Fly pattern details

Fly pattern details

Viking Lars | Saturday, 26 December 2020

There’s an interesting thread on the Board on the importance of details in fly patterns - the importance of precise imitation against semi-realistic against impressionistic, I suppose. This discussion is as old as fly fishing. I really don’t believe that there can ever be a consensus, because there are so many factors involved

The thread began on crab patterns, and I know very little about crab patterns and fishing. I did happen upon a video some time ago (and I spent a long time finding it again, so please go watch it :-), where some people fishing for indo-pacific permit argues that the Alphlexo Crab pattern made a big difference in their succes rates.

And here’s one of the variables already: Some fish are just renowned for being harder to catch and in the video above they mention the acute vision of the permit as a factor.

An *very* important factor is of course presentation, in several ways: The right time (season), the right timing (especially trout and grayling can rise in precise intervals in a heavy hatch), the presentation itself (drag free, proper landing of the fly, proper behaviour, drag-free vs. streaming, for instance), the right depth (many species can be found feeding in specific water depths, depending on what they feed on) and so on.

And of course fly patterns matter. And I’m not only talking about how even the most perfectly presented 15” pike fly will spook a trout into the next water system. The Danica-hatch is great - it draws the big fish to the surface. But you’ll also experience that into a 3-week long hatch, they’re no longer as eager to take the impressionistic French Partridge I usually use. A more precise imitation with an extended body and a clearer profile does better (not necessarily at catching them as the extended body usually leeds to less hook-ups).

When fish are under a higher fishing pressure fly patterns (together with better presentations that the rest of the people fishing the same water) *will* catch more fish in my experience - at least under certain conditions. A late summer Blue Winged Olive-hatch can draw the attention of even bigger fish as they sometimes hatch in huge numbers. They like slow(er) water, giving the fish time to inspect. Also under these conditions I also find that a fly with a clearer profile often does better than a more impressionistic one.

But let’s say that your fly is at least in some sort of ball park, I’d rank factors in this order:
Appropriate leader.
Fly size.
Fly profile.
Fly colour.

But there’s also no doubt that fly pattern details matter less on a rarely fished tack country river than it does in a southern English chalk stream. And don’t get me started on mullet - f…, they’re hard to catch and imitating algae/sea weed is imperative (not unlike milk fish, I think). I’ve even seen pike get pattern shy. I was part of a consortium once, where the pike fishing was excellent to begin with and they took more or less anything we threw at them. And the pike just got harder and harder to catch, until they were *very* hard to catch. And then they “forget” if you leave them alone for a few years. And what we should have done then, and learned from, is of course to fish such a water much less and keep the fishing good, most importantly for the sake of the fish, because there’s little doubt that they we stressed.

In the PoD, an excellent pattern for picky trout and grayling. A burned wing technique taught to me by my friend, Dennis Jensen and his father,. Richard Jensen, many years ago.

Have a great weekend, and I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!