Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than todays modern counterparts; limited by materials available and the tiers imagination.

Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish the flies. Perhaps . . .

Part Eighteen

Prey Selection As Influenced By Inter Search Pattern Color Transfers

Pale Morning Dun, Spinner

Photo by Al Campbell

By "Old Rupe"

The question is always first. Why do nymphs that are colored essentially the same end up being tied by almost everyone in similar but different colors. Blue winged olives are tied green, but the natural isn't green as portrayed in any book I have seen. Dortheas and pale morning duns are tied yellow, but photographs of the naturals show them brown. Hendricksons are tied reddish but the natural is brown. When sharp people are asked the common answer is, "because they work." Still that doesn't answer the question of, "why do they work?"

Trout, in the normal course of their existence, must during any hatch have at least several search patterns present. One for each stage of the insects life cycle, and also in some cases a pattern for the insects eggs. That is three to four search patterns that are present and used every day. These patterns are not even similar. Each day it is the same cycle. Nymph, dun, emerger, spinner and egg.

In a search pattern the more components that are stimulated the more likely the trout is to eat the insect. Now comes the tale. Instead of matching just one search pattern the trick is to add things from as many of the search patterns present as possible so as to have an "unbeatable imitation." Add the distinctive color of the dun to the nymph search pattern for the blue winged olive, but not so green as to scare the fish. At that time you have stimulated two search patterns. With a little thought a nymph should have something from all three or four food groups.

Trout's view of Hendrickson

Major factors such as size and general appearance won't transfer. They will just diminish the dominant search pattern. It is really a building thing. Start with the basic search pattern and add what you can. The color of the spinner in the Hendrickson, the color of the dun in the blue winged olive and the pale morning dun. The color of the dun in the Dorthea hatch and also the shine of the duns wings.

In order to be a successful designer a fly-fisher has to understand what is involved in each trout search pattern and be able to steal a little from each part of the cycle to arrive at a nymph that will tickle each pattern a little without diminishing the main pattern. Color seems to transfer easily between search patterns. I would guess that the sharp observer would find other transfers I've missed. The key seems to be to augment the main pattern without diminishing it.

I have also noticed that adjacent hatches of radically different size are susceptible to the color transfer of the dominant pattern of the previous hatch. Early on in a hatch a fly representating the dun as to size with the color of the previous hatch can be a killer. Even if the sizes of the naturals are different. The artificial steals from two different search patterns. One plus one equals three if you can pick up enough from the previous hatch.

Since there are always multiple search patterns present in the trout brain the sharp tier would try to access positive aspects of several hatches and incorporate them into the final product along with the always present search keys like motion, legs and so on. Many of our most popular flies owe their success to the fact that they have stolen key aspects of several hatches.

Tie those flies with the dominant color of the hatch. Then as Micky Dee says, "super size it," or more to the point, enhance the color so as to drag everything you can from the color act.~ "Old Rupe"

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