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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Given that now I have fully immersed myself in Euro style of nymphing and almost exclusively use this method everywhere I go, I always appreciate how simple the recipes are for these patterns. You have to be fine with losing more flies with this method compared to nymphing with indicators that suspend flies in the water. They need to not only be quick and easy to tie but also be effective.

One example of this would be with Perdigon style of nymphs where there usually is a tail, thread body and a wing case consisting of black nail polish. The body and head then is treated with UV resin and the fly is complete. I have yet to fish one but this seems very primitive compared to most other baetis patterns.

Other Euro style of nymphs usually incorporate some form of tailing material, wire or thread rib, dubbed or thread bodies and spikey dubbing for the abdomen. Compare this to what you might see commercially tied which require much more steps and materials to complete.

I have no doubt that you can mimic most food forms (barring minnow patterns) with dubbing and the use of deer or elk hair. Keep the hair short and you can cover all emerger and adult mayfly patterns. Keep it longer and tie it tented and you have caddis flies covered and even keep it longer yet and now you have your hopper, salmon and stonefly patterns. Change the color of your dubbing and maybe add a wire rib if you ate your Wheaties that day and you can have a box of flies cranked out for any place that holds trout.

I overhead one fly fisherman once say that “It’s probably been a decade since I fished a Hare’s Ear since that pattern is old and the fish have seen it so much that they are trained to not eat it”. I about #$%$ my pants since this simple pattern tied slim or fat can mimic so much of a trout’s daily diet. You can even get more basic and tie a similar pattern called a Walt’s worm and it can still be deadly.

I get that if all fly shops carried were two patterns then they would not have any business and that most if not all fly patterns are designed to catch the fisherman not necessarily the fish.

My question is that have you ever experienced a time where a fish showed preference for patterns that are much more complex? My thought is that if the presentation is the same and all other things are equal then the fish will prefer a fly based on specific triggers for instance if its body is somewhat submerged showing vulnerability vs one that is riding high and dry. As a tier, I want to identify these triggers and incorporate them into my creations.
 

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I fish lakes a lot and now only carry one leech pattern in olive, black, burgundy and red. I carry one mayfly nymph. One damsel in four shades. One dragonfly nymph in four shades. One dry ant pattern. One water boatman pattern. Two caddis pupae and a wet fly that I fish as a caddis pupae. A Tom Thumb in various sizes and colours and elk hair caddis in various sizes and colours.

These flies are all fairly quick to tie and use minimal materials. Everything goes to hell in a handcart when it comes to chironomids. I have one larvae in green and red but way too many pupae patterns in various colours and styles. I counted over 800 I was carrying once. They don't make me a better fisher but at least I'm prepared.

Hopefully.

The mainstay of my patterns, other than the chironomids, are representative of what I need and I fish them in a way that makes them attractive. I do not tie any that are complicated. My damsel and mayflies don't even have legs but they work because I use them when that's what the fish are on to and I fish them as they should be fished, and where they should be fished. Some people tie flies that look like they'll bite you and I admire that but my stuff works for me and that's what I think is important.

Another thing that I do is carry a dark brown and a dark olive felt pen with me. A few touches will sometimes make the day.
 

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My trout experience is limited but I've always done OK with simple patterns both nymphs and dries. For steelhead and salmon I'd say simple definitely works. I can tie my go-to steelhead pattern in little over a minute.

To derail a bit from the context of river fishing. Where I have found "complex" to make a difference is with some saltwater fish. Actually "realistic" is a more fitting term here. Although tying a realistic pattern can be complex, so that's kinda the same thing.

At any rate, I think there's some degree of irony that saltwater fish are (generally) perceived as being indiscriminate feeders, vs freshwater fish like trout being super-picky that want intricately tied works of art. IMO most saltwater patterns (some permit and bonefish flies excepted) have a very utilitarian look in comparison to trout, steelhead/salmon patterns. Not that these tried and true saltwater flies aren't attractive or aesthetically appealing. Just lacking much of the complexity that goes into most flies intended for river use.

Using albacore as an example, they can be every bit as selective as trout keyed on a hatch. Unfortunately the need to "match the hatch" with these fish is masked by the offshore SOP of chumming the fish into a frenzy. This tactic creates an artificial hatch which resets whatever they were naturally keyed on in the first place. This reinforces the idea that they aren't worthy fly-fishing quarry in the full sense of the term. Yet without chum, having a fly that looks extremely close to what they have been, or are feeding on, and presenting it correctly, can make all the difference. Too many times I've dropped flies smack in the middle of boiling fish with no takes, or watched them make high-speed passes at the fly 30' down then turn away at the last moment.

So yes, in my experience complex matters. Just not for the species typically associated with such patterns.
 

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If you are fishing rivers then being willing to lose flies is a much bigger advantage than realism. Give me a dozen basic flies over 6 realistic flies any day. I want those things down swirling amongst the rocks much more than I care how they look.
 

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I'm mostly into simple but do recognize that there are specifics that are necessary for some flies to work.
Sometimes the specifics are in the realm of presentation - more often than not my deficiency - but occasionally in the fly pattern.
There is so much satisfaction in fishing a fly that I've tied it drives me to try new patterns and materials. More than half an hour tying a pattern usually forces me to tie something easier.
The only fly I regret loosing is the one that has caught 6 fish and I didn't retie it on a fresh section of tippet. I kick myself when I haven't the self control to retie after three fish.
No tippet should be expected to withstand the abrasion of more than 3 fish.
My sage (old experience) advice for today.
 

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Simple has been my experience with tight lining. The same pattern can be plowed through the same run several times before hooking up. I believe its putting the bug, nearly any bug, in the right zone in the fishes grill that triggers a strike.

Plus those beauties which take so long to tie puts too much pressure and my fishing is hesitant due to fear of losing the bug.
 

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I fish lakes a lot and now only carry one leech pattern in olive, black, burgundy and red. I carry one mayfly nymph. One damsel in four shades. One dragonfly nymph in four shades. One dry ant pattern. One water boatman pattern. Two caddis pupae and a wet fly that I fish as a caddis pupae. A Tom Thumb in various sizes and colours and elk hair caddis in various sizes and colours.

These flies are all fairly quick to tie and use minimal materials. Everything goes to hell in a handcart when it comes to chironomids. I have one larvae in green and red but way too many pupae patterns in various colours and styles. I counted over 800 I was carrying once. They don't make me a better fisher but at least I'm prepared.

Hopefully.

The mainstay of my patterns, other than the chironomids, are representative of what I need and I fish them in a way that makes them attractive. I do not tie any that are complicated. My damsel and mayflies don't even have legs but they work because I use them when that's what the fish are on to and I fish them as they should be fished, and where they should be fished. Some people tie flies that look like they'll bite you and I admire that but my stuff works for me and that's what I think is important.

Another thing that I do is carry a dark brown and a dark olive felt pen with me. A few touches will sometimes make the day.
I would be very interested in seeing images of these fly choices. ( not the chironomids, I totally relate)

I have a go to box of flies for lakes but I ruined it by cramming too many optional patterns in it - I plan to start over on it, with a new box, including just the proven patterns - but I still have gaps where I have not found a proven pattern to my satisfaction.

Jay
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Great discussion so far. Being honest when the Pat's Stone pattern started becoming popular, I dismissed it as being too primitive and ugly and had little confidence in it. After having plenty of banner days with this bug, it's earned a permanent spot in my box. My thought is why tie a more complex pattern that will take you more time and cost you more.

Here is another example:
Insect Arthropod Pest Centipede Terrestrial plant
Insect Arthropod Pest Parasite Grass


Does one out perform the other? Who knows but I know which one I would rather tie a dozen of or lose on the far bank in the brush.

I enjoy watching Oliver Edwards but I wonder how much of the details he uses in his flies really matter even for those selective trout on an English chalk stream.
 

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You can get so complex and goose egg all day. Then throw a wooly bugger or pats stone and land fish all day.

Just like asking an attorney or consultant for their opinion... "it depends"

Some days a steak sounds delicious, other days a burger. But a baked potato can definitely hit the spot. Again. It depends.

Sent from my mobile device.
 

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Great discussion so far. Being honest when the Pat's Stone pattern started becoming popular, I dismissed it as being too primitive and ugly and had little confidence in it. After having plenty of banner days with this bug, it's earned a permanent spot in my box. My thought is why tie a more complex pattern that will take you more time and cost you more.

Here is another example:
View attachment 137663 View attachment 137664

Does one out perform the other? Who knows but I know which one I would rather tie a dozen of or lose on the far bank in the brush.

I enjoy watching Oliver Edwards but I wonder how much of the details he uses in his flies really matter even for those selective trout on an English chalk stream.
That's a killer looking pattern! As to the OP's question, I would say that both simple and more detailed work about the same for me. A good example is Pat's Stone vs. Kauffman Stone.
 

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I'm not really too sure if one is any more efficient then the other from a pattern stand point. I think pattern can matter to a extent, but presentation rules...Most of the nymphs that i use are fairly simple ties, a bit more then the czech or euro nymphs, but not complicated. No more steps then tying a pt.
Funny on the pats stone, i never used to fish it either. But i hated tying more complex stonefly nymph patterns. I was never happy with the results. I finally used some and they worked just fine.
 

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Frank Sawyer's PT nymph and his Killer Bug. Two of the most time tested and effective flies ever devised.

See Davey McPhail on utube.

TC
 

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I overhead one fly fisherman once say that "It's probably been a decade since I fished a Hare's Ear since that pattern is old and the fish have seen it so much that they are trained to not eat it".
That's ridiculous. A fish does not have the ability to learn over time not to try and eat a Hare's Ear. The only reason a pattern falls out of favor is due to the anglers, not the fish.

I tie my patterns as simple as possible with the least amount of materials I can get away with. Works for me. I have yet to come across a situation that requires a very complicated pattern to catch fish that a simple pattern will not.

It's been my experience that a "model insect" does not fool any more fish than a representation of something fish normally eats or would be interested in trying to eat.
 

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Simple flies catch fish, complex flies catch fishermen.

I remember, a few years ago, while doing quite well with the very plain and simple Renegade, being asked about what I was using by another flyfisherman having a slow day.

When I said "a Renegade" he laughed and replied, "Those don't work anymore". What an asshat.

The pattern works as well today as did 80 years ago, and will still be performing admirably 200 years from now (if trout still exist).
 
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