Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.
Wiconisco37 on Nov 10, 2008November 10th, 2008, 4:48 am EST
Say, you were stranded out in the middle of nowhere, with just your rod, reel and line with leaders and tippets and matches to make fires. There's no houses within 400 miles, so theres hope in walking unless you have some food, because this is a 5 day walk. But there is hope, of a never fished trout stream right where you stand! You can catch trout, its going to be dark very fast, and you are incredibly hungry. The fish are all natives, about the same 7 inch size, so one, two or even three won't cut it. They are at a normal state, and aren't very picky, but aren't selectively feeding, they're just waiting for something good to drift by. This wouldn't be true, but say there were only trout in one hole in front of you. You must catch as many fish as you can before dark, cook them and start walking. You don't have any flies, so a man comes up to you mysteriously and says you can have any 6 different flies of your choice, and then disappears. Which would you choose?
Let's eventually combine the list so all of us can agree on 6 flies that will work 99 percent of the time. This will help all of us to simplify and concentrate on fishing and not on all the millions of patterns. Make sure you REPLY!
GONZO on Nov 10, 2008November 10th, 2008, 7:17 am EST
Please keep in mind that my answer is based upon the situation you describe--small unsophisticated wild trout in a small stream. I will also start by assuming that the stream is freestone.
With those qualifications, I am usually quite content with two patterns: something like a #14 Elk-Hair Caddis and a soft-hackle wet in about the same size. Either can be used for dead-drifting or twitching/swimming presentations. They can be fished separately or together (dry and dropper). One could easily substitute similar flies or add to the list, but six flies of two patterns should be all that you really need in such situations.
For small limestone streams, I would probably replace the Elk-Hair with a #12 beetle and exchange the soft hackle for a small scud pattern. The attractive plop of a good beetle pattern is great for drawing fish from the undercut bank-side cover that prevails on most small limestoners, and scuds often predominate as underwater food.
On larger, more technical streams, my fly selection is usually built around imitations of the prey forms that I expect to emerge or are otherwise important during the time that I am fishing. However, tiny streams with smallish unpressured trout rarely require more than a couple of fly patterns. (A single pattern will often do just fine, but I like having the option of surface or subsurface presentations--even if I don't always exercise that option.)
Softhackle on Nov 10, 2008November 10th, 2008, 11:31 am EST
I guess experience IS worth something, and I suspect Lloyd and I have been around the block more than a couple times. I would agree with him on fly selection. The good old Elk Hair Caddis is murderous even on more sophisticated fish, and any good soft-hackle or flymph is a very versatile tool that readily takes trout consistently.
"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
Falsifly on Nov 12, 2008November 12th, 2008, 9:50 am EST
Fighting against my satirical side; I see that the posts have remained true to the intent, and I would hate to crash and bash. But, since some have qualified their answers with assumptions I have a question. Are we talking Eastern or Western trout? If Eastern, I haven’t a clue. I understand that Eastern trout are almost impossible to catch, no matter what you use. I would pity the person placed in this situation. He will most likely starve to death.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Sandfly on Jan 3, 2009January 3rd, 2009, 12:28 am EST
During WWII the airforce had John Knoll (knolls guide to trout flies) tie all the flies for their survival kits. Every one had a wet fly in it. I grew up next door to his factory. so I would have to say a bright wet fly, hares ear nymph, elk hair caddis, each in 2 sizes. that's my six.
Tiadaughton T.U. 688
I didn't Escape------They gave me a day pass !
Baetis89 on Jan 3, 2009January 3rd, 2009, 3:46 am EST
No need for 6 flies, all one needs is a San Juan Worm. Right? Preferably a size 4 mustad english bait hook wrapped with orange/red wire and a little orange thread for the middle section. fish it on 3x at the lightest and it will last most the year or at least til you're out of the woods. Oh yes, I believe in the dirt snake when nothing else seems to be getting the job done.