The Prince nymph has a distinctive pattern with several attractor elements that at the same time seem natural. Or dress it up in purple to get the psycho (killer) prince nymph. In any form, this nymph is hard for trout to resist.
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. All 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. Back then it was called the Forked Tail Nymph. It was popularized thereafter by western angler Doug Prince, whose name stuck with the fly. The Price has become one of the most effective and widely used patterns ever created. A close cousin to 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. Like “psycho killer” effective.
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, light 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.
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. Materials Sources
In all likelihood, you may already have some or all of the materials needed to tie a Prince Nymph and its variations. In case you need to fill in any gaps, here are several sources we recommend for quality materials, listed in the order you need them to tie the Prince. If we didn’t find or don’t recommend a particular material from a particular source, we’ve greyed out that option.
Cabelas / Bass Pro Shops
Wing Bud (Psycho)
6. Variations On Prince Nymph (with photo gallery)
Aside from the psycho / electric variation described above, try these:
Use smaller sizes to imitate a BWO or Caddis nymph.
Go larger and fish it as a stonefly nymph.
Add rubber legs to a streamer sized prince for steelhead.
Mix it up with other colors including dirty pink, light green or chartreuse, black, light blue, others.
For these variants, just change the underlying body color, nothing else is needed.
To see all photos in the gallery, use the right/left arrows to scroll:
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
8. 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: