RTV Nymph Material Recipe:
Hook: Hanak 450BL Superb Jig Hook Size 10-16
Bead: Gold, Copper, or Black
Wire: Match Size To Hook Diameter (4-8 wraps)
Thread: Veevus Brown 14/0
Tail: Red Antron Tag
Rib: UTC Small Copper Wire
Body: Sybai Fine Alpaca & UV Flash Blend – Brown
Hackle: Cookshill Fly Tying English Partridge Skin
The “Red Tag” is a classic fly pattern that originated in England around 1850 from Martyn Flynn. The “Red Tag” is extremely versatile because it’s characteristics allow it to be fished in nearly every application including moving water and still water. Although the fly was originally tied for grayling, the “Red Tag” has been proven successful on a variety of species. I discovered the “Red Tag” when I was on the US Youth Fly Fishing Team in 2007 while searching for lake patterns. After some adjustments, I ended up with a Red Tag Variation (RTV) that has become a huge confidence pattern in my nymph box.
Frequently I sit down to tie a dozen flies of a particular pattern. Sometimes I end of with a half dozen of that particular pattern, and a half dozen “try me” variations. It usually starts out with a thought similar to “This looks good, but maybe better with this material instead”, followed by “And maybe I’ll change that material with this”, and then “And if I just add some of this, and take off some of that”. Next thing you know, you end of with something you didn’t really intend to tie. More times than not the “try me” patterns become lost and forgotten, but occasionally they come in to save the day.
Later in 2007, I was fishing on the Little Juniata River and the RTV Nymph was a day saver for me. That year the RTV Nymph became one of my favorite flies for larger rivers with an abundance of larger mayflies. This fly could be modified to fish the smaller spring creeks, but my favorite application of the pattern is in larger sizes from 10-14. This fly is dynamite on all types of wild trout, and is equally effective on stocked trout. The success of this variation was validated even more when I was fishing competitions in 2013. I caught at least one fish on this fly in every single competition I fished that year. The RTV Nymph has become a huge confidence pattern of mine that is prevalent in my fly box at all times.
There are several things to keep in mind while sitting down to tie this fly. I tend to use a gold and copper beads more than not, however, when water conditions become very low and clear I use a black bead exclusively. A very important feature of this fly is the sparse soft hackle. Keeping the soft hackle sparse gives the fly the perfect amount of “wiggle”, trout find this hard to refuse. I think it could be argued that soft hackles are vastly underrated in general, but that’s a discussion for another day. I have tied the tag in multiple colors to find success with orange, pink, and chartreuse as well, however, red is my standby because it seemed to be the best day in and day out.
This fly is simply a new spin on existing patterns, as most flies are. It has caught many fish for me over the years and I hope that it is just as successful for you. Tight wraps!
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*Note: Many of the materials above are available at PerformanceFlies.com
More background information on the original Red Tag can be found at The Global FlyFisher .