Out of necessity and after every fly fishing season, I engage in the tedious ritual of sorting through my stillwater fly box of used, abused and forgotten fly patterns. Although time consuming, it’s a rewarding chore that allows me to purge the spoils of a lengthy guiding tour and reminds me of successful choices and innovations that have earned a “commendable stature” on the end of my client’s leader.
Like many ardent fly fishers I hit the bench throughout the winter months with the hope of creating the next Holy Grail of fly patterns. It’s here where my motivation to continually excel on the water comes to fruition, but it also prompts the countless lessons that I have encountered over the past thirty years of tying and fly fishing. When it comes to fashioning the next practical fly pattern I live by two words, effective and simple. If there effective, it’s easy to eliminate unnecessary patterns. If there simple to tie, it’s easy to produce a large number of winning choices. Why re-invent the wheel when you don’t have to?
Now, some may call this an arguable theory and justify the cause to have copious varieties of “tie to try” or “what if” patterns. But if you had an opportunity to narrow down your “go to” selection to a few tried and true juggernauts that consistently wrangle giant trout, wouldn’t you be better off? I guess that’s the million dollar question and one that many seek the answer to day after day.
Here’s some food for thought. In a guiding situation you often have a small window to produce, and produce you must. You can’t make a living or meet the needs of your clients if you throw flies that don’t consistently catch fish nor if you continually change your selection with the hopes of finding something that might work.
It’s that exact principle that focuses my fly tying efforts and on the water selections down to a handful of shining stars. It’s a 5 for 95 rule of thumb. 5 percent of your flies will catch 95 percent of your fish. It’s just that simple!
This simple leech pattern is my go to choice for my point fly. This is an outstanding “all around” option for Manitoba’s diverse trophy trout species. It simply catches big fish!
A must in anyone’s fly box. This fly is trout candy with legs. The backswimmer bite is renowned on many Manitoba stillwaters and will often produce the biggest fish. Put them on the point or dropper or both. It’s a winning fly regardless of what species you choose to target!
A multi-purpose, natural pattern that can imitate a variety of forages. It’s a leech by name but will also moonlight as a dragon, caddis or crane fly nymph. My second choice for a go to point fly, it will never let you down!
A stillwater classic in all its variations. (Psychedelic, Crystal) My top choice for a dropper fly and a deadly mid column pattern. Originally a damsel imitation, it also entices trout that are hell bent on targeting caddis and believe it or not, baitfish!
In my opinion this is the best searching pattern out there. It does just that, it finds fish. My second choice for a dropper fly, great in all water columns. It will be whatever you want it to be!