Effective Flies – The Pineapple Express

Craig ties a river nymph which stands out when there are big flows and/ or a bit of colour in the water.   

One of the most important ingredients in flyfishing is simply to get the fish to notice your fly. The angler can use various means to achieve this, including fly placement, behaviour, colour, movement, and flash. The Pineapple Express nymph exploits colour to get the trout’s attention – and it gets the attention of the angler as well. When fellow fishers are looking at my river nymph box, the Pineapple Express is the fly most commented on. With its combination of sparkling yellow and fluoro orange, it certainly stands out in a crowded fly box.

I have found this nymph works especially well in rivers with good populations of caddis. Three rivers where I would often tie it on first up are the Tyenna in Tasmania, the Goulburn in Victoria, and the Tumut in NSW. However, this is not a complete list, and the fly has been successful all around the world for me. Faster rivers are best as the fish have little time to make up their mind when the bright the colour grabs their attention.

The Pineapple Express is well-suited to faster water which is so typical of many streams this season.

This fly can be employed in a range of river fishing methods, including Euro nymphing, nymph under dry, and swinging. When Euro nymphing, I normally fish the Pineapple Express in combination with a smaller, drabber nymph such as a Hares Ear.

Finally, as per the notes below, I like to try a couple of different bead colours with the Pineapple, and it’s good enough to carry in a versatile range of sizes and weights.


Jig hook – size 14, 16 & 18. (Use a Hanak H 450 BL Jig Superb when euro nymphing and nymph under dry, but when swinging, use a Tiemco 2499 SP BL or Hanak H 500 BL, combined with classic tungsten beads.)

Bead – Slotted tungsten copper or metallic green, in 3.5mm, 3.0mm, 2.5mm or 2.0mm.

Thread – Black or olive 8/0.

Tail – Olive cock hackle.

Rib – Fine metallic green wire.

Body – Olive pheasant tail.

Thorax – Spectra dubbing #03.

Colour – Fluoro orange 8/0.

Tying method

  1. Slide bead onto hook. I use these hook sizes with the corresponding beads:
  • Size 14 jig hook with 3.5mm slotted bead,
  • Size 16 jig hook with 3.0mm slotted bead,
  • Size 16 jig hook with 2.5mm slotted bead,
  • Size 18 jig hook with 2.0mm slotted bead.
  1. Start with the olive thread and tie in a clump of olive cock hackle for the tail, two-thirds of the hook shank length.
  2. Tie in the metallic green ribbing the full length of the hook shank to ensure a smooth underbody.
  3. Tie in 5 strands of olive pheasant tail (less for the smaller sized flies) by the trimmed tips. Twist the strands together and wind to behind the bead.
  4. Wind forward with the wire ribbing in the opposite direction to the pheasant tail, to protect the pheasant tail body.
  5. Tie off the olive thread and replace with the fluoro orange thread.
  6. Dub in a compact collar of the yellow Spectra dubbing.
  7. Build up a collar with the fluoro orange thread between the dubbing and the bead.
  8. Apply some clear head cement to the thread and whip finish.

The Pineapple Express is increasingly one of my go-to flies when nymphing rivers, and it is now commonly seen in the fly boxes of many competition anglers.