The Nymbeet is the conception of Stuart L'Oste
Napier. Stuart was born at St. Mary's, Tasmania,
Australia on the 24th February 1907. He died at
a private nursing home, Launceston, Tasmania on
the 3rd May 1986.
One day as a bit of a joke, Frank Wadley came into
Sculthorps Fishing Department with a huge nymph dressed
on a 1/0 hook. For the ribbing he had used copper wire
from a pot scrubber so - they jokingly called it a Pot
Scrubber Nymph. This inspired Dick Wigram to adapt his
original Brown Nymph pattern, which had no thorax and
a full body rib. The adapted nymph, the 'Pot Scrubber Nymph'
was made with a ribbed abdomen and a pronounced thorax.
It seems that the use of material from a pot-scrubber
was all a bit of a joke amongst anglers and fly dressers
of the day. Enter the Nymbeet with its clear plastic nylon
body made from a pot-scrubber. Radical stuff in those
post-war days when plastic was new! With this pattern,
Stuart Napier had cleverly used the clear plastic from
a pot-scrubber to obtain a transparent looking body. The
Nymbeet was dressed in such a way, so it could be recognised
by trout, as either a nymph, a beetle or a shrimp.
Many of Tasmania's highland lakes are famous for 'tailing
trout.' These trout are forage feeding by slowly poking
around on the bottom in shallow water no more than four
or five inches deep. They are searching for crustaceans,
snails, beetles, nymphs and other aquatic prey. The
classic tailing trout are almost vertical and consequently
their tails are occasionally seen waving about in the air.
Actually this type of tailing behaviour is not often
encountered. The more common forms of tailing behaviour
seen are; the dorsal fin and/or the tip of the tail showing,
boils, dimples and sometimes, bow waves. Almost always
tailing trout are brownies, but if conditions are suitable
rainbows will also tail.
In October, November and early-December, you may
encounter trout tailing at first light in some of
the Tasmanian lakes with shallow margins. The trick
is to keep low and move very slowly as you sneak to
a suitable casting distance. Then when the fish has
its back to you, cast the fly some distance away,
but in the general direction you hope the fish is
fossicking towards. Tailing trout are challenging
fish to entice, although they are looking down they
are very wary, requiring stalking skills and delicate
accurate casting. They seem totally preoccupied as
they poke about rather slowly, searching out morsels
of food. Some anglers prefer to present a dry fly and
they occasionally succeed. Success all depends on how
resolutely the trout is keyed into foraging whilst
looking down. Ideally when fishing a dry, say a 'Red Tag'
# 16, the target trout should notice the fly settle in
a natural manner, but at the same time they can be easily
spooked. Logical anglers choose a wet fly such as a small
Shrimp, a Nymph, a small Beetle or a Nymbeet. Sometimes
a slight twitch of the fly works, but more often than
not, a twitched fly is completely ignored. At times
every fly tried is given the 'cold-shoulder,' however
on other days, tailers are more willing to play the
game. Generally a wet fly is fished inert on the bottom,
letting the trout discover it. The interesting thing
about the Nymbeet is the way it sits on the bottom.
Because of the full hackle and the tail, much like a
hackled dry fly sitting on the surface, the Nymbeet
comes to rest sitting cocked on the bottom so it can
easily be detected by the trout. The reputation of
the Nymbeet soon spread and it promptly found a growing
list of devotees. Its reputation was so high in the
1970's that a common angling comment was..."If he won't
take anything else, try a Nymbeet."
As soon as the sun is bright the trout are gone, but
if overcast they may stay in the shallow lake margin
a little longer. Why were the trout tailing? The answer
is – in the early season, as summer approaches; the
shallow water warms up much faster than the deeper
water. This is especially so after a previous warm
sunny day. If there is a frost, don't expect to find
tailers. The warmer water stimulates and activates
the cold-blooded sub-surface aquatic life. To entice
a trout from the shelter of deeper water there has
to be plenty of food available in the shallows. By
early-December the shallows are too warm and deeper
water now holds active trout prey and consequently
the trout feel much more secure. [Keep in mind the seasons
in Australia are opposite to the US.]
In the book Australia's Best Trout Flies
compiled by Malcolm Crosse, the Nymbeet is referred to.
I quote Rick Keam, page 80:
"Tasmania's Stuart Napier maintained that "one thing y'
don't need is a lot of flies", and in his later years
he mostly fished with just two or three. I remember him
doggedly presenting his Cocky Spinner to Little Pine
dun feeders on a bleak day, and succeeding. This was
not the local pattern of that name, but a thin-bodied
Coch-y-bonddu tied as conventionally hackled and tailed
mayfly. For blind wet searching, he favoured an unnamed
#8 nondescript with peacock herl body and possum-tail
wing projecting beyond the bend, probably inspired by
Max Christensen's tie of Youl's Gadfly. But his Nymbeet
is his great creative contribution. Internationally, it
was one of the first post-War experiments with synthetic
materials. It offers an each-way bet between nymph and
beetle, with the bonus that it also suggests amphipods.
In fact many anglers have associated it with inert
presentation to 'scud' feeders in highland lakes,
missing out on an excellent general-purpose wet fly
The original body material - a flat 1 mm wide, almost
clear plastic strand from a circular pot scourer - is
so scarce as to be nearly mythical. I found some recently
after 35 years of searching! Contemporary customised
fly-tying products like clear Vinyl Rib or Nymph Rib
don't have quite the same shell-like quality, but they
are three times thicker, eliminating the original
requirement to first build up an underbody of thick
black Marabu silk."
Nymbeet (Stuart Napier)
Hook: #10 –16 wet fly hook.
Thread: 3/0, black.
Tail: Small bunch of black cock hackle
equalling the hook length.
Back: A strip of black crow wing or
substitute, doubled over lengthways and reaching
almost halfway down the sides of the fly, tied
in by the tip end.
Body: The original dressing has an
underbody of black marabou silk, wrapped with a
strip of clear plastic from a particular washing
up pot cleaner. Clear Vinyl Rib or Nymph Rib can
be substituted. They are three times thicker, so
the underbody can be eliminated.
Hackle: Two turns of black cock, the
fibres the same length as shank (leave full, not
gathered underneath into a 'throat style).
Comment: Many animals including crustaceans,
use visual communication. The male Fiddler Crab uses a
kind of sign language to signal amorous intent to females
by waving his large claw in a distinct way. Tail waving
by dogs is another example. The white tip on the tail is
a visual aid, enabling the message to be clearly seen. As
a visual improvement to the Nymbeet, perhaps the use of
a black hackle with white tips could be tried.
1. Wrap a nice even base of thread starting near
the eye of the hook and extending to the point
where you are going to tie in the tail. This point
should be roughly level with the barb on the hook.
2. Tie in tail of four or five stiff black cock hackles.
3. Cut a strip from a black crow wing or suitable
substitute. Fold using the same technique used in
making the wing case of a nymph. Tie in narrow end
so back can be folded over after body is made.
4. Now tie in the Clear Vinyl Rib or Nymph Rib
and wrap thread up the shank leaving room for
hackle and small head.
5. Now wind the Clear Vinyl Rib or Nymph Rib forming
segmented body. Tie off and trim excess.
6. Now bring crow wing over body, tie off and trim waste.
7. Now tie in black cock hackle, make two turns, tie
off and trim excess. Make small head, whip finish
and add a dab of head cement.