The thing about the umbrella hook that intrigues me is its ability to put the hackle underneath the fly and have the fly sit entirely on top of it, with a footprint more like a dun riding the currents.
OK, I was going to send you a PM about this, but I'll take a chance and express an opinion on this subject. I just hope that the only thing that gets bent out of shape as a result will be a few hooks.
Everytime I hear someone wax poetic about the "little dimples" from a mayfly's feet or talk about how dry flies should ride on their "tiptoes," I cringe a bit. It's as though we are so enamored of the traditional above surface image of a dry-fly dun that we forget where they came from. Those little dimples are not visible from any distance in anything but dead calm water. Even then, their attraction value is questionable. Do we ever stop to think that one reason that fish are sometimes more attracted to emergers is that they can spot them from a greater distance underwater than a high-riding dun? Or that sometimes pressured fish turn to emergers because they have learned to shy away from the image of the traditional high-riding dry?
Turn your above surface dry-fly head around and consider what the fish are perceiving from below. Sure, the tricky parachute hackle makes a pretty good representation of mayfly feet dimpling the surface. But in the silver mirror the fish uses until a fly enters its window, what it mostly sees (especially if the water is ruffled at all) is a bare dark curve of metal penetrating the surface. Not only that, but it sees two of them--the real one and its reflection in that mirror. At least an emerger exploits this situation by disguising that form in the dress of an evacuating nymph. Even when these flies enter the zone of clear vision, it seems to me that most of the wing and body details are obscured by the overwhelming buzz of the parachute hackle. This seems like a lot to sacrifice in order to achieve that precious dimple on the surface.
With high-riding dry flies, the fish only sees something like what we see (in terms of color and above surface elements) in that moment when the fly passes into the edge of its circular cone of vision or its "window" into the outside world. Beyond that brief intersection, the fly passes into silhouette. This is why fussy fish often drop back with the fly, holding the image near the edge of the window for critical inspection. This is the only way they can see some of the things we see, and they still see the underside of that image.
Sure, such great theorists as Goddard and Clarke or Vince Marinaro made much of the "dimples" and of keeping the rest of the fly above water, but they were primarily concerned with flat-water dry-fly situations or "hatch pools" (as Goddard and Clarke call them). Even in these situations, I can't see the advantage of emphasizing the "double hernia" hook image over fussy flat-water fish as these flies do. (Marinaro and Goddard and Clarke tried to get as much of the hook out of the water as possible, and I think they were right to do so.)
I'll apologize in advance for this "rant" because it is really just an opportunity to get a pet peeve off my chest. And I don't mean to pick on these flies, they just provided an opportunity. I still think that the flies, the hooks, and the ideas behind them are clever and intriguing. I would just choose to exploit some of the possibilities in other ways. And, I'll repeat, similar hanging dries can and have been tied on "normal" hooks, with greater
I really don't want to deter anyone's experimentation here, least of all for my good friend Louis. But I do think it is worth considering the fish's perspective before we get too caught up in an image that they never see, or never see in the way that seems so appealing to us. Again, I sincerely apologize to any and all I may have offended, and I'll try to show more restraint when voicing my opinions in the future. (But I'm not making any promises.) :)
In my temporary role as curmudgeon-at-large,