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Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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Fly selection…

One of the most asked questions on this forum, especially by newbies and new posters, is “I’m fishing this stream…….What flies should I use?”

For me, this question is like nails on a chalk board.

I know people are going to follow this up with a list of their to 5, 10, or 25 must have flies; and that this basic question (what fly to use) will keep popping up. However, If I can prevent “the question” one time than this post is a success for me.

I’m not even going to mention the whole size, before color and shape thing.

Here is goes……

Fly selection is simple. Any fly you have in you box will catch fish on any given day on any given stream. Yes there are specifics, but if your asking this question, specifics aren’t for you (yet).

The reason common patterns are common is because of their effectiveness. Think of fly patterns as evolution. The great ons have been passed down over the years and the crappy ones forgotten.

Basically, all flies work, it’s just how you fish them . Any fly that they sell in a shop is going to intice fish. If you’ve heard about it, it will work. Most of the same bugs are in all of the streams, and generic fly patterns (PT’s, Hare’s ears, Buggers) will work for any or all of them.

I’m not saying flip rocks or catch bugs with your hat because odds are you don’t have an exact imitation and if you tie flies you have to create one at a later time. By the way, most nymphs are brown, green, or some shade in between. And who’s to say that fishing an imitation of a hendrickson nymph in August isn’t going to work.

Dries are a different story, however the staple flies are still there. If you are heading to a stream, as long as you are not a complete novice, you should have an ieda what hatch activity is going on based off the tim eof the year. And if you don’t, ask “what’s hatching,” and please not “what flies will work.”

Posted on: 2010/4/8 13:58


Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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From Bozeman
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I agree that people dwell too much on fly selection, and I agree with everything you've said.

The key is to fish something that gives you confidence. A hare's ear or pheasant tail is almost always my answer.

Posted on: 2010/4/8 14:19


Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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Maybe a good addition to the "important topics" for this forum would be a list of "the basic fly box" must haves and why. Just a thought from a used to be newbie. I am now building my arsenal based on input from PAFF and my increasing experience on the water.

Posted on: 2010/4/8 18:51
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Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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But how else can I blame my not catching them to the "wrong" flies!

Posted on: 2010/4/8 21:06


Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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Quote:

jreichel wrote:
Maybe a good addition to the "important topics" for this forum would be a list of "the basic fly box" must haves and why. Just a thought from a used to be newbie. I am now building my arsenal based on input from PAFF and my increasing experience on the water.


That's kind of the thing mkern is discussing. There's no such thing as a "must have", and trying to get a consensus is like herding cats. (I stole that phrase from jerseygeorge, and have used it a few times ) Everyone's got their own style. Part of the beauty is developing your own.

Take the recent discussion about fly sizes in one of these threads. Blueheron and shakey weighed in that they prefer larger flies. Shakey seems to go the traditional route, whereas BH's flies looked "buggy" with tons of moving fibers. (I caught a few on that fly the other day, BH). Both guys catch fish. Both do it on their terms. Afish has a few of his own things he does, and admittedly, I tend to emulate some of his style a bit when designing my own stuff. Again... catching fish on our terms. Everyone has very unique fly boxes, and every accomplished fisherman thinks he has a box of "must have" flies. Famous flies got that way because they were either marketed by someone, or because their design is generic/obvious-- not necessarily because they are a "must have".

Fish are in the business of eating food-like stuff that drifts by them. Show them something that resembles fish food, and they'll usually eat it. What is fish food? Any number of millions of insects, larvae, minnows, and even the occasional pebble, twig, or cigarette butt.

Most any named pattern will work. The fun starts when you begin to tie and make changes to known patterns to make them your own. Fly design is about 30% of the game for me, if I had to quantify it.

The point of the original post in this thread, to me, is that there are a million and one ways to skin a cat, and that you shouldn't let worrying about "THE" fly mystify you. Presentation is the mystery. It's the game. The sooner you move away from worrying about what flies other people are throwing, and move toward presenting YOUR flies well, is when you'll realize this stuff... Fly selection is so much less important than other factors. Beginners would do well to realize that early and often. IMO, anyway.

Posted on: 2010/4/8 22:20


Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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Guess "must have" was a poor choice of words. What I meant was a starting point. If you are new to this as I was not so long ago and you don't have a clue then you need somewhere to start before you can develop your own style. I've found from reading this forum that there are certain patters that will dominate this particular subject when it is discussed and right now my fly box shows it. It is full of GRHE and PT nymphs and adams, sulfur and BWO dries and a few cadis imitations with a couple buggers for good measure. sure there is going to be people who will say well you can't go without this fly or that fly and that is style and confidence thing showing. I know I would still be struggling if I had not looked for the predominately talked about fly patterns on this forum. I just spent time and took notes and narrowed it down on my own. I think the flies I just listed above is a good place to start and with time and experience you can branch out from there. Just my opinion for what it's worth.

Other than that I agree with you about the developing your own style and being creative with your tying as that's the area I am just starting to explore. And yes presentation is very important without it the fly is just a gob of hair and feathers on the end of your line. A newbie just needs a place to start. I know I did.

Posted on: 2010/4/8 23:32
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Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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jreichel,

Your basic list is good.

However, my point is there are a flood of posts on this forum (many by 1 time posters)(some by newbies) that are in a panic and want fly advise.
And they all get the same, if not very similar, answers.

A simple scan of the fly bins at a fly shop (because they all carry the same flies) is all that's really needed.

For example, when I pull up to a stream and am rigging my rod. I flip open my fly box and put on 2-3 flies. These flies make sense to me because I've fished for awhile, but they are pretty common sence; especially if they are generic patterns.

This is why they have generic patterns and why generic patterns work.

I hate hearing, "Well March Browns are hatching, so I tied on a size 12 GRHE." Because a GRHE is not a match for a March Brown, substitute possibly, but not an imitation.

I prefer to closely imitate many mayfly species, so I study the bugs (pictures and live) and tie accordingly. However, I use generic patterns too, after all, they all work! In a 3 nymph rig, I usually have 1 completely generic, one "hybrid" if you will (generic, with modifications), and hatch specific. I don't know if the hatch specific fly catches more, because I don't keep track, but I'm guessing certain days it does and certain days it doesn't. Overall, it probably comes out even.

I have fished during intense sulphur hatches and caught all fish on a size 10 bead head flashback PT, but right behind is was a pretty good (IMO) sulphur nymph and in front a decent sulphur emerger.

(This could lead to me talknig about reaction and fly order, but it won't).

Posted on: 2010/4/9 9:06
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Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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Point taken. I was just offering a suggestion that I thought might - in conjunction with your original post - help eliminate a some of the questions that cause you to cringe. Like I said it was just a thought.

Posted on: 2010/4/9 9:22
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Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"
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I understood the cringing part to be a mild disgust with a fly angler who would ask only that question. I would want to know about flows, active or anticipated hatches, and conditions regarding expected angler usage on the day of my trip. What fly to use would follow from that. If I told you I slayed them yesterday on a lime-green emerging sparkle pupa and that's all you took to the stream, I'd think you are foolish. Likewise, if you didn't take any of them, I'd think you were unschooled.

Posted on: 2010/4/9 9:53
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Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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There are for sure times when "presentation" is more important than fly selection , just to add my two cents.

Posted on: 2010/4/9 11:09


Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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Osprey,

That's what Jay and I are kinda saying (I also say that the "what flies" post are overused, overrated, and over responded too).

What do you know, there's one going on now in another thread.

Posted on: 2010/4/9 13:56
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Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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MKern.............I know you remember times when a trout which had taken up a tough lie , was actively feeding , and you knew all you had to do was to be able to get something over it and it was yours. The fly was unimportant , the presentation of something that looked like food was not.

Posted on: 2010/4/9 18:19


Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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Osprey,

I agree with you, I guess I was vague earlier. Presentation is key.

Proper presentation is half the reason the "What flies" questions bother me.

Posted on: 2010/4/9 18:29
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Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"
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Quote:


M Kern wrote: Presentation is key.

Osprey wrote: The fly was unimportant , the presentation of something that looked like food was not.



I agree.

Be stealthy, and put the "wrong" fly in the right place, with a perfect presentation.....and HANG ON!! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted on: 2010/4/10 6:53


Re: Answer to the age old "What flies?"

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afish.............gotta love that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted on: 2010/4/10 10:20



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