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Thread: Fly Selection a Must Read

  1. #1
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Fly Selection a Must Read

    I posted this on the Fly Fishing Forum as well hopefully someone will find it useful on this forum. 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
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    I'd fish one of the following in any situations
    sz. 10 stimulator
    sz. 18 adams
    sz. 6 purple ESL
    sz. 1/0 Flash Fly
    sz. 2 blue and black clouser
    sz. 12 gold ribbed hares ear
    sz. 1/0 Nicholai's Super-fantastic The King Fly
    6mm rootbeer bead
    size 6 olive wooly bugger

    the first for grayling, the second for picky bows feeding on the surface, the third for anything, the fourth for any salmon, the fitch for anything in saltwater, the fourth for any trout not feeding on the surface, the next as the name implies for kings, the next for when salmon are spawning and the last for trout in lakes.

    I think the only reason I ever fish anything else is because I like to tie lots of different things
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    as a brand new fly tyer (and sometimes impatient one) i find this very helpful, and am on my way to get some more materials suitable for these flies i did not see, however, and leech or sculpin patterns which i hear are killers on bows in the kenai, any help here?

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Sculpin Pattern Kenai

    Quote Originally Posted by lanebrent View Post
    as a brand new fly tyer (and sometimes impatient one) i find this very helpful, and am on my way to get some more materials suitable for these flies i did not see, however, and leech or sculpin patterns which i hear are killers on bows in the kenai, any help here?
    Purple Muddler headed Scuplin Pattern, or Wool Head Sculpin in Purple, Olive and Black weighted size 2-4 fished deep and on the dead drift. When in Rome do as the Roman's.

  5. #5
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    The easiest and best sculpin pattern I've encountered is a rag sculpin with raffia fins, simple fast and effective (although a bit expensive)
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    okay, sounds pretty good to me now, any ideas on fly tying instructional dvds? i have a pretty good dry fly dvd, but need some help on the leeches, muddlers, etc. perhaps some good websites with video?

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    You'll find a lot of such patterns on line with excellent instructions but probably not the videos as that requires high bandwidth. You might start with http://www.akflyfishers.com and look at their patterns, and then use google to expand from there. You could tie every day for 24 hours a day with the info that's on the web these days.

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    I'll make you some intructional vids next monday if you want, what patterns do you want to learn
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  9. #9

    Default Nicholai's Super-fantastic The King Fly

    Would really like to see a picture of this fly!

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