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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Lateral view of a Psychodidae True Fly Larva from Mystery Creek #308 in Washington
This wild-looking little thing completely puzzled me. At first I was thinking beetle or month larva, until I got a look at the pictures on the computer screen. I made a couple of incorrect guesses before entomologist Greg Courtney pointed me in the right direction with Psychodidae. He suggested a possible genus of Thornburghiella, but could not rule out some other members of the tribe Pericomini.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.


Posts: 115
Trtklr on Aug 14, 2008August 14th, 2008, 10:12 am EDT
I'm curious as to what type of flies people use most. I probably use dries 80% of the time, nymphs almost the rest, and woolly buggers, streamers and the like very little. The latter I've heard and read to be the better for catching bigger and sometimes more trout. I feel using a streamer or a woolly bugger is almost the same as casting a spinner, though I understand these are harder to fish than a spinner.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
Mcjames on Aug 15, 2008August 15th, 2008, 4:59 am EDT
fascinating... I am exactly the opposite... nymphs 90% of the time, dries 9%... woolly bugger 1%... (when fishing for trout)...
I am haunted by waters

Posts: 24
HighFlyer on Aug 15, 2008August 15th, 2008, 6:22 am EDT
So would a Wooly Bugger, in your opinion, be a good fly for a beginner to use?
"Calling Fly Fishing a hobby is like calling Brain Surgery a job."
~by Paul Schullery~

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
~by Henry David Thoreau~
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
Mcjames on Aug 15, 2008August 15th, 2008, 7:37 am EDT
Woolly bugger is my top pick for prospecting (i.e. when there is no discernible insect activity/presence); for very deep pools/runs (I tie them with weight and bead-- makes for an inelegant cast but it gets down quickly); and for high water conditions when all kinds of interesting, unusual tidbits are being washed down the stream.

I cant walk past a deep hole under a waterfall without throwing a bugger in...

If I am fishing for other (non trout) species, its pretty much woolly bugger and clousers all the time. I have a few other streamer patterns knocking around the flybox but these two are the only streamer patterns I tie, pretty much.

Definitely one of my favorite all-rounder patterns. I dont use it much for trout because typically there is a particular insect I am trying to key in on. But if I could only carry one fly for all species/conditions, that might be it.

I do think its a great fly for a beginning tier (tyer?).
I am haunted by waters
JOHNW's profile picture
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
JOHNW on Aug 15, 2008August 15th, 2008, 7:44 am EDT
In general terms I fall about 40/40/20 (dry/nymph/streamer).
I turn to streamers when targetting really big fish, on dirty water or unfamiliar water. Nymphs are my go to untill I can ID what (if anything) is being taken on the surface.
Where things get a little misleading is that I will frequently use #8 and 10 streamers in a "sight nymph style".

As for what is best for beginners it all depends on what your background is. If you were proficient in fishing bait, especially worms, maggots, and the like, then I would venture to say nymphing is the way to go as the approaches are very similar. If spinners and plugs were your game than streamers may feel a little more familiar. If you are in need of visual feedback then dry flies are the way to go.
Each area has its peculiarities and intricacies that must be overcome to gain proficiency and consistently catch fish.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn

Posts: 115
Trtklr on Aug 15, 2008August 15th, 2008, 1:33 pm EDT
highflyer-dries I think are probably the most easy to catch fish on.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
Softhackle's profile picture
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Softhackle on Aug 16, 2008August 16th, 2008, 4:25 pm EDT
There is no doubt with me. I use the wingless wet flies most often and am rarely disappointed. These flies are so versatile, you can fish them upstream, downstream, in the the surface, just below and from bottom to top. They are so impressionistic they can represent, adult egg layers, nymphs, emergers, caddis, mayflies, etc. I've even had some success in the film during spinner falls. If you don't use them, you are missing some great fun.

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
CaseyP's profile picture
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
CaseyP on Aug 17, 2008August 17th, 2008, 4:35 am EDT
most dependable in my style of fishing through the year: wets and nymphs

most fun: beetles in the summer--nothing compares with that splashy, confident take, unless it's the sneaky sip by the really big ones.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra

Posts: 115
Trtklr on Aug 17, 2008August 17th, 2008, 9:51 am EDT
highflyer, softhackles signature line says it all I think
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Aug 17, 2008August 17th, 2008, 11:50 am EDT
Woolly bugger is a great choice for new fly fishers. It imitates leeches, helgammites, darters, all sorts of stuff trout like to eat. Also you can't go wrong with the following nymphs in sizes #12 - #18;

Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Prince, Muskrat, and a couple of soft hackles.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Aug 18, 2008August 18th, 2008, 7:11 am EDT
Interesting question. I think the flies we like to tie and the water we like to fish can influence each other. Toss in other biases we have and it makes for quite a range in fly preferences - and that's part of what makes this sport an art.

When I head to a large stream, I'm drawn to the fast runs and pocket-water, so I tend to nymph almost exclusively. I love trying to tackle the tricky currents and fighting fish in fast water. Under very specific circumstances, I'll fish dries and maybe even move into slower water, but it's usually not my first choice. I don't own good dry-fly necks, so my dries rarely turn out very well, and that may also play into my preference for nymphs. Also, I like to fish patterns I've invented, and my best patterns are all subsurface.

On small water, I'm finding myself falling back in love with the Royal Wulff, which is easy for me to see and casts a spell over curious fish.

I dislike woolybuggers because they look ridiculous and have a goofy name (yes, I'm that petty sometimes, same reason you'll never catch me fishing an egg-sucking leech or green weenie), but I'll not argue with anyone who can look past that and catch fish with them. I dislike foam-bodied flies (something about the aesthetics I just can't get past), so I don't fish beetle patterns in summer even though I know they catch fish - I fish ants and inchworms instead.

Finally, although I spend inordinate amounts of time tying artistic flies and love fishing streamers for lake fish, I hardly ever fish streamers anymore because I just have better flies for the water I now fish.

I've never fished many traditional wets or softhackles, but they're on my to-do list.

If you're a beginner, I would suggest figuring out what makes sense to carry on water you like to fish, the way you like to fish it, before you go filling up your flybox. And if you're also just starting to tie, the flies WBranch recommends are a good place to start.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis

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