Articles With the Tag . . . nymphs

Feed ‘Em Fur

Every once in a while, the mainstay beadhead nymphs in my box see a drop in productivity. Sometimes, it takes hours or even days of denial for me to accept the message. First, I try going smaller, into the #18 and #20 range, focusing on black beads and duller finishes that have mixed, mostly subpar results. Then eventually, I flip over a leaf in my fly box, where, on the backside, I have rows of natural nymphs. They carry no bead and have minimal lead wraps on the shank for weight. These are subtle, unassuming flies, and their main attraction is an inherent motion, providing a lifelike representation of the leggy critters that trout eat.

The flies are fur nymphs. And they’re the perfect change up when trout are tired of your beadheads.

When trout are sick of seeing flashbacks, sparkly dubbing, gaudy colors or rubber legs, feed ‘em fur . . .

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 . . .

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tags and Trailers

Sometimes trout are feeding so aggressively that the particular intricacies of how nymphs are attached to the line seem like a trivial waste of time. Those are rare, memorable days with wet hands that never dry out between fish releases. More often than not, though, trout make us work to catch them. And those same particulars about where and how the flies are attached can make all the difference in delivering a convincing presentation to a lazy trout.

Two nymphs can double your chances of fooling a trout. But there are downsides. Here are some strategies for rigging and getting the most from two fly rigs.

What’s the Deal With Hare’s Ear?

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...

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 . . .

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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 . . .

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Is your new fly really new? What makes a fly original?

Is your new fly really new? What makes a fly original?

When is a fly original enough to deserve its own name? And do a few material changes result in a new fly, or is it the bastardization of an existing pattern?

“That’s just a Woolly Bugger with flashy chenille, bigger hackle, rubber legs, and dumbell eyes. Oh, and it’s two of them hooked together.” That’s the first comment I heard about Russ Madden’s Circus Peanut. And to that I say, sure it is. But aren’t there enough material and form changes there to be a unique fly? When we think Woolly Bugger does it really look anything like a Circus Peanut? No, not really. So I’d say the Circus Peanut deserved a name, and it got one.

I have a similar fly stored in my own meat locker. I call it a Water Muppet, but it’s mostly a Circus Peanut. I tie it smaller, dub the body instead of wrapping chenille, and I use a tungsten bead instead of dumbbell eyes. And while I have my own name for the pattern that amuses me, it’s pretty much a Peanut.

But I think there’s a genuine desire on the part of many fly tyers to get this right. We want to give credit for inspiration, and we know that all good ideas stem from somewhere. At the same time, we’re proud of the material or form changes we’ve made that catch more fish in our own rivers. And sometimes those innovations define a genuinely new fly pattern, so they deserve a unique name . . . . .

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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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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #34 — Outside the Box

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #34 — Outside the Box

Good things happen by thinking outside the box. Norms are for normal people, and in the strange world of fishing, there aren’t many of those. At some point, every type of fly has been used against its intended purpose, because fly fishers are a creative bunch — not so normal, really — and the penchant for experimentation is urged on by the trout themselves. Everything works sometimes.

So here’s a list of flies and techniques that do double (or triple) duty.

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Eggs for Breakfast, Eggs for Lunch, Eggs for Dinner

Eggs for Breakfast, Eggs for Lunch, Eggs for Dinner

It was an early summer morning. Late June probably, and I was fishing my home water. Once the fog had lifted from the cold spring creek, I’d done alright. I caught enough trout to keep me moving upstream at a steady pace, hitting each pocket and every likely bank lie...

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