Articles in the Category Troutbitten Fly Box

What’s the Deal With Hare’s Ear?

Last night, I slumped back in my chair and away from the tying desk. It’s lit like an operating room. With three hi-wattage beams shining on one very small object from left, right and center, my eyes don’t miss much. Combine that with 2X-power readers and some steady hands, and I can turn out well crafted flies as small as you like. I have no trouble inserting details into a fly, but I’ve never approached fly tying with that kind of goal anyway.

Like most good fly tyers who are better fishermen, I learned long ago that realism in a fly is one thing to a trout and another thing to a fisherman. So I scrapped that bias and whittled my patterns down to the elements that I believe attract fish. My guiding theory on fly design is that trout are looking for a reason not to eat my fly. So I limit materials only to what’s necessary. Nothing more.

Hare’s Ear is one of those materials. Here’s why . . .

Nymph Hook Inversion — And the Myth of the Jig Hook

Would you believe it if I told you that jig hooks don’t change the way a nymph rides in the water? You don’t need a jig hook to invert the nymph. In fact almost all nymphs invert, especially when weighted with a bead or lead. Furthermore, nymphs built on a jig hook probably aren’t inverting the way you imagine. And how you attach the knot is much more important than the hook itself . . .

Troutbitten Confidence Flies: Seventeen Nymphs

All long term anglers find a set of files to believe in. We attach a confidence to these patterns that carries over from the moment we form the knot to the hook eye. We fish better with these flies. We make them work. With more focus, we refine each drift with our best patterns. But there’s also something special about a great fly to begin with . . .

The set of flies below are built and carried as a system. There is very little overlap. Each fly does a specific job or offers the trout a certain look. I could tie a Hare’s Ear in five different colors, but I don’t. Instead, I see the flies in my box as pieces of a puzzle that lock together and fill out a whole . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Jiggy Streamers

With the Jiggy tied in, I quickly learned that nothing rides the bottom of the river like a ball jig. It bounces, canters, pivots and tap dances around rocks and gravel like nothing else. The ball itself is the key. It allows for some very unique presentations and movements. And when you really want to hug the bottom, you can set up your rig to feel those taps, as the Jiggy glides and scratches along the river bed.

That’s not to suggest that I constantly present a Jiggy deep down and glued to the rocks. Not at all. But when I do want to touch the bottom, to feel the rocks, hold a position or reach into the depths with precision, a Jiggy is the perfect vehicle. That is the key. That’s the special sauce of the Jiggy . . .

Nymph Hook Inversion — And the Myth of the Jig Hook

Nymph Hook Inversion — And the Myth of the Jig Hook

Would you believe it if I told you that jig hooks don’t change the way a nymph rides in the water? You don’t need a jig hook to invert the nymph. In fact almost all nymphs invert, especially when weighted with a bead or lead. Furthermore, nymphs built on a jig hook probably aren’t inverting the way you imagine. And how you attach the knot is much more important than the hook itself . . .

Troutbitten Confidence Flies: Seventeen Nymphs

Troutbitten Confidence Flies: Seventeen Nymphs

All long term anglers find a set of files to believe in. We attach a confidence to these patterns that carries over from the moment we form the knot to the hook eye. We fish better with these flies. We make them work. With more focus, we refine each drift with our best patterns. But there’s also something special about a great fly to begin with . . .

The set of flies below are built and carried as a system. There is very little overlap. Each fly does a specific job or offers the trout a certain look. I could tie a Hare’s Ear in five different colors, but I don’t. Instead, I see the flies in my box as pieces of a puzzle that lock together and fill out a whole . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Jiggy Streamers

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Jiggy Streamers

With the Jiggy tied in, I quickly learned that nothing rides the bottom of the river like a ball jig. It bounces, canters, pivots and tap dances around rocks and gravel like nothing else. The ball itself is the key. It allows for some very unique presentations and movements. And when you really want to hug the bottom, you can set up your rig to feel those taps, as the Jiggy glides and scratches along the river bed.

That’s not to suggest that I constantly present a Jiggy deep down and glued to the rocks. Not at all. But when I do want to touch the bottom, to feel the rocks, hold a position or reach into the depths with precision, a Jiggy is the perfect vehicle. That is the key. That’s the special sauce of the Jiggy . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

The Full Pint is one of the only permanent additions to my streamer box in the last few years. I test a lot of patterns against my confidence lineup, and very few flies make the cut. My box of long flies covers all the bases, really. And because I’m (mostly) a minimalist, I don’t add anything that is similar to other flies that I already carry.

But the Full Pint dazzled trout at the first dance. It had a big night the first time out. Then, day after day when I set the hook on a swirl or felt the jolting stop of a large trout slam the fly in mid-strip, I marveled at the Pint’s effectiveness . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

You can get a trout’s attention with a host of different patterns. Bright beads, flashy materials, wiggly legs and sheer size all stand out in the drift, and trout take notice. But interest and curiosity do not necessarily lead trout into the net. In fact, many of the attention getting materials we attach to a hook simply turn trout off, giving them a reason not to eat the fly.

On the other hand, while drab and flat patterns have their moments, it often takes a little sparkle, a little color, flash or wiggle, to turn trout on. The trick then, is finding the right elements to seal the deal — a simple combination of materials that is just enough to convince a trout, but not too much either. Enter: the Sucker Spawn . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

In a world of oversized, articulated streamers drenched in flash and draped with rubber legs, the Bunny Bullet is naturally sized and tied on a single hook — with just a little disco . . .

If the average modern streamer is an exotic dancer, then the Bunny Bullet is a stay-at-home Mom who gets stuff done . . .

It’s olive. It looks exactly like something trout love, and it’s designed to look vulnerable. (It seems like an easy meal.) The cut points of the deer hair head provide the angler visibility from above, it fishes well with or without split shot, and It looks good stripped or drifted . . . . .

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Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bread-n-Butter Nymph

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bread-n-Butter Nymph

This simple nymph is a winner. The Bread-n-Butter looks enough like a mayfly nymph, enough like a caddis, or enough like a small stonefly to be a very productive pattern. Whatever trout take it for, it gets attention and seals the deal frequently. It’s on my short list of confidence flies.

Yes. It looks like a Hare’s Ear nymph. Half the stuff in my box looks like a Hare’s Ear or a Pheasant Tail. When you turn over rocks to see what kind of bugs trout are eating, most of what you find fits under the category of “little brown things with some moving parts.”

My theory of fly selection is based in simplicity. I don’t carry hundreds of patterns, because I’ve found that I don’t need to. And carrying fewer flies forces me to adjust my presentation — to fish harder — instead of blaming the fly and changing what’s on the end of my line.

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The Perfect Parachute Ant

The Perfect Parachute Ant

What’s your favorite hatch? Sulphurs? Drakes? Tricos? Mine’s the ant hatch -- and I don't mean the flying ones. Every year I look forward to the end of Spring hatch season. In Pennsylvania, mayfly activity tapers off in June, and so do the crowds. The free-for-all is...

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