Ray Charles Nymph Step-by-Step

Ray Charles Nymph Step-by-Step:

In the world of streamside entomology, there’s little doubt that mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies stand above the rest.   Their ubiquitous boom-or-bust life cycles understandably garner the attention of fly anglers across the globe as we eagerly await that once-in-a-lifetime hatch.  From minute Tricos to massive Salmonflies, anglers are drawn to the feeding frenzies such hatches produce.

Such hatches are short-lived, however, and, in the life of a trout, represent only a small fraction of what they consume.  Throughout the rest of the year, these same fish are reliant on other sources of food.  And, while nymphs of the aforementioned insects certainly play a large role, other aquatic invertebrates, available at consistent levels throughout the year also play a large role.  In those systems where vegetation abounds, small aquatic crustaceans known as scuds and sowbugs often fill this role.

While a wide variety of patterns exist to imitate these crustaceans, few are simpler than the Ray Charles.  Requiring only three materials (beyond hook and thread), this pattern was created and popularized in Montana.  It’s name supposedly derived from a guide’s joke: even a blind man could catch fish on it.

1x-Long Nymph (#14-20) 70-Denier (Red) Materials Ultra Wire (Small; Gold)
Materials Ostrich Herl (Gray, Tan, Pink or Olive) Materials Flashabou (Pearl)

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Ray Charles Nymph Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:

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Tips and Tricks

  1. Color Selection – While Olive was used in the example above out of necessity, grays, tans and pinks should also hold a prominent place in your scud and sowbug assortment.
  2. Go Deep – Scud and sowbug patterns are most effective when fished near to the bottom. With that in mind, pair this pattern with a heavy point fly, split shot or sink-tip fly line.

Proof of Concept

Without a trout trip on the docket in the foreseeable future, this pattern may remain unproven for a while.  I’ll be sure to update as soon as the opportunity presents itself, however.  So be sure to check back…

Tight Line!


Species Caught on the Ray Charles to Date:

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