After a lot of time on the water, I’ve simplified my fly selection with two easy systems.
When I first started fly fishing some 46 years ago, both our gear and our knowledge were primitive by today’s standards.
In fact, at that time, the sport was all about fishing for three species: trout, steelhead, and salmon. When it came to trout fishing, a method of dry fly fishing called “match-the-hatch” came to be the mantra repeated by fly fishing authors and outdoor writers wherever fly fishing was practiced.
More Fly Fishing PostsMay: The Magic Month for North Carolina Fly Fishing
However, it has been my experience that much of the wisdom professed by the “general consensus of fly fishermen everywhere” is not always correct. As a result, I have discarded this outdated notion and developed two fly selection systems of my own that I find work much better than the standard approach.
What if I told you that instead of obtaining an aquatic insect hatch chart for your area, and then purchasing all of the individual fly patterns you would need to imitate each species listed on your chart, you could instead fit every dry fly you need to match most any hatch into just two fly boxes using my systems?
Now, the first thing to understand is that instead of focusing on matching a specific species of aquatic insect, I instead focus on the family and the genus, along with the size and color. That way, I don’t have to learn Latin to select an appropriate fly!
My first question upon sighting an aquatic insect over a stream is to ask whether it is a may fly, caddis fly, stone fly, or damsel fly. Then, I look more closely to note what size and color it is.
I like to call this first selection process the “Six-Color Imitator System,” because it consists of six flies in common colors. I use cream, yellow, green, gray, brown, and black. The flies, all size 12, are the Light Cahills, Sulpher Duns, Blue Winged Olives, Female Adams, March Browns, and Black Gnats.
The second class of flies, aptly called Attractors, bring in the trout and trigger them to strike. I’ve found trout to love flies containing the colors red, yellow, and green, easy to remember because they’re the colors found in a stoplight.
Thus, I like to call my second fly selection system the “Three-Color Attractor System.” It consist of size 12 Stimulators and Elk Hair Caddis in red, yellow, and green as well as Wulff flies like the Royal Wulffs, Carolina Wulffs, and Tennessee Wulffs.
Most likely, flies that satisfy both systems will fit in a single, 18 compartment Myran fly box. By carrying an additional smaller, 12 compartment Myran box, I can carry most of the same patterns in size 14 and size 16. Thus, with only two fly boxes, I am armed for most any hatch I may possibly encounter.
If you are frustrated at having to carry numerous fly boxes and a seemingly endless number of fly patterns, then discard that old way of thought and give my two fly selection systems a try.
Share your own personal fly selection pointers below in the comments.