Posts Tagged ‘fly pattern selection


Fly Tying: Less is More? OMG! I forgot I had that……

This Midge Pattern is tied sparse and lively. One turn of hackle, an extended dubbed body and a few strands of trailing shuck. It would ride low and have considerable movement. Size 20

This Midge pattern has the same trailing shuck material, a dyed peacock herl abdomen, a touch of dubbing for the thorax, and a CDC wing faced with one turn of Starling. It is tied medium bodied. Size 18

This pattern is fully, maybe even over, dressed and better suited for the edges of riffles and seams. Midges prefer the slower glides of tailouts and silty bottoms. The same trailing shuck material is perhaps over done. The abdomen of herl is obscured by the dubbed collar of Snow Shoe Rabbit fur. I would still fish it with confidence. To the eye, on a size 20 hook, it looks tiny and white.

I am not going to write any thing too profound here. Conditions (type of insects, location of feeding, how the fish are feeding) often dictate the pattern selection. I offer up these patterns as experiments in the early tying season. I was experimenting, and as I often do, just having fun with the materials.

I love finding a plastic bag, opening it to find materials I purchased and forgot about…”Yeehaw! I forgot about that stuff”. I loaded up on some cool stuff last year. The task now is to stay on task and tie more than a couple of each pattern before jumping to the next pattern…like a fart in a windstorm.

I still have to tie several dozen unweighted, earth tone Woolly Buggers to compliment the weighted ones. How boring a prospect is that…of course, until this Spring when I am fishing the shoals with those slower sinking morsels.


Fly Fishing: Beginner’s Assortment

A Basic Assortment of Trout Flies for the Beginning Fly Fisher

Anyone categorically claiming a definitive list of flies for the beginner is aware that there are a myriad of basic fly patterns to choose from to construct such a list. This (non-definitive) list is a temporary safe haven for the beginner, until  they start the onward march toward dozens of fly boxes and then the probable retreat toward fewer fly boxes. The possibilities of patterns and scenarios are endless. So, to suggest a must have list is inherently problematic.

I offer the above collage as a very temporary list of patterns to start a season with and then build upon.

Muddler Minnow (Top/Left   Woolly Bugger (Top/Center)  Wet Fly (Top/Right)

Egg Pattern (2nd Row/Left)   Gold Bead Hares Ear (Center)  Adams (2nd/R)

Elk Hair Caddis (3rd Row/L)                              Bead Head Pupa (3rd Row/R)

San Juan Worm (Bottom/ L)                               Pheasant Tail Nymph (Bottom/R)

“OMG! What about……………”   Yes, yes, quite true. The possibilities are endless, and you will in short order increase the patterns you carry. Sit with five other fly fishers and each will have their favorites. But, I bet most would consider the above list an adequate start for a season’s trial. If you would like to take a season to see if you really want to get into fly fishing, then buy/borrow the above patterns to start and then try the sport. Keep it simple. Vary the sizes and colors a bit and concentrate on presentation, observations and reading the water.


Fly Fishing: Hatch Charts & You

Hatch Charts found in magazines, web site searches and the ‘net in general are a useful resource for the fly tier/fly fisher. There are different styles of hatch charts that will require little research. The above hatch chart first tells you the general location (Virginia) the general type of insects (‘Major Caddis, etc.) and the suggested general dry fly/nymph patterns and what months those patterns will apply.

The above hatch chart would require you to do some extra work re the size of fly pattern to use, as well as define what insect a ‘blue quill’ or ‘White Wulff’ represents. Once this general understanding is acquired for a region, you may look at the above hatch chart and easily decipher the fly pattern/insect identifiers and just focus on the ‘when’ of the chart.

This next hatch chart is similar to the first hatch chart, but it gives a little more in the way of insect specifics. You will still have to research the insect and determine the fly patterns and sizing. You do have the time span that those suggested fly patterns are worthwhile on the Eagle River.

This next hatch chart is graphically impaired, but actually provides more details. You can see the suggested insects and, in this instance, the sizes for the patterns in addition to the time span.    

Now this last hatch chart combines several important factors: the insects are more specifically identified, the sizes of the insects/patterns are provided too. Then not only do you see when those insects are most often available, but also the hatches are weighted as to intensity (low, medium, high). Some hatch charts will call the ‘high’ intensity hatches ‘super’ hatches.

All the hatch charts are going to require you to research the best fly patterns to tie or buy for the referenced insects. Then you will be good to go what’s and when’s for a particular body of water. Not all waters are so nicely dissected though. A thoughtfully designed hatch chart is a great resource.


Fly Tying: Do You Still Need Me?

Bead Head Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear Nymph by SwittersB. It was the go to nymph (well, coupled with the Pheasant Tail Nymph PTN) for a decade or more. There has been an explosion of creativity, innovation, experimentation at the vise the past decade. Has the Hare's Ear Nymph been lost from sight as a crawler/clinger nymph pattern? Whether the original tannish color or in green or black or brown, it is an excellent pattern.


October Caddis: Juicy Couture

Most of you have no clue what couture means. You stopped at ‘Juicy’. So, it is with the October (Discosmoecus) Caddis. You will get mixed advice re the pupae migrations and their locations out of the seams and main current from where they crawled. Pick the water. Would a trout hold there to pick off the large succulent morsels or feel vulnerable. Would the large, fluttering adult patterns be a better pattern as the adult emerges from the pupae or the female returns to lay her eggs.

October Caddis on the Deschutes River (Oregon) SwittersB

Juicy Gulp, er ….October Caddis


Fly Fishing: Entomology & The Cat

I left the house at 7pm intending to run an errand. I noticed a big, beautiful mayfly dun on my other car. I snapped a few pics and departed, figuring it would be gone when I returned. And, so it was, kind of. I returned to find the shuck in place of the dun. Now, I didn’t get a good enough look at the time to see what was totally going on when I originally left. So now, I gently secured the shuck with the intent of photographing it. I went to the front door and opened it and out jets Penelope the House Cat. Shoot it was 0845pm and almost dark. I chased after the cat and eventually removed her from beneath my rig. Hmmm….the shuck was destroyed in the pursuit of the cat! So much for my entomological studies…at least for tonight. What is very fascinating, for me, is that there is only the smallest little spring behind my house. So, was I watching a Dun prior to the emergence of a Spinner or…….


Fly Tying & Fishing: On The Edge…Hoppers

Hot Summer days and the dusty shoreline and grass are buzzing with grass hoppers. This is a perfect beginner’s pattern where presentation may be more important than size, shape or color. Whether it is a Joe’s, Dave’s or some other buoyant hopper pattern, work it near the shoreline, close to the edge. Depending upon the size of the river, primarily focus within five feet or so on windy days. When it is hot and still, cast right in toward shore. If the waters allow you to safely wade in, then wade out a ways and cast in toward shore. If you are lucky enough to get an invite on a friend’s drift boat, then a hopper pattern will be a nice morsel to throw in off the grass and dirt banks. Hopper patterns are also, as you may have read in your studies, part of the touted Hopper/Dropper set up, providing an indicator/dry fly offering with a trailing subsurface pattern. Some people also fish two dries, say a Hopper and a Caddis pattern. I know an older gent, who years ago traveled the West, while working for the U.S. Forest Service, and primarily fished the Joe’s Hopper. There are newer Hopper patterns constructed of the new synthetics as well.  

Joe's Hopper (Montana Riverboats)


Fly Fishing: Size Matters (Don’t Be Sad)

The common factors for the beginning-intermediate fly fisher in fly selection are commonly stated as size, color and shape for trout. 

For the beginning fly fisher, the best advice I can offer is identify size as best as you can  (usually smaller than you would think, save those Drakes and Hex hatches). Then color and then shape or stage. This is important whether fishing a nymph, larva, pupa or dun/spinner.

Study up on the hatches for the bodies of water you intend to fish and then study those hatches for size, variances of color and overall shape.     

Also, not to be forgotten is action/presentation. This can be movement to suggest life or lack of movement, but presenting the fly, untroubled, into the zone. Fly above: I tied a smaller version of the Zug Bug. 


Fly Tying: Fore & Aft Patterns

I am by no means a fly pattern historian. I leave it to others to delve back through the annals of fly tying. The fore and aft style fly pattern is reputed to have originated in England over a century ago. Most patterns (save those with new synthetic materials) probably had multiple originators in the far corners of the fly tying/fishing world.

The fore and aft is often offered up as a midge cluster. Well, that seems fine for a very small pattern, say size 16 to 20, but my experience with say the Renegade pattern is it has done amazingly well in B.C. lakes as a Caddis pattern beneath the surface. I recall a small, remote lake near Wavy L. that to this day afforded some of the most amazing fly fishing I have ever experienced. The Renegade pattern was in tatters, with the tinsel and rear hackle trailing behind. There were no chironomid/midge in sight. Only, Caddis/Sedge were emerging and skittering. As tempting as it was to put on a large dry Caddis pattern, the sunken Renegade was intoxicating to the fish and to me. I will never forget the fly line zipping through the water as the Kamloops took the fly and jetted off across my path. 

Whether the body in tied thinly or rather plump, like the Renegade, experiment with the fore and aft hackling on a pattern. Try it as a searching pattern where exact dry fly /emerger pattern presentations are not called for. Lakes and busy surface streams would be good choices. The hackles can be the dry fly quality feather or even a softer hackles for a busier look. I have include a Renegade I tied and a Stick Fly (midge) pattern that shows Ostrich Herl for the hackle. 


Fly Tying: Brian Marz’ & the Chubby Chernobyl

A S-B-S tutorial by Brian Marz for a Golden Stonefly pattern just in time. Note the unique color of the pinkish-tan calf tail that Norm Woods uses for his wing material. Norm Woods’ Chubby Chernobyl by Brian Marz  The pinkish-tan calf tail may not be readily available (an Oregon thing), so you will have to substitute a non-pinkish hued calf tail. An animated, buoyant, buggy looking critter just in time for Summer.

Norm Woods' Chubby Chernobyl Golden Stone (Brian Marz)

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