Published Jan 16. 2024 - 3 months ago
Updated or edited Jan 16. 2024

#32 Pheasantless PTN (Beadhead)

#32 Pheasantless PTN (Beadhead) tied by US tier Bob Petti

This article is part of the article Smallest Fly Page, and show details about one of the entries on that page.

Bob's notes

Pheasantless PTN (Beadhead) #32
Pheasantless PTN (Beadhead) #32
Hans Weilenmann

When I first received the invitation from Hans to join his "Small Fly Page" experiment, I had no idea how many people were involved, who was involved, or what was involved. I had a general sense that a #32 hook was small, but I had no idea how small. Then he posted a scan of the hook next to some pretty darn small Vince Marinaro midge hooks and a US dime. I held a dime up to my display only to find to my chagrin that the image was quite a bit larger than lifesize. That #32 hooks were not small, they were miniscule!

Then I saw a list of participants. A veritable who's who of fly tying, some online and some not. Holy smokes!!

My initial curiosity had turned into a full fledged panic. I had never tied anything smaller than a #22 TMC101, and only a few of those. I'm not what you would consider a small fly "afficionado" by any means. What was I getting myself into?!?

Fortunately for me, I came down with a nasty case of bronchitis and had something else to fret about for awhile, so my panic eventually subsided.

Just yesterday, I arrived home to find a letter from Denver. Knowing that Ms. Kreutzer was acting as proxy for Hans, I figured this was the hook delivery. I opened the letter to find ..... a letter.

I looked in the envelope. No hook.

"Oh no", I groan.

But then, I *CAREFULLY* unfolded the envelope over my counter, fully expecting the hook to fall free and get lost forever in my kitchen, but then I notice a tiny little scrap of paper with a piece of tape over the top and the mystery was revealed. Not wanting to remove the hook until necessary, I held the letter up to my kitchen light, trying to see the actual hook. There it is. I show it to my wife, and she is now starting to think we're all nuts.

That evening, after finishing up some other swap flies, I dig out my little Thompson A vise with the midge jaws. If ever my midge jaws would come in handy, I figured now is the time. Turns out I finally tied the fly on my Renzetti - but that's beside the point.

I get out a razor blade and surgically remove the paper covering the hook in Hans' letter. For better or worse (I haven't decided yet), my small scissors have slightly magnetic tips, so I touched them to the hook and removed it from it's protective sheath. I showed it to my wife and she remarks "What the heck are you going to do with that?!?" and I reply "I have no idea."

Carefully, I seat the hook in the jaws of my trusty Tommy and take a deep breath.

My first hurdle was a choice of thread. Since the smallest thread I have on hand is Uni 8/0, and that looks like Pearsall's Stout floss when held against the little hook, I knew tying thread was not an option. Somewhere tucked in my "Bins 'o Stuff" I had stashed a couple spools of Lagartun gold and silver wire - XX Fine. I recall this stuff being *REALLY* thin, so out to the garage I go.

I stripped off a good foot of wire to work with and found I could start a jam knot fairly easily. Using a pair of Thompson duplex hackle pliers to hold the wire when I needed both hands free was a big help.

Since I could not use the 8/0 thread as a tying thread, I figured I could use it as a body material. My first thought was to tie a soft hackle type fly, using the wire as thread and ribbing, the 8/0 thread as the body, and a turn of marabou as the hackle.

That didn't work. For one thing, I had a hard time finding marabou that didn't have barbules too long. For another, when I wrapped a single marabou barbs, it would break every time. I scrapped the soft hackle idea and thought I'd go with a nymph of some sort.

What better nymph to tie than a pheasant tail? Since I'm already using wire as the tying thread, it was the perfect candidate. "Honey, I shrunk Frank Sawyer".

So I marched out to the garage and plucked a few barbs from my pheasant tail, as well as a few from a blue and gold Macaw tail, and a couple other odds and ends.

I thought the Macaw would be exotic and different, and I tried that first, but it was immediately apparent that it was too thick for the hook and I could get but one or two wraps and no "fuzzies". Next I tried the ringneck pheasant tail barb. That worked, and I actually finished a fly with a body of a single pheasant tail barb with a gold wire rib and a two turn wire head.

"Ah ha!!!!!" I thought. I'm done.

It was late by then, so I put the fly away in a box to be sent to Hans and I went to bed.

But I couldn't sleep. I kept tossing and turning. I was mentally going over the note I was going to send to Hans describing what I had tied and how I tied it. I got to thinking how Sawyer's PTN had at least a tail, and it started to bug me. Could I really leave it at that?

10pm quickly turned to 1am and it was obvious that I wasn't going to be able to sleep, so I went downstairs and got out the fly and tools and a razor blade. Cutting through that wire was a challenge, and I was afraid I was going to ruin the hook, but finally I got the hook bare and was ready to try again.

What to use as a tail material? Certainly not pheasant tail, as that would be far too bulky. I happened to spy a spool of antron yarn and it struck me that I had a medium brown spool out in my tubs, so off I go again to the garage to retrieve it.

Removing two (or three, I couldn't quite see) Antron fibers from a length of yarn, I doubled them around the wire and tied them in. I also switched from pheasant tail, which was a bit bulky for that hook, to turkey marabou. Actually, it wasn't the marabou, but the flat stuff near the tip of a long mottled marabou feather. Not very fluffy, very fine, and quite fuzzy. I clipped three barbs of this feux-marabou and tied them in by the butts.

As I wound my wire thread down the hook shank, I wrapped over the Antron, leaving the tag extending beyond the hook bend to be clipped later. I then twisted the three strands of feux-marabou into a fuzzy rope and gently wrapped them back to the bend. I counter wrapped my thread through the fuzz to both tie it down and form a rib.

Then, being a little silly at such an unGodly hour, I decided instead of doing a simple two turn whip finish with the wire which would leave a tiny head up front, I thought I'd wind a big fat ball of wire and call the nymph a bead head. So it's not funny - sue me. I then trimmed the tail to length and the fly was done.

Thus concludes the story of the "Pheasantless PTN (Bead Head), size 32".

Materials for #32 Pheasantless PTN

Hook: Mustad 577 #32
Thread: Lagartun XX-Fine gold wire
Tail: Brown antron, four or five strands
Body: Turkey marabou-ish
Rib: Gold wire
Head: Gold wire wrapped to "bead" shape

Tier info

Bob Petti - Currently living in Endicott, NY which is located along the NY/PA border about an hour West of the Catskills. There's a tremendous diversity of fishing within day trip range of my home, so my tying habits are a bit on the eclectic side. My interests include steelhead and salmon wet flies, trout flies and streamers, and bass bugs.

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