Fly Tying: Exciter Fly Patterns (goofball alert)

Back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, I came by a book called Exciter Fishing: A New Way to Catch Trout, Salmon and Char by Fred Olson (Winchester Press, 1978). The gist of the book was that migratory fish were not feeding, but rather responding to stimuli that excited the striking responses of the fish. One of the assertions was that certain colors or combinations of colors were ‘exciters’ to fish, therefore you might as well combine those colors into one ‘exciter’ palette and see what shook. OMG!

So, this is akin to self flagellation, but here are a couple such patterns, tied long ago. Part of yesterday’s rescue effort, the wings are a little worse for wear from moths, but you get the goofy intent and craziness of it all. To a much lesser degree today, steelhead patterns are combinations of colors and movement to excite the striking response…but, at the time, and even now, these were outlandish patterns.

"Exciter Fly" By the Colors (SwittersB)

2 Responses to “Fly Tying: Exciter Fly Patterns (goofball alert)”

  1. 1 Brandon
    September 3, 2010 at 08:10

    Are you advocating this type of exciter pattern? Or you use to? How did you discard so many flies? I mean how or why do they get ‘tossed’?

    Thanks Brandon of Coshocton, Ohio


    • 2 SwittersB
      September 3, 2010 at 08:30

      I did and spose I still do. Not sure these old patterns (maybe 25 years old) flies would be what I would promote. If you look at todays spey flies, they are a compilation of the same ‘exciters’ but with less color schemes combined. So, excite yes, but not with all the colors at once. Some color schemes work best under low light, bright light etc. One would never know what is the trigger point if all the colors are combined at once.


      As to how flies get tossed…? Hmm….they set there and aren’t used? They conflict with what currently seems popular and the sway of public opinion makes you pluck the fly and set aside for the supposedly more worthy? The fly just looks sloppy and was not tied well? I use to tie a lot…much less now. I use to open a box of hooks and felt duty bound to tie up all 25 or 50 hooks. Now, I tie 5-10 flies and if they are really worthy by appearance and success, I may tie more. Otherwise, I don’t waste the hooks. Also, I am reversing course and not tying so many different patterns: more wets, more emergers. Hope this helped…




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