A Minnesota native, John Atherton became a well-known illustrator and fine artist in New York City in the 1930s and early ’40s. One of his paintings hangs in the Metroplitan Museum of Art. In the mid ’40s Atherton moved to Arlington, Vermont, on the banks of the Battenkill a few miles downstream from Orvis. There, he began creating a collection of dry flies, nymphs, and wet flies based on Impressionism. He believed that most trout patterns were too drab and that real insects featured an array of colors if you looked closely enough. Today’s Orvis associates are lucky enough to fish the Atherton Pool on the Battenkill for wild brown trout.
In this great video, Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions demonstrates how to tie one of Atherton’s impressionistic nymphs. Tim’s first steps may surprise you, but the finished product is gorgeous, with a bright-blue wingcase that expresses Atherton’s love of colors. The Atherton #2 Nymph is also very buggy and is sure to entice trout anywhere.
Atherton #2 Nymph
Hook: 2X-long nymph hook (here, a Fulling Mill 35085), size 14.
Thread: Tan, 6/0 or 70-denier.
Collar: Hungarian partridge feather.
Tails: Natural pheasant-tail fibers.
Rib: Gold oval French tinsel, small.
Abdomen: Natural hare’s mask dubbing.
Wingcase: Silver Doctor-blue saddle-hackle fibers.
Thorax: Natural hare’s mask dubbing.
Head: Tying thread.
Adhesive: Head cement or Sally Hansen Hard-As-Nails.
Tools: Hackle pliers, half-hitch tool, fine-tipped bodkin.