Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 68 - The Search for the Lost Fly

Dust off your fedora and grab your whips. Today I'm on an adventure for the lost fly.


Yesterday I mentioned that I'd like to find a forgotten fly pattern. One which history has forgotten and anglers can no longer recognize as a proven trout getter. Since yesterday my mind has been swarming around the idea of a possible "secret forgotten" fly. As always, I'm on the hunt for the Holy Grail of flies.

Now before I begin, I have to admit that the odds are stacked against me in my pursuit. Let's face it, if an old pattern is a proven trout catcher, would it have been forgotten? Patterns like the Adams and the Royal Coachman are a testament to this logic. So, how does one find a forgotten pattern that still produces fish?

Time to blow off the dust off the cover of the "Fish Flies: The Encyclopedia of the Fly Tier's Art" by Terry Hellekson. To me this is the first place I go to search for fly patterns. With just shy of 3,000 patterns, a handful of full color plates, and ranging from wet flies to nymphs to dry flies it is definitely the first place to start looking for a "Lost Fly".

Now before we begin, we have to have an idea of what we are looking for. Are we looking for a dry fly pattern? A nymph? Wet fly? If you don't know, then you are the one that is lost. For me, I tend to be a card carrying member of the wet fly/nymph club. Purists will tell me that I'm on the wrong side of this debate, and I will calmly tell them that the wet fly came before the dry fly (so put that in your hat and sit on it). This doesn't mean I don't like to catch trout on the dry, but when fish feed 90% sub surface... can you blame me?

I think part of the search has to do with the name of the fly. When you're on the stream and hammering fish when no one else is and you get the question, "What are they biting on?" After suppressing the statement, "The end of my line," wouldn't it just be grand to say a #16 Lindgren's Woodduck or #12 Spitfire or even a #8 Dark Assum Dragon? Wouldn't that propel you into fly fishing infamy? "Yes it would," you say with a smile.

Now here comes the hard part. Like any good quest it must require some sort of trial. It has to be searched out, tied, tested, and the retested. It has to produce under typical and non-typical situations. It not only has to work on Joe's farm pond, but it has to produce on the freestone stream, the mountain lake, and any other place that fish are at and you're likely to be at.

"No problem," someone might say. Don't listen to them, they're an idiot. The annals of history have lost more effective fly patterns than a person can tie. This giant book that is sitting next to me is full of patterns that someone, somewhere was able to produce fish on. They say that fish don't learn, and I say that's a load of crap. Anyone who has caught fish behind the stocking truck and then returned two weeks later to fish the same section will tell you this: Fish learn quickly!

And so on with the search. I've narrowed it down to either a wet fly pattern or a nymph pattern. But where to next? Do I start out with the ones that look like the ones that I normally fish, or do I go bold and tie a big hairy abomination of a fly? Do I choose a pattern with a mundane name like the Medium Emerger or go fancy like the Red Sheep Creek Special?

Then comes the hard part of putting the fly to the test. Maybe I'll tie a few and send some out to you all, and get your feedback? What say you?

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