The bird's nest was designed by Cal Bird back in 1959. It's one of those patterns that should be a staple in anyone's fly box. It was originally tied without a bead, but many have found a copper bead to be a great addition. Here Matt Grobert, author of the book "Fly Fishing New Jersey Trout Streams" and creator of the blog "Caddis Chronicles" is going to tie his version of the bird's nest.
Begin by placing a copper bead on an appropriately sized nymph hook, here, a Dai-Riki #285, size 16. Matt uses the jaws of his vise to mash the barb, but of course other techniques will work as well. Point 02 lead wire is used here, not really for weight, but to help stabilize the bead.
Start your thread just behind the bead. Matt's using olive colored danville 6/0. Wind your thread back to about halfway between the hook point and the barb. Wood duck fibers are going to be used for the tail of the fly. Even the tips on a small section and strip them free from the stem. Tie in the wood duck fibers on top of the hook shank to form a fairly short, sparse tail. Then snip the butt ends of the fibers off.
For the rib of the fly, Matt's using UTC copper colored Ultra Wire, in the small size, about 6 inches is enough. Tie in the wire at the point where you snipped off the tail fibers and secure it to the underside of the hook.
Using natural Australian possum, make a nicely tapered dubbing noodle about three inches long. Wrap the noodle onto the shank of the hook to create a carrot shaped abdomen.
Then wind your copper wire forward in an open spiral to give the abdomen a segmented look. Secure the wire to the shank and then helicopter to break it off.
You can use the same wood duck feather you used for the tail to make legs. Matt doesn't strip the fibers from the feather when he does this because the feather is easier to hang on to and manipulate rather than the fibers alone. With fibers tied in on either side of the shank and pointed downward, kind of beard style, snip the remainder of the feather off.
Now, using the same natural Australian possum, create a dubbing noodle for the thorax. Don't be shy with the dubbing here. With the thorax complete, you can then whip finish and snip or cut your tying thread free.
Now comes the fun part. With a dubbing brush, here Matt's using a narrow strip of velcro. Really "have at" the fly. A bird's nest should look like, well, a bird's nest and the more you fish them, the better looking they get.
This is one of those patterns that can represent a whole variety of things and can be fished in a variety of ways, give it a try.