I store most of my flies in boxes with little cubicles. Later they may get transferred into the foamed fly box. The flies, especially the dries are often smooshed together over time. The hackles are askew and different than how they looked out of the vise. If one takes the time, steam can be used to resurrect those flies. It can also be used to spruce up fly tying materials. Here Don Bastian provides helpful advice on steaming feathers. Don has a very nice ‘wet fly’ site. There is much to be inspired by on Don’s site.
I recently ventured over to Central Oregon to fish some favorite lakes. I had fished them before so I had a fair understanding of the insects and ‘planned’ accordingly. Weather was perfect, some of the insects were there and to some degree the fish cooperated according to my plan.
I had planned for Damsels and Chrionomids. I caught fish with these patterns, especially in the mornings. The Damsel dry was the most fun. But, the responses were confined to morning and late evening for the most part. Mid day they produced little. (SwittersB)
I had tied up some Rufus Woolly Bugger patterns and anticipated that pronounced marabou wing enticingly fluttering on the decent. It caught fish, but not as I had figured. I retrieved it much like I do other Buggers and envisioned the draw/drop and how the wing and tail would pulse. Yet, I expected more from it. A black Elk Hair Caddis was a successful evening pattern along the edges, but it seemed to match the amount of Caddis I saw, which were less than I figured. No Hex hatch, no Callibaetis, Scuds didn’t produce once, nothing to small nymphs slowly worked along the weeds.
No, dare I say it…I resisted, honest I did, but the two silly flies below were magical…absurdly magical..and I could not match their success with any of my other usually powerful standbys (like the Little Fort Leech or the Kaufmann Dragon). So, I gave into what was the catnip…two green marabou laden patterns that were fished until they were shredded.
The Catnip…the over achievers. Simple but silly effective.
One from last time, and this time. A well tied fly gave up the ghost after a dozen or so maulings. Was it the green, the materials, the presentation, the silhouette, the similar food sources? Fun to contemplate this Winter. In the mean time more supplies need to be replenished.
So, from prior experiences I formed a comfortable, likely plan of action with a nice dose of experimentation/anticipation. Things were not turning out according to my plan, but I adapted back to some dependables and it worked…this time.
Joe Mathis has spent considerable time to improve his great tutorial tool, FlyRecipesdotCom. Some very outstanding tyers on board (and, one not so good) plus videos, feel good shots and much more. It is already becoming an excellent repository for excellent fly patterns to discover and tie. Contact Joe Mathis and provide him with details about your patterns. The site is free, so sign up and log in.
I haven’t been able to get out much this Spring/Summer to fish due to family health issues. I am looking forward to getting out onto a lake soon and experimenting with assorted patterns. It is a part of fly tying/fishing that I enjoy…the experimenting with patterns that you know just have to be successful….but sometimes fizzle. All fun and often amazing. The Orb was hugely successful the past two seasons on lakes as an emerging Callibaetis Mayfly. Fished in the top foot or so of water, with a ‘greased’ leader or beneath a strike indicator (bobber or supportive dry fly) it rocked. Others tie a similar pattern with a deer hair wing canted forward, plus the bead. I have not tried that…but this simpler version works also.
Match, Match, Match: size, color, shape, actions. The majority of your fly tying and presentation will be to match the stage of an insect or fish food source. As a beginning fly fisher you strive for success, for certainty. You will have little patience for far afield experimentation. When you read that article or go into that shop you are looking for answers, specifics that hone into the magic bullet.
But, yes the but, attractor patterns are often touted as something to break up the routine in the fish’s life. Something that stands out, provokes a response. With attractor patterns, be they nymphs, emergers, dries or streamers there are colors, size, wiggle factors that stand out. I don’t have a serious opinion by virtue of not having a lot of attractor patterns. I have had the same Humpy’s, Royal Coachman’s, Spruce Fly’s for years. They have worked on rivers and streams. There are quite a few out there now. I too have to pause and consider a change up to an attractor pattern. It is a psychological exercise to give up on the matching game unless you are just done trying to figure it out and say ‘what the hell do I have to lose. I’m not doing squat anyway.’
For the last few years you read more about the dry + dropper (hopper/dropper) combo. That dry sometimes is a large attractor style pattern that acts as a strike indicator and might just take a fish. Other wise I fish attractors in pocket water, seams, skitter them on a lakes surface. I experiment and provoke and have fun. Last resort or maybe just some relaxing experimentation behind that boulder or in under those trees. Think of them as fun.
Throwing Something Colorful At Them (SwittersB~PP)
As a beginning fly fisher (fly tier), you might want to explore the use of color to attract fish. This is standard thinking for Steelhead gear guys: egg color, spinner blade/body color, Corky-Birdie Drifter color. Steelhead, Pike, Saltwater fly fishers put a lot of emphasis upon color as well. Trout fisherman of old did more than we do today. So much of today’s fly pattern/presentation is focused upon sub-surface, natural tones of color, as it should be. But, as some of you might recall, Red was a common attractor color incorporated into many older patterns as a body or tail color.
I came upon an old (1964, S.I. Vault) article by Peter H. Boyle that is interesting re his experiments with Bass and Color, Movement & Flash. It is always worth a read to add variables to your arsenal of presentation to provoke a strike. Boyle’s research is indeed interesting and there is that old standby color, red, for shallow water presentations.
Photo by PP at Salmon Creek, Middle Fk. Willamette River watershed.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”