exploring.

The AP Turkey Tail uses the same wild turkey tail feather segment for the tail, abdomen, wingcase, and legs of the nymph.  The use of the same feather in the abdomen is a little different than the patterns in the original A.P. series, but when applied with mottled feathers such as turkey tail it creates a nice overall look and is a close match to many naturals.  This is accomplished easily with feathers that have very long fibers like those of the wild turkey tail.  Use different shades, dyed feathers, or even wild turkey wing and golden or ringneck pheasant tail for other variations.

The bent legs featured in the above photo is an added feature as well, and is probably more for the tier's enjoyment than the effectiveness of the fly.  This may be good for bottom-tumbling nymphs.  Otherwise, leaving the legs straight more closely imitates the swept-back profile of the naturals.

Other than that this pattern is tied pretty much like the originals.  I encourage you to research those and tie/fish them as well.

Tying Instructions:

1)  Secure the hook in the vise and wind on about nine wraps of the lead wire.  Make the wraps tight and use a fingernail to push the ends down smooth.  Slide the wire into the thorax area (on the front half of the hook shank... leave some space between the wire and the hook eye).
2)  In case it helps someone, I'm going to describe how I secure the lead wire.  Leaving a couple inches of thread for the tag end, secure the thread just behind the hook eye and wrap back to the lead wire.  Pull the tag end taught (in the photo this is the curved thread in front of the lead), then drape the tying thread lightly over the whole section of lead, bringing it to the far side of the hook behind the lead wire.  Immediately take several tight turns of the tying thread to secure.  This helps hold the lead wire in place.
3)  Lightly wrap the tying thread forward in wide open spirals (about three turns for this amount of lead).  Wrap back a little tighter in narrower spirals.  Continue back and forth for about six or eight times, each time using a bit more tension and closer wraps.  This, along with the diagonal drape of the thread in step 2 helps prevent the thread from sneaking down into the lead wraps and separating them out of place.

Clip the tag end of the the thread.  Coat the wraps with cement and wrap the tying thread back to just past the hook point.

4)  Clip a section of copper wire about three inches long (or shorter if you can manage... you may also prefer to spool your wire).  Place the wire against the shank on the far side diagonally so the end is below the shank.  Take several wraps of the tying thread forward, allowing it to twist the wire slightly as it lashes it to the shank.

Bring the thread back to the bend.

5)  The trouble with using turkey tail (or wing, or goose, and some others) for nymph tails is that they tend to "stick" together rather than splaying out like the naturals.  To correct this, we can use some dubbing... the thread pulls the fibers down into the dubbing, at the same time propping up the ends and separating them. (You can see the effects of this below in step 6.)

Apply a very small amount of brown dubbing to the thread and wrap this onto the shank right at the bend.  Be careful not to overdo it here!

6)  Clip a section of turkey tail from the feather.  As for how much, I generally clip a section that is equal in width at the feather stem to the length of the hook shank.  If, after tying in the fibers the tail looks too full, go ahead and trim away a few fibers as is done on the dubbed-abdomen A.P. nymphs.  Even up the tips by bending the segment, then stroking the fibers toward the clipped end to straighten them out.
The tail should be about equal to the hook gap or slightly longer, so measure for length then tie the turkey to the top of the hook shank right over the dubbing (to splay the fibers). Take three more tight turns right over the first to secure.  Lift the butt ends and wrap the thread forward to just behind the lead wire, or half way up the shank.
7)  Carefully wrap the turkey tail forward in the opposite direction that you wind the tying thread (counter-wrap)... this is important to make a more prominent ribbing. You could wrap the turkey normally and counter-wrap the wire instead, but I find it easier and more secure to tie down the wire ribbing if it is wound in the same direction as the tying thread so I counter-wrap the turkey.

Cover the tying thread at the bend on the first wrap, then try to keep the fibers together on each successive wrap.  Overlap the wraps as necessary to build a smooth taper (fatter as you go forward).  When you get to the tying thread if you simply tie it down, the fibers will be misaligned for the wingcase and difficult to readjust.  So instead, do this... 


Tightly hold the turkey fibers up.  Bring the tying thread up, go around the far side of the turkey (parallel to the hook shank), then down behind the turkey to the near side of the hook.  In other words, take a turn around the turkey fibers only, not the hook shank, in a counter-clockwise direction if looking down on it, and leave the thread on the near side of the hook.  This reverses the direction of the tying thread.

Maintain your hold on the turkey fibers.  Pull the thread tight and take two more tight turns around the turkey fibers only, then leave the thread in front of the turkey on the far side of the hook.  This again reverses the thread direction back to the original.  Take a couple tight wraps back against the turkey "post."

This may be hard to visualize or follow on the first try, but once you get it, you'll see what I mean.  This technique can be useful on other patterns as well.


8)  Wind the copper wire ribbing forward in a close open spiral.  Keep in mind you're creating insect segmentation.  You should get five or six wraps before you get to the wingcase post.  Take a couple turns in front of the wing case, then tie the wire down with several wraps of thread and clip the excess.  Carefully wrap over the clip end so it doesn't sever the tying thread later.
9)  Select three or four full peacock herls.  Pull on the tips to break the off at their weak spots, then even up the tips.  Stroke the herls backward to make the fibers stand out from the stem and tie the bundle in by the tips.  Leave the tying thread just in front of the wingcase post (at the rear of the thorax).
Hold the herls together fair tightly (be careful not to break them off) and twist them to form a single "rope."  I use hackle pliers for this, clipping the herls near the butt ends and twisting them until the stems are barely visible near the fly.  Take one turn of the herl rope behind the tying thread, then continue forward in front of the thread.  As you wrap this rope forward twist some more after every other wrap to tighten up the rope.  Wrap forward almost to the eye, then back over the previous wraps to the rear of the thorax.  Take one turn behind the tying thread, then take two tight turns of the tying thread to secure it in place.  Tightly spiral the thread forward through the herl.  Take a couple tight turns.  Clip the excess herl close to the thorax.  Securing the herl at the rear and winding the thread though it secures and reinforces it well, and minimizes the thread build-up at the head area.
10)  To form the wingcase, pull the turkey tail fibers down, pinching and "rolling" them to spread them out just enough to make the bundle flat and wide.  Make sure there are no gaps between the fibers.  Take a couple loose turns of thread as you hold the fibers taught. (tip: don't pull the wingcase too tight- allow a little bit of give to provide the right profile, and for a little cushioning against sharp trout teeth) 
Pull on the tying thread to tighten it up.  Check the wingcase for position, making sure it is centered, wide, no gaps, etc.  If all looks well, take two more tight turns rearward to secure.  Do not clip the excess!
11)  Separate three fibers on either side and pull them back.  Hold these in position and take three or four turns to secure, taking care to keep them from moving to the top or bottom of the fly with the thread torque.  Clip the rest of the excess fibers close.
Trim the fibers on either side about halfway into the abdomen.  (consult the photo at right- the green arrow is about where you want to trim.
12)  They A.P. series features a dubbed head that matches the luster and color scheme of the body, rather than a glossy thread head.  Apply a little dubbing to the thread, about half an inch along the thread, take one turn, then leave any remaining dubbing on the thread as you tie a four or five turn whip finish knot.  Clip the thread.
13)  In the original A.P. series, this is all that's necessary for a nice, well-shaped fly with legs that sweep back along the body as the fly is fished.  All that's left to do is cement the wingcase and thread wraps behind the dubbed head.

But if you want to get a little fancy...

14)  Bend the legs on one side all at the same time, either by holding at the tips and pushing into the fly, or folding them over a needle placed halfway along the legs.  Do the same to the other side.
15)  Bending the legs is good for picky fish and impressing your friends.  It helps give the fly a "buggier" look for imitating drifting clinger/crawler nymphs.  If you plan to fish these with an active retrieve or during a hatch where nymphs are swimming about, leave the legs straight... they can always be mussed up on-stream.
16)  Cement the wingcase and thread wraps and you're finished. 

Be sure to try other materials and various sizes for different looks and hatch-matching.  Also, peacock herl in the thorax looks nice and works well, but dubbing can also be used, as it is in the the original A.P. nymph series.




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