Pattern Wilted Spinach


Here's an interesting subsurface pattern I tied as a demonstration pattern at the Oregon FFF Flytyer and Flyfisher Expo many years ago. This was the handout. The name is misleading. You'd think the fly would be a green color. Story goes, John's wife was cooking wilted spinach when he originated the pattern so he decided to name it for what she was cooking.

I've only tried it in stillwaters and in size 18. The first time I tried the guy, it was a hit with the trout at a private flyfishing lake. For some reason (at least in stillwaters), it works best during midge hatches but looks nothing like a midge emerger. Go figure.

This pattern is todays flytying project. Sooner or later Spring will show up and I'll be back in the pontoon boat on lakes.



Yeah, a large version of the pattern could represent an October Caddis. But the WS are relatively tiny. I'm also not sure what's up with the loop tail but I do know the pattern doesn't work without it. I have no clue what the trout see in the tail.
Gene, this is one of my favorite patterns. I also only fish it in very small sizes. Have used it sight fishing in Stillwater and in small spring creeks in slow water to feeding fish! Little known paternal but I love it. I also only use it with the tail/shuck loops.


Yup, that explains it! You are correct in where the pattern works quite well.

I haven't been to RHL in ages. I'm not sure if Larry still has any trout remaining in the lake.
Yup, that explains it! You are correct in where the pattern works quite well.

I haven't been to RHL in ages. I'm not sure if Larry still has any trout remaining in the lake.
Yeah, I heard he was having problems with the fish/lake....didn't hear what the problems were. But I heard it wasn't fishing at all. Kind of sad, it was a fun little lake.


I've known Larry for many years and he's had constant problems at the lake. It really is a tad too small for more than two guys to fish at once. Sometimes he has problems with osprey taking the fish. The hawks normally keep the osprey at bay but sometimes the hawks don't build nests in the trees that line the shallow lake so the osprey wipe out the lake PDQ.

Another year he had problems with otters eating all the fish. Another year a toxic allege bloom did it in. It's expensive to keep replanting the lake and feed the trout. I encouraged him to stop feeding the trout so they'd take flies. That's when he built the spawning channel so the trout would reproduce on their own. During another year, the pipes came lose that were used to pump water into the spawning channel.

Originally, the lake was a catch and kill spin fishing lake but Larry got tired of the mess the anglers left behind. That's when he turned it into flyfishing only and I started giving him advise on what fly anglers want when it comes to a pay to play fishery. During the first years, spin guys would sneak in and catch and kill the trout when Larry wasn't around so that was another problem.

I believe his website is still up and running. The majority of photos on the site were taken by me and include folks I've mentioned here... including Gin. But Virginia never really liked fishing there because she felt the lake was too small and it wasn't like "real fishing". I pointed out to her the majority of fish she caught at East were planted so there was really no difference.

Sigh. It's a shame. At one point we'd catch a lot of 18-20-inch trout at RHL and they fought like the dickens. That's during the time John Bartlett first showed me the Wilted Spinach and we found how great it worked.

Virginia at RHL.

GAT, Somebody gave me that fly a couple years ago in Idaho. It was small, probably a 16. Fished in the slower pools on the Selway it killed, then a fish decided to keep it. Thanks for reminding me about a great little pattern. I tied up a few last night using CDL hen as the hackle.


Truthfully, I've never tried the pattern in a river. Yet river fishing is what John designed it for while he was living in Montana. It was later that he found that it also works in stillwaters. I do the best with sizes 16-18. The trout don't seem to like them tied any larger.


Active Member
I have used it on the NF Clearwater and it worked very well. I like to use soft hackles until the hatch starts coming off and this one gets used.


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Hi Gene,
My first thought was "October caddis" as well, but as you point out, the size is way off (and stillwater to boot). What do you think that this pattern imitates? Or is it acting as an attractor? Under what conditions do you select this one out of the many options that are in your fly box?



The pattern seems to work best in stillwaters with large midge hatches. I don't know what it looks like to a fish. The color and design are all wrong for imitating a midge emerger but the size is correct for that representation. Maybe it is just an attractor. It's one of those patterns that why it works isn't clear but it does so I don't ask too many questions.

I've used it with an intermediate sinking line and a dry line with an indicator. Sometimes you don't even need the indicator. Once it sinks below the surface it becomes fair game.

It works before, after and during a midge hatch. So evidently, midges have something to do with why it works in stillwaters. As far as moving water goes, I have no clue what the fish think it is.

I also have no clue what the trout think a Royal Wulff is either but it also works in rivers.