Copper John

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The Copper John was originated by John Barr a well known fly tier and fly fisherman.  John wanted a pattern that could be used in swift water.  He was looking for a pattern that contained many of the elements of a good fly, yet he was looking for something that got to the bottom quickly.  The bead head, wire body and bead of epoxy all give this fly weight and determines it sink rate.


Hook:Mustad 9671 or equivalent sizes 10 - 16Copper John
Thread:8/0 Black
Tail:Brown Goose Biots
Body:Copper Wire (Copper, Red and Chartreuse suggested)
Weight:Copper Bead to size of hook
Thorax:Peacock herl
Legs:Pheasant tail fibers
Wing Pad:Mylar Tinsel covered with a drop of epoxy


Tying Instructions

  1. Slide the bead over the barb of the hook so that the large hole side faces the bend
  2. Mount the hook in the vise.  Make two or three turns of lead wire around the shank.  Slide the lead into the bead.  Start the thread and secure the lead inside the bead.
  3. Using the thread attach the copper wire and secure the wire with the thread to the bend of the hook.  Return the thread to the middle of the hook.
  4. Make one or two turns of wire around the hook at the bend (the turns will be used to separate the tail).
  5. Mount the tail along each side of the hook shank.  Secure the tail against the one or two turns of wire.  The tails should be divided as they lie along the hook and wire.  Return the thread to a point where the thorax will be tied in.
  6. Wind the wire along the shank to form the body of the fly.  Tie off the wire at the point where the thorax will start.  Clip the wire.  Bring the thread forward to a point near the bead.
  7. Tie in a piece of mylar tinsel at the eye.  Secure it back to the end of the wire body with the trailing end towards the bend.  (This will be pulled over the thorax.)
  8. Tie in pheasant tail fibers with the ends hanging over the eye of the hook.  (These will be pulled back to form legs.)  Clip the pheasant tail fiber butts at the mylar.
  9. Tie in one or two strands of peacock herl.  Wrap the peacock herl from the mylar to the eye of the hook to form the thorax.  Tie off and clip.
  10. Separate the pheasant tail fibers, pulling a bunch to each side of the hook towards the bend and tie them down to form legs.
  11. Bring the mylar over the peacock herl to form the wing pad.  Tie down, whip finish and cement, if desired.  Trim the pheasant tail legs to size.
  12. Mix a small patch of 5-minte epoxy (Epoxy all flies tied at once).  With a tooth pick add a drop of epoxy on top of the mylar to give an opaque appearance.  Let dry.  Turning the fly on a wheel will keep the epoxy from running.  (Be careful not to use too much epoxy or it will run onto the peacock herl.)



The Copper John can be tied using various shades of wire.  The colors red, black or chartruese are especially effective.  Variations of the tail include pheasant tail fibers or hackle.  (The V-notch hackle method looks good.  The legs can be imitated by using pheasant tail breast fibers or other soft hackle.


Fishing Techniques

The Copper John is usually fished using an indicator and shot (if necessary). It can be fished very deep using a sinking line when the depth or speed of he water calls for getting down deep and fast.  Because of it's weight, it can also be used as the top fly in a two fly rig.  Whether fishing with or without an indicator the beauty of this fly is that it is heavy and will sink quickly.