Planning your Fly Fishing Attack

by Fly Fisherman

Plan your fishing attack rather than tossing the fly dictionary of patterns at your trout. Select the flies with care and thought. Know them by name and the insect they simulate, if any. Pick the dry flies that should be emerging. Select the wet flies that, in your opinion and experience, might be effective, and choose your nymphs to generally match the possible “hatch.” Streamers are fraud minnows and if you do not have your “pet” streamer chosen yet, you will eventually.

Fly patterns can be distinctly controversial. Nearly every fly fisherman who has analyzed and studied the subject has his choice dozen or half dozen and his preferred single pattern. Most fly fishermen, who have enjoyed considerable experience, have traversed the gauntlet of carrying and using, literally, scores upon scores of different fly patterns. After years of this experience their “pet” flies have dwindled in numbers of patterns until they can assemble those really needed for a day’s fishing in one small box. I know of fishermen who actually will embark to the stream with just one pattern. However, many anglers, like myself, have their limited selections but will carry a rounded out assortment of several types and sizes just in case. A master fisherman in Maine may have his choice few as will another angler in New York, and the same applies to fishermen in Michigan, Colorado or California. Each group may vary but in the general consensus the similarity of patterns is surprising.

I earnestly urge the reader to traverse the experimental road and determine his own fly choices. It is, as mentioned previously, fun and an experience he should certainly undergo.
Generally, I use, according to various conditions, about six different fly patterns. Were I compelled to confine my selection to one wet and one dry pattern the decision would not be too difficult. It would settle, at this writing, on a Whirling Blue Dun, wet, and a Blue Wing Adams, dry. Other patterns in my list, not in order of preference because each, to me, fits a certain condition of season, of hatch on the water or the type of water being worked, are the Light Cahill Quill, the Red Macaw, the Red Quill, the Hendrickson and the “All Purpose” fly, most in sizes 12, 14 and 16. In some instances, when I’m off the beam, when my casting is erratic, when what stream reading ability I may possess is fogged up, I might drop to sizes 18, 20 or even 22 to get desired action.

In wet flies I favor the Royal Coachman (hairwing), the Gordon Quill, the Vampire Coachman, the Owen’s Sedge and the Blue Wing Black Gnat in sizes 10, 12 and 14. I do carry, in season, cinnamon colored sedge or caddis patterns and a yellow-orange bodied Stone Fly in sizes to suit the area I am fishing. When I feel particularly adept I enjoy fishing with a regular “Nymph” fly. My top favorites in this class of fly are the Mayfly Nymph, the Coachman Nymph, Pott’s Sandy or Lady Mite, the Hare’s Ear Nymph, the yellow bodied Partridge and the Iron Blue Dun Nymph. Those patterns listed are my “confidence” flies and arc used much more than any others. I am a rabid experimenter and when fish are coming too easily I experiment with other patterns—when fish are extremely touchy and wary, and hard to get, I experiment. I suggest you do that, too.

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