Copper John Nymph Fly: Everything You Need To Know To Catch More Fish

by Darby @ Fly Fish And Camp | Last Updated: June 24, 2020

The Copper John Nymph is one of the greatest nymphs available to fly anglers around the world today.  It was created by John Barr and since it’s creation, it’s been one of the most popular trout fishing nymphs.

Why is the Copper John Nymph Popular?

The Copper John Nymph is super popular because of it’s flashy looks and heavy design that drops to the bottom of the river very quickly.  It doesn’t take need additional weight to be used effectively, but a two fly system works very well with this nymph.

If you were to rank the popularity of the Copper John Nymph, it’s up there with the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear and the Pheasant Tail Nymph as the most popular nymphs for catching trout.  The flare of the copper it sends to the fish entices the fish to bite, nearly all times throughout the year.

It was developed in the 1990’s by a guy names John Barr.  He lived in Colorado at the time.  The nymph was originally meant for western United States fishing, but anglers quickly realized that it worked very well across the States, and even around the world.

Today, the Copper John is one of the most popular fly fishing nymphs on the planet.

This is a picture of the Copper John Nymph.

Copper John Nymph

What does the Copper John Nymph imitate?

The Copper John Nymph imitates Mayflies and Stoneflies.  If you are a fly angler, you know that trout are fans of these little bugs, and eat them through the Spring, Summer and Fall, especially during the hatch.

If you are fishing the hatch during the Spring, surely have a couple of these nymphs on hand.  Use them in a two fly setup with the Copper John on the end.  You could also use this nymph in a three fly setup too.  Either or works, but I would recommend using at least two flies on the line.

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How to catch trout with the Copper John Nymph

Fly fish the Copper John Nymph like any of your other nymphs.  Many fly anglers will use what is called “sink-tip line” because it drops the nymph down to the bottom of the river, quicker.  The Copper John is a heavy nymph, so it naturally drops quickly although.  Keeping that in mind, other fly fishermen will use standard floating line, and use the two fly setup.  Or do a mix and match.

Really the goal is to get the Copper John Nymph to the bottom of the river quickly, so you can trick the fish into biting before it knows what it’s biting.  Trout are keen to biting shiny objects (ask any spinner trout fisher) and the copper in the Copper John is bright and flashy.

It’s essentially built to be a trout catching machine.

If you are able to master the art of nymph fishing, you can catch a lot of fish using the Copper John.

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How to tie a Copper John

If you are interested in learning how to tie a Copper John Nymph, there’s an awesome video below to watch.  If you aren’t into tying Copper Johns, one of the better places I’ve started buying flies from is AvidMax.  (If you buy through the link we would like to say thanks, as we do make a commission on the sale).


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Copper John designs and changes

As a have a lot of flies that originated in the 1900’s, new versions of the Copper John Nymph have been crafted.  Most of which use the same principle of a heavy design and a copper wrapping around the backside of it.  The main differences you find in nymphs that are similar to the original Copper John, will be in material or the color of the fly.

It is worthwhile to get more than a single design of Copper Johns, because when you have a large variety of flies – it is easier to match the bugs that you find in the water.

Most versions and patterns of the Copper John are still extremely successful for what they do, catch a lot of trout.

Conclusion: Copper John Nymph

The Copper John Nymph is one of the best flies that you can get for fly fishing today.  It drops very quickly, is shiny, and imitates some of the most popular trout meals in Stoneflies and Mayflies.  It originated in the 1990’s by a fellow with the name of John Barr, and since then the nymph has been crafted into new looks and designs, most of which are very great flies.

Use this nymph in a two fly nymphing rig and you will most likely find yourself having great success on the river!

Hope this article helped you out!  Best of luck and tight lines!