03/05/11 – Searching flies are a big part of my fly fishing. While I like to fish old haunts I also like to find new ones. The big problem with new ones is that it takes awhile to become familiar enough to know where the most productive spots are. You know – familiar enough to know that if I work a particular section of water I’m likely to pull a fish out of it.
One way I find the good spots is to try almost EVERY spot – likely looking or not and when I find time to search a stream or river like that it’s often not hatch time.
So out come the SEARCHING FLIES my old friends that float well, are big enough to track on the water and suggestive enough of food sources so that they interest trout. I lean heavily on the advise of my good friend Jim Thibodeau who says all you need to do if you want to catch trout is make them curious because “they got no hands you know!”
His theory has accounted for a lot of fish. If you can get them to come look there’s a high probability they’ll just have to taste it to see if it is food and if you’re paying attention that taste is all you need. Flies like the Indicator fly on the left are perfect for searching. It has great colors (the brown and grizzly of an Adams and the rusty brown of the thorax area is just a color I have faith in) and it is VERY visible with the white downwing. Add in those rubber, bouncy legs and you’ve got movement as well – all those features combing to make this an interesting bit of flotsam that just might be food. Oh, and did I mention that it floats well.
The Indicator fly is a great one for broken water. Its ability to bob back to the surface after being pulled under allows it to rank right up there with the Ausable Bomber as a pocket water probing producer. The other big thing about those two flies is the fact that they are robust. They are big of body and while they float nicely they also float low enough in the surface film to give the trout or salmon a good look in the brief time they sit in the pocket.
Both of them also are buoyant enough to serve the double purpose of suspending another fly along with being interesting. In fact the floatability of the Indicator Fly is what gave the fly it’s name. With that foam cap the Indicator fly beats out my old favorite the Ausable Bomber if I’m fishing a dropper.
Those two flies really do the job in long runs for broken water and in cascades. But when I come to pockets of mild riffles dumping into pools or long glides and I’m in the search mode out comes another old favorite of mine and that’s the Bivisible. The Bivisible is a light, dancing fly. One of those that will skate and bounce if you pull it lightly across the current. It isn’t a fly I generally fish far off. The further away it is the more fly line you have on the water and the more fly line you have on the water the harder it is for this fly to dance. So I generally short line this fly and only have a few feet of fly line (if any) on the water. It’s a rare thing (generally wind driven) when I fish this fly with a leader shorter than 10-feet.
All three of these flies have similar characteristics – their floatability, skate-ability, buggy look and visibility make them perfectly suited for the search and catch mission I often send them on, especially if I pay attention to water types. However, as I mentioned a couple of Thursday’s back Ed Engle’s new book “Trout Lessons” has me looking forward to this next season because I’ve got a new searching pattern to try and it’s not a pattern I ever thought of as a good searching fly – it’s a SPENT WING MAYFLY.
Engle found that dropping a spinner into quite eddies or close to the shore in slack water often brought him a strike that he wasn’t expecting. It happened to him often enough to become a regular use of a spent wing pattern – a fly he said he never considered a searching pattern either.
Like many “discoveries” Engle said this one just happened. He was just playing around one day and happened to tie on a Spinner and it worked. So on another occasion he tried it again and it worked again and that happened often enough to adopt it as a go to technique. I can’t wait to try it after the hatches start.
Another reason I want to try spinners as a searching pattern is that the Snowshoe Spinner in on my list of new patterns to tie up and try this summer. Orvis just listed this one in their catalog and when I saw the picture I decided I had to try it.
Snowshoe Rabbit is one of my favorite materials and with a Rust Colored body this fly has to be effective. If you tie and want to tie some up here’s the recipe:
Hook: 2X dry fly hook for sizes 8-16 and standard dry fly hooks 18-24
Wing: Fur from snowshoe rabbit’s feet, tied divided and spent
Body: Orvis Spectablend Dry fly dubbing in tan, dark mahogany, black or olive.
Tail: Microfibbetts tied split
That’s my kind of fly – I’ve got faith in the materials – it’s easy to tie and it should be durable.