Most trout fishermen would prefer to catch a trout on a dry fly—especially if they tied it or the pattern imitates an insect with a scientific name. But every trout fly fishermen finds days when the trout seem to have lockjaw and refuse their offerings. Each stream has different insects and hatches, making it tough for someone not familiar with the creatures trout feed on when fishing strange waters.
Fly-fishing is fun—but fly fishing and “catching” is more fun. There are six fly patterns that fly fishermen who want to hook a trout should carry. Not all will work at the same place or the same time. But, rarely will one of these patterns fail you. Admitedlly, none carry scientific names and some anglers scorn them. But if you want to catch trout when others are not, give these flies a chance. Some of them have worked for me all over this country, the chalk streams of England, in South America, even the pristine clear waters of New Zealand.
God forbid! If I was forced to use just one of these six patterns I would not hesitate to select the egg pattern. I suppose every fish that swims from trout to catfish eats the eggs deposited by female fish. I have paused in Alaska to look at a cluster of eggs lying in the shallows almost covered by minnows (I think are maybe baby salmon) gorging on the rich food. Eggs come in all colors. The Alaskan salmon eggs are a ruddy to dark pink, but eggs of other species can vary with most of them a medium to pale pink. Individual fish eggs will vary in size from the salmon eggs that are probably one-quarter inch to eggs as small as one-eight inch.
The most popular egg fly pattern is made from gift yarn resembling a miniature round ball varying in colors from chartreuse to fluorescent orange. While most such patterns are usually large they need not be and some are as small as one-eigth inch in diameter. When they first appeared on the scene they were effective but their attraction to trout seems to have waned over the years.
An egg pattern that has produced well the last few years is a wisp of white marabou or soft feather attached to the egg. It is supposed to resemble a bit of the egg sac still attached to the fly and at times will out-fish a similar pattern minus the feather.
Many times getting a good imitation egg pattern to drift close to the bottom is especially effective. Years ago Alaskan salmon and steelhead fishermen began experimenting with plastic beads that resembled live eggs and the fly has become standard in these areas. Being plastic the beads are slightly buoyant but sink faster than most egg patterns.
Trout fishermen have not really picked up on the plastic bead egg but it works very well. It is rigged slightly different since it is not tied on the hook. Instead the leader tippet is threaded twice through the hole in the bead and then the tag end it half hitched 6 or 8 times around the strand of tippet circling the egg and pulled tight. The hook is tied about an inch below the fly. For trout fishing beads in size 6 or 8 mm and in an orange natural roe or dark peach or light peach are preferred. You can get information about purchasing these beads as well as how the egg is rigged by getting Googling www.troutbeads.com.
Moe than 40 years ago a Pennsylvania fly fishing friend showed me a pattern and made me swear never to write about it and only tell a few close friends. He then demonstrated how effective it was on trout. It was the now well known—or not so well known—sucker spawn.
A quick examination of this fly and the tendency is to ignore it. But there have been many times when it has out-fished all my offerings, It is nothing more than a series of miniature loops secured to the hook shank—usually of Antron yarn. The original pattern was a pale cream, and is still my preferred color. However all white, dark cream, even chartreuse has worked well. I prefer to fish sucker spawn under a floating fly like an ant or foam beetle. Favorite sizes seem to be 12, 14 and 16.
LITTLE RED WORM
I don’t know if this fly has a name and I also don’t know what scientific worm it is supposed to imitate. I call it the little red worm, although it sometimes is pink. I do know where there is a not so pure source of water upstream from a trout fishery that often these little red worms are in profusion and trout seem to love them. It is perhaps the easiest of all fly patterns to tie. A size 14 or 16 hook shank is wrapped several times with red thread to form a slim body. That’s it! I also have found that pink is also effective. It is fished on a dead drift like a nymph. Often it is effective with a pair of them fished under an indictor.
SAN JUAN WORM
This is a fly that has produced on trout for me where ever I have fished it. It can be tied on a straight hook, but many prefer to have a curved hook, claiming it more likely resembles the worm when dead drifted to fish. The most popular colors are red, wine and dark pink but chartreuse will work at times.
No trout fishermen should ever be without woolly buggers (another fly developed in Pennsylvania). It can be fished like a drifting nymph or streaked through a pool to resemble an escaping minnow or fished on a slow-strip retrieve as a leech. The most popular dressing is a black marabou or rabbit fur tail, black chenille body palmered with a grizzly hackle, or an olive tail, olive chenille body and tan or brown hackle. However an all chartreuse woolly at times will do well.
I long ago settled on what I think is the most effective woolly. It has a black marabou or rabbit fur tail, the body is made by wrapping a number of strands of peacock herl, which is over wrapped with thin copper wire for durability. A grizzly hackle is palmered over the herl. In the water this is about is “buggy looking” as any underwater fly pattern. It can be dressed on hooks as small as size 14 and as large as 2—depending on the size trout sought.
This is a fly I think developed in Pennsylvania that has caught on with many experienced trout fishermen. I believe it was first developed to imitate the Inch Worm. This worm appears in early summer in the northeast United States and many fall from trees into trout streams. I have watched trout move ten feet to grab one of these insects. The original was simply double-wound small chartreuse chenille on the hook shank. Since then other materials have been used and many believe that making a loop of the material at the tail end adds action and appeal. It is usually tied on a size 12 or 14 hook.
The green weenie has scored on smart brown trout that refused all sorts of beautiful patterns. I remember in Patagonia in Argentina when we tried to entice a nice brown holding on a clean gravel bar. Nothing seemed to work. Finally, I dug out a green weenie and drifted it pass the fish—it took it immediately.
A trout fisherman who carries these six patterns in his box will most of the time in most waters be able to score.