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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

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.

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.

Central Pennsylvania

Posts: 8
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!
Eastern PA

Posts: 31
Trowpa on Nov 10, 2008November 10th, 2008, 5:30 am EST
Lee Wulff picked his six in "trout on a fly". Don't have the book in front of me now, but i will post his later. In the meantime my list.

In no particular order..all the perfect size of course

light cahill
black nose dace
a non-descript buggy beadhead nymph(I have my own recipe)
honeybug inchworm.

Marquette, MI

Posts: 33
UPTroutBum on Nov 10, 2008November 10th, 2008, 5:39 am EST
Gold ribbed hare's ear nymph, bead head
Prince nymph
black wooly bugger with legs

" The true fisherman approaches the first day of fishing season with
all the sense of wonder and awe of a child approaching Christmas." John Voelker
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
LittleJ on Nov 10, 2008November 10th, 2008, 6:05 am EST
tan caddis larva
olive caddis larva
black zebra midge w/ a hot orange bead
any other random colored larva (does that count)
green weenie
b.h. phesant tail soft hackle

that'll do for now until I remember something else and have to swap one or two out.
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
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's profile picture
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
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
Central Pennsylvania

Posts: 8
Wiconisco37 on Nov 11, 2008November 11th, 2008, 9:13 am EST
I would pick:
Griffith Gnat
Green Weenie
Pheasant Tail
Wooly Bugger
One of 3 soft hackles (partridge and green, yellow and orange)

I'm serious, try these out
JAD's profile picture
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362
JAD on Nov 11, 2008November 11th, 2008, 2:19 pm EST

Small 20# Brassie
Pheasant Tail 20# (Baitis)
Green Weeny
Wooly worm Gray body grizzly hackle Red Tag
Black Ghost Streamer


They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Nov 11, 2008November 11th, 2008, 3:40 pm EST
Royal Wulff, size 16
Foam beetle, size 14
Parachute Adams, size 20

Plus two Wisconsin favorites:

Pass Lake wet fly, size 10
Pink squirrel nymph, size 16
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Nov 12, 2008November 12th, 2008, 2:32 am EST
What's the water temperature and is it discolored or clear?

That makes a difference and what's more, it's important. Based on the way you set this up, my life may depend upon the choice I make..:)
Johnstown, Pa

Posts: 11
Wetfly1 on Nov 12, 2008November 12th, 2008, 4:58 am EST
Well guys,

I dont eat trout very often,but if Iam hungry these would be the flies I would be useing.

Tan Elk Hair Caddis #16

Yellow Stimulator #10

Royal Wulff #16

Black Humpy #14

Picket Pin #12

Nat.Flash Hare's Ear Wet #14
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
Mcjames on Nov 12, 2008November 12th, 2008, 6:28 am EST
I've never fished it, but I'd be tempted by one of those worm patterns made out of leather(?).

BTW probably better off eating them raw.
I am haunted by waters
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
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."
New England

Posts: 43
Leakywaders on Nov 21, 2008November 21st, 2008, 8:26 am EST
Looking for roots and berries...
Drag free??? If the fly didn't drag, I wouldn't know where it was!!
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Nov 21, 2008November 21st, 2008, 4:06 pm EST
No, I think I'd follow Euell Gibbons lead. Nuts and twigs.
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."
north west new jersey/pa

Posts: 4
Phishheaduj on Jan 1, 2009January 1st, 2009, 8:24 am EST
If it was eastern, i would use

1-black caddis
2-green inch worm
3-griffith gnat- with shuck- killer fly for any where a griffith gnat works well.
4- scud, any
5- a small adams 20-26

where i am at i would be sick of trout in about two weeks and would be altering my rod into a bow, to eat other critters.
always learning
Posts: 31
GoofusBug on Jan 2, 2009January 2nd, 2009, 8:16 am EST
Blue Winged Olive #18

Beadhead prince nymph #16

Dave's Hopper #8

Pheasant tail #16

Brown Woolly Bugger #8

White midge #22
Northwest PA

Posts: 87
Grannom on Jan 2, 2009January 2nd, 2009, 10:36 am EST
JAD- Based on your selection, if I were to say that you regularly fish Neshannock, would I be correct?

Mine, in no particular order, based on this situation would be...

Yellow/Tan Stimmie
Beadhead Hare's Ear
Elk Hair Caddis
Griffith's Gnat
Partridge and Orange Soft Hackle

"Be calm - you're there..." "...Tell yourself there's no rush, even if there is."

-John Gierach
tioga co. pa.

Posts: 33
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.
shop owner
N.J.B.B.A. #2215
Tiadaughton T.U. 688
I didn't Escape------They gave me a day pass !

Posts: 4
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.

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