Categories: Fly Tying

The Prince Nymph & Psycho Prince

The Prince nymph has a distinctive pattern with several attractor elements that at the same time seem natural – all together, this nymph is hard for trout to resist.

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1. About The Prince Nymph

The Prince Nymph, especially the bead head prince, is one of the most-used attractor flies on the planet.  It has a distinctive pattern with several attractor elements that at the same time seem natural – gold ribbing, bright white biots, soft-hackle-like appearance, and bright bead.  Together, this attractor is hard for trout to resist.  Many anglers carry the Prince in multiple sizes, with and without bead head.

The Prince originated with the Minnesota brothers Don and Dick Olson, back in the 1930’s no less and then called the Forked Tail Nymph.  It was popularized thereafter by western angler Doug Prince (who it was obviously named after).   The pattern has become one of the most effective patterns ever created.

A close cousin variation on the Prince is the Psycho Prince, also known as the Electric Prince.  Just add purple, and “wha-la” you have the Psycho Prince.  No one knows why purple works, but just like the Purple Haze and the Purple Adams, it just does.

The Psycho Prince takes the attractor features of the regular prince to another level, by adding the intriguing purple color to the already attractive gold ribbing, bright white biots, bead head, and soft hackle like appearance.  And of course, additional colors patterns have evolved including dirty pink, green (thought by some to emulate a caddis nymph), black, blue, and others.  For these variants, most of the fly is unchanged, except for the underlying body color.

2. When and How To Fish It

Fish the Prince exactly as you would a natural nymph imitation, using the following techniques:

  • We like to use this nymph primarily with a bead head, which gives it more attraction and weight.
  • However, we also deploy it without a bead head, usually as a dropper.
  • If you rig it as a double nymph, use a less noticeable fly behind this one (attractor used to bring trout closer to see a more natural pattern), on a slightly thinner tippet so you don’t lose both flies if the dropper breaks off.
  • Dead drift by itself, or ideally as a 2nd wet fly off a Wooly Bugger, or dropper large dry such as a Chubby Chernobyl.
  • The Prince itself is universally effective.  What we’ve found with the Psycho nymph, is that it works really well on some streams, and not at all on others.  So, figure out which type of river you are fishing.
  • Use a tungsten bead variant as an effective Euro-nymphing fly.

3. Tie It, or Buy It?

For fly tying, this is an lower-intermediate level fly.  The tying skills and materials are straightforward, but be sure to pay close attention to the position and proportions of the tail and biots.  As a smaller fly, it has less room for error than the larger attractors and streamers.

It requires a range of skills and several different materials, so for beginners is a good one to challenge yourself to move to intermediate level.  For experts, there are a few variations to consider (especially different color psycho patterns), but this fly is mostly one to tie a bunch in different sizes to be ready for stream-side and save yourself a little money instead of purchasing.

Related Article: 101 Proven Patterns – The Best Flies For Trout

.4. Basic Prince Nymph Fly Tying Recipe Card

Here’s the basic pattern, which is universally used or close to it by most fly shops:

  • Hook: 1 – 2 XL wet or nymph hook, usually sizes 10 – 16, sometimes smaller
  • Bead: gold bead to fit the hook, such as Cyclops, or tungsten bead for euro-nymphing
  • Weight: lead-free narrow to medium diameter weight wire
  • Thread: 6/0 Danville’s 70-denier Flymaster (or comparable)
  • Tail: goose biots, brown stripped
  • Ribbing: we like gold wire (e.g. Ultra-Wire) or gold oval tinsel
  • Body:  peacock herl, long strung
  • Collar: soft hackle such as brown hen neck, or equivalent
  • Wing: goose biots, bright white stripped
  • Head:  UV Ice Dub, black

And of course we want you to have the Psycho Prince recipe as well, mostly the same as above except as noted:

  • Body:  UV Ice Dub, purple colored (or other colors you may like such as green, blue, dirty pink, yellow)
  • Rib:  copper or amber or gold wire
  • Wing bud:  yellow Z-lon or Antron yarn

5. Variations On The Prince Nymph

Aside from the psycho / electric variation described above, try these:

  • Use to imitate a BWO or Caddis nymph, in the smaller sizes
  • Go larger and fish it as a stonefly nymph
  • Add rubber legs to a streamer sized prince for steelhead.

6. How To Tie The Prince Nymph

For a great close-up step-through of how to tie the Prince Nymph, check out this quality video by Charlie Craven.  To tie the psycho nymph, follow the same pattern just with materials per the recipe card above.  

Bead Head Prince Nymph by Charlie Craven

6. Buy It – One Of The Best Flies For Trout

If you prefer to purchase, here are a couple options for you, first for the traditional prince:

And for the Psycho Prince:

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Next Article: Fly Tying For Beginners – 3 Steps To Start Under $100


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