Fly Tying the Copper John


This fly is an attractor pattern and could represent a midge pupa, may fly nymph, caddis larvae/pupa, or small stone fly nymphs.   The finished fly is quite heavy and sinks fast.   This fly can be tied in any colour combination.  Copper, Black, Chartreuse and Red are common colours that work on the Bow River. The fly is most effective when coupled with a dropper.  The Copper John will act as a weight bringing the flies to the bottom of the river. 


  1. Standard 10-18 Wet Fly Hook 
  2. 1/8" Gold Bead or sized to suite hook size
  3. Weighted Wire (20 mm)
  4. Black #8 Thread
  5. Brown Goose Biot Tail
  6. Medium Ultra Copper Wire
  7. Strands of Mother of Pearl Flashabou
  8. 1/8" strip of Black Thin Skin
  9. Peacock Herl
  10. Natural Partridge or Grouse Feather Barbs for Legs

 Tying Instructions  
 Copper_John_1.JPG Pinch the barb and move a gold bead to the eye of the hook.  Wrap weighted wire around shank of hook and push it into bead hole to centre the bead.   
 Copper_John_2.JPG Attach thread behind weighted wire and wrap up to bead to hold all nicely in place.  Wrap back and attach 2 brown goose biots for the tail.  Wrap forward to build up transition from weighted wire to hook shank.
 Copper_John_3.JPG Attach copper wire on top of shank and wrap the body to make a smooth taper.
 Copper_John_4.JPG Wrap the copper wire forward keeping them as close as possible without over lapping.  Copper wire should cover about 2/3 of the hook shank length.
 Copper_John_5.JPG Attach mother of pearl flashbou.  Keep it on top and centered.
 Copper_John_6.JPG Attach the black thin skin. Put a good layer of thread down to capture the thin skin.
 Copper_John_7.JPG Attach four strands of peacock herl and form a noodle by twisting it around the tying thread.
 Copper_John_8.JPG Form a good thorax by wrapping the peacock herl nice and tight.
Wrap the peacock herl right up to the bead.  Trap the herl with your thread.
 Copper_John_10.JPG Select about 8 barbs of natural partridge or grouse breast feather for each set of legs.
 Copper_John_11.JPG Tie the legs in so that they flow back along the thorax.  Wrapping the peacock herl right up to the bead will assist with this.  Otherwise, they will stick straight out.
Trim the legs and bury the excess with thread.
 Copper_John_12.JPG Bring the thin skin forward and trap it with the tying thread.  Fold it back over the fly body and again trap it with the tying thread.  Trim the thin skin. Taking this extra step ensures that the thin skin will stay in place.
Bring the pearl flashabou forward and secure it.  Use the tying thread to form a nice smooth transition to the bead head.  Use the same technique that was used on the thin skin to ensure that it is centered and is secured.
 Copper_John_15.JPG Mix up some 5 minute epoxy and, using a needle, carefully place a dab over the thin skin.  Draw the epoxy up to and touching the bead and the copper wire of the body.  If care is taken, this fly is virtually indestructible.