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Thread: Fly Selection a Must Read

  1. #1
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Rifle River MI

    Default Fly Selection a Must Read

    I will more than likley regret doing this however it is winter!!!!!!!

    I have written a little something be it bad or good that may help some understand or simplify the process of Fly Selection. Remember these a genreal rules with generalized statements enjoy the read!

    Fly Selection: Keeping it Simple

    Over the years the most common question asked to me, or my guides is what flies should I bring or use, and of course there are no correct answers unless you fishing a specific hatch on a specific river at a specific time and example of that would be the Hendrickson Hatch on most Mid Western and Eastern Streams. It is a problem that has plagued us all over the course of our Fly Fishing lives. In this small article I will try to explain a simple method of answering that question. Remember I use these a general rules and by no way are they the “catch all” sorry for the pun, but an easy way to sort out some of the more complicated problems when choosing flies for most areas.

    The principle you can utilize in any stream, and or lake speaking generically including Alaska Waters on any given day in just about any given stream, creek, slough, or Lake is Attractor Patterns Bottom Line is there are ample attractor patterns that cover a wide variety Entomology that will increase your fishing success without going through the pains of selecting a specific fly for a specific reason. That is not to say that at certain times of the year your fishing success will not increase if you match the hatch such as Rainbow fishing during Salmon Spawning runs with egg patterns or flesh flies. Just that there are some general rules that simplify the process of selecting patterns for your ever day fly fishing as well as exceptions that will be slightly written about.

    I like to break it down into four categories while giving emphasis on two of them Food Insects and Predatory Insects. I also like to concentrate on sub-surface fishing because of the relative minimum time fish spend above surface feeding compared to what action takes place under the water.

    Sub Surface: The first general rule I like to teach all beginning students is that there are Food Insects “those insects that are food for other insects” as well as fish, and Predatory Insects “ Those insects that eat other insects” and are as well eaten by fish. I will not go in-depth into Bait Fish however they also have merit while discussing attractor patterns.

    Food Insects can have a general label and are normally the most plentiful insects with in a water system. I lump several like insects into this category for two reasons; first is their pupa or nymphal stages are similar in shape, color and sizes examples would be Caddis, Midges, Chrominids, and Mosquitoes. Second there tend to be more of this type of insect then your standard May Flies of course the water your fishing may have varying degree of biodiversity, but I use it as a general rule of thumb.

    Most of the above listed insects can be represented by selecting two standard patterns on today’s market a Brassie with or with out a bead head, and collar variations in various sizes, and 16-10, and a standard scud hook style Hares Ear Nymph various colors size 14-10. If you your fishing calls for deeper depths change your normal brass bead out for a Tungsten bead.

    Predatory Insects can also have a general label and are normally not as plentiful as food insects however they are large and provide more of a meal for fish and are therefore normally sought out by Trout and Grayling. I list predatory insects as Crain Flies, Dragon Flies, Damsel Flies, and Stone Flies. Each one of these insects are much larger in their nymph stage compared to any food type of insect and can found in most waters including Alaska. On certain streams such as the Gulkana you will find them in abundance throughout the summer season. These insects can be imitated with a couple of variations of the standard Woolley Bugger with or with out cones, and bead in optional colors and sizes. They should be fished deep because they are also crawling insects that cling to rocks and weeds near the bottom of the stream “They are not good swimmers”.

    Bait Fish attractor patterns can be summed up to variations of Clouser Minnows. Size 6-2/0 from White to Lime Green you can closely imitate just about any stream or lake bait fish available. That is not to say there are not more effective patterns during certain periods of the year just that you can carry one particular fly on a constant basis and effectively fish most water.

    Floating Flies Food and Predatory Patterns: Again to simplify the process you can pare down the amount of flies you carry on any fishing adventure if you’re not targeting a specific hatch. I carry Griffith Gnat size 12-18, Elk Hair Caddis size 10-16, Royal Coachman Trude size 8-16, and sparsely tied Royal Wulff size 10-16. The selection of these patterns are based on the ability to fish both flat and pocket water.

    Again the above statement is base don a general statement lumping a bulk of the insects into a large category to pair down the amount of flies you must have to carry to fish. That is not to say you should not Match the Hatch when required but simply put you can have successful fishing without becoming frustrated selecting fly patterns during you’re trip.

    Fly Selection for your adventure:

    Bead Head Brassie Black and olive Collar – size 10-16
    Bead Head Hare’s Ear Scud hook – size 10-14
    Woolly Bugger Olive, White, and Black – size 4-8
    Woolly Bugger Cone or Bead Head same colors – size 4-8
    Clouser Minnow color variations – size 6-2/0
    Griffith Gnat – Size 12-18
    Caddis color variations – size 10-16
    Royal Trude (down wing Coachman) size 8-16
    Royal Wulff size 10-16

    ALASKAN Exception: Beads, Egg Patterns, and Flesh Flies. There are number of flies that also work well for salmon to include articulating egg sucking leeches

  2. #2
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Dec 2007


    Came across this a few days ago when searching through the back issues... 3 years ago to the date! Some pretty good advise from Moose that I'm sure many could benefit from.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    North Pole, AK


    Nice! Thanks for the bump!

  4. #4

    Default Good Info.

    That's a real informative post by BlueMoose, thanks for bringing it back up. Good to see Royal Trude's on the list, that's been one of the most productive dry patterns I've found up here for Grayling and Rainbows. I've had excellent luck with Lime Trude's as well when the Royal's seem to be slow.

  5. #5
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Eagle River

    Default Wise, experienced words...

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMoose View Post
    ...I carry Griffith Gnat size 12-18, Elk Hair Caddis size 10-16, Royal Coachman Trude size 8-16, and sparsely tied Royal Wulff size 10-16....
    Bet you could meet a lot of fish with just those flies! Moose has shared some interesting knowledge about fishing that neck of the woods. One Spring, early - my daughter and I got mostly skunked up the Richardson. "The fish start biting when ants fly", Moose told me when I told him the story. It may be stone flies, or some other "ants", but it made sense for timing early season fish. There were plenty of fish, but none would bite. Couple weeks later, up the Talkeetna, I saw "ants fly".

    "They should be fished deep because they are also crawling insects that cling to rocks and weeds near the bottom of the stream 'They are not good swimmers...'" That makes sense too!

    Great stuff in the archives. Thanks, Moose!... and Wyo2AK!

  6. #6
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Rifle River MI

    Default Blush Blush

    Thanks guys. You know I just might be crazy enough to make that work all the time that is flying ants. :-) Funny thing is when I had a friend come up from MT this year and we spent several days fishing the Kenia and Russian. I must have been the only fool that week fishing Woolley Buggers on the Russian becuase people kept looking at me like hey I think that dude has lost it! Funny how Reds are not afraid of them and how rainbows seem to find them as well. Now if they oculd just keep stupid bears away!

    Again thanks! That post makes me feel old!

    Tight Lines and Best Wishes

    Hard to believe pushing 34 above out up north.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    I would only add mosquito and sculpin to your list, they are just two of my favorites
    River Runnin


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