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Coachline Nymph by Nick Thomas

By Pete Tyjas on 21st January 2019

Tags: fly culture magazine, fly fishing, fly fishing magazine, fly tying, grayling fishing, grayling flies

Painting the coachline is the last operation in the completion of a Rolls Royce. Apparently they have one guy whose sole job is painting the narrow accent line along the bodywork. He must have a very steady hand; at £250,000 and upwards, the car is complete when he dips his squirrel hair brush in the special paint. Any slip of the wrist or tremble in the fingers would prove very expensive. The specially formulated paint bonds to the paintwork immediately, so there’s no question of reaching for a rag and a dab of white spirit and starting again.

The Coachline nymph doesn’t need anything like such a steady hand. It’s a simple tie using just three materials and makes a very effective grayling fly for autumn and winter. Tying in the floss with wraps of transparent body glass allows the pink to show through as a coachline along the underside of the nymph as it fishes.   

Hook Jig hook size 10-16

Bead Slotted black tungsten 5-3mm 

Thread Veevus olive 12/0

Abdomen Hends olive body glass

Coachline & Tail Pink floss

Thorax Olive squirrel dubbing

  1. Run on the tying thread behind the bead, take down to the bend in touching turns and back up.
  2. Tie in a length of body glass flat side down, bind down to the bend and bring the thread back to behind the bead.
  3. Cut a length of floss, fold in half around the thread and tie in at the bead slot.
  4. Make one turn of body glass around the shank, pull back and twist the two strands of floss together and secure the twisted floss along the top of the shank with touching turns of body glass.
  5. Tie off the body glass in the bead slot, stretch and trim off the excess.
  6. Dub a small thorax, smear the thread with varnish and whip finish.
  7. Trim the tail to length.

My autumn and winter fly box always has a number of Coachlines in different sizes and bead weights. The heavier ones go on the point and the smaller ones are used either on a dropper with another heavy nymph on the point, or if I feel like doing some casting instead of short line nymphing, I’ll tie one on under a dry fly.


It’s a good fly for when there’s some colour in the water. I’ve had a lot of that lately. The river has been running high for weeks. One morning after a couple of days without rain I figured the level had dropped just enough to make a short session worth a shot. The sun was just coming over the trees as I crossed the bridge by the railway station and turned to walk upstream. I wound my way along the bank heading to one of the good grayling spots where a fast run slows into a long pool over a gravel bottom. 

As I looked upstream, it looked like another angler had beaten me to the spot. I walked on through a clump of trees wondering whether to go have a chat or carry on for a bit. As I came out of the woods and closer to the fallen willow trees on the edge of the river, I very nearly had a wader filling accident. What I’d taken to be an early angler now looked very much like a body hanging in the overhanging branches. Once the initial shock and possibility of having to disinfect my waders had passed, I scrambled down through the tree roots to the water’s edge for a closer look.

The body turned out to be a tattered set of one-piece overalls snagged in the willow branches by the arms with the legs and wafting back and forth in the current eddies. I’ve come across a lot of odd things while wandering up and down the Taff and I’ve hooked a pretty eclectic selection of rubbish in my time too. That’s what I’ve come to expect from fishing an urban river, but getting the crap scared out of me just isn’t what I wanted to start a restful day out.

I sat on the bank and had a cup of coffee to calm down and then fished up the run. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of grayling that the heavy beaded Coachline on the point took from the deep water. I did wonder as I walked up to the next pool whether the boiler-suit had been acting as a scarecrow and keeping the cormorants away and leaving the fish to feed in peace for once.

If you fancy having your own coachline take a look at the video below; you’ll find it much cheaper than a Roller and a lot more use on the bank. 

Nick Thomas lives in South Wales. He started fly fishing on Scottish hill lochs many years ago and continues to design, tie and fish flies for trout, grayling, carp, bass and anything else that’s going.