Learn how to tie the Casual Dress Nymph, including step-by-step instructions, a video tutorial, pictures, and much more. Improve your fly-tying skills here.

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One of those flies that doesn’t quite look like any specific forage while somehow being able to imitate anything from a mayfly or stonefly to a caddis, the Casual Dress Nymph is an excellent searching pattern whether you’re hitting a freestone stream in the middle of spring or a tailwater on a cold winter’s day. Designed by Polly Rosborough in the year 1960, he stumbled on this creation after experimenting with some Muskrat Fur and Ostrich–after a quick trip to the Deschutes River, he found that this fly was incredibly effective and dubbed it the “Casual Dress Nymph.” The Casual Dress is an easy fly to tie, and through its use of natural materials, provides just the right amount of movement. Tie it small, large, or somewhere in between, you can fish this fly all year long in both moving and stillwater environments. 

Material list:

Step One

Begin winding your thread onto the hook shank with a jam knot. You want to leave about two eye lengths of space behind the eye whenever you start your thread. 

Step Two

Select a bunch of Muskrat Fur and remove the underfur, leaving mostly guard hairs for the tail of your fly. 

Step Three

Step 3. Measure out your tail to be roughly 3/4s the length of the hook shank. Tie it in just before the bend of the hook, and instead of cutting the excess out, wrap your thread forward to the initial tie-in point–doing it this way will ensure that you have a smooth body on your fly.

Step Four

Take the Muskrat underfur that you removed from your tail section and dub it onto your thread. Once it’s applied to your thread, wrap it forward to your initial tie-in point. As you progress forward on the body, you want to introduce a bit of taper to the body. 

Step Five

Create a dubbing loop with your thread, apply dubbing wax, then cut a bunch of fur off of a Pine Squirrel Zonker Strip and insert it into the Swiss CDC Multi Clamp or a similar tool before putting it into your dubbing loop.

Step Six

Spin your dubbing loop and begin wrapping the collar of the fly. It helps to stroke the fibers in the dubbing loop rearward while wrapping in order to form a clean collar. 

Step Seven

Once you’ve wrapped your collar, sweep the fibers rearward and create a small thread dam to angle the fibers towards the tail of the fly.

Step Eight

Select a Hungarian Partridge Feather that’s slightly longer than your Pine Squirrel strip collar and tie it in on the top of the hook. Applying dubbing wax to your thread can help lock the feather in.

Step Nine

Take a few turns with your Partridge feather, tie it off, and then trim the excess. If the fibers of your feather look a bit unruly, create a small thread dam to hold them back, just like you did with the Pine Squirrel collar.

Step Ten

Just like we did with the collar, create a dubbing loop with your thread, apply dubbing wax, then cut a bunch of fur off of a black Pine Squirrel Zonker Strip and insert it into the Swiss CDC Multi Clamp or a similar tool before putting into your dubbing loop.

Step Eleven

Spin the dubbing loop, then wrap the loop to form a head. Traditionally, black Ostrich Herl is used for the head, but we find that using a dubbing loop adds additional movement to the fly. 

Step Twelve

Build up a small head with your thread, then whip finish, cut your thread off, and apply head cement. 

Your Casual Dress Nymph is now ready to be drifted through the next series of riffles that you find yourself in.