This post, is aimed at the beginning fly tier, fly fisher who is attempting to clarify, exactify (my word) the confusing array of fly patterns and eventual variations. You will come across pattens that have many variations and some that claim to have been originated by one tier over here while over there another tier is attributed with the origin of the fly.
My advice is don’t get caught up on the historical aspects of a pattern unless you are a fiy fishing history buff. I am not. I will query a fly pattern name and origin, but if it starts getting murky then I move on to a more practical side of the endeavor: What does the pattern/fly imitate? How would I tie that fly? How would I present that fly? In the end, I am not going tell the fish or a bystander that ‘I am fishing the Halfback Nymph, which was originally tied by John Dexheimer’, or is it ‘the Halfback Nymph by Jack Shaw’.
Unless you are a historian cataloging fly patterns (good luck in this day in age), forget the who and focus on the what and how. What is it representing? How do I tie it and fish it. Too many variations out there to sort out the who anymore…I think.
As you can see by the four recipe/pattern versions of the Halfback Nymph the beginning tier could be confused if seeking exacting information. All of the above patterns have merit and would-do catch fish. You will come to tie the ones that work and admittedly are pleasing to your eye.