By Montana Grant

Posted: March 24, 2022

Fly fishing is continuing to evolve and change. Some fly guys still are dry fly purists. They need to understand the timing and identification of hatch. Insects may change from adults to cripples, to emergers, to spinners and other life stages in several hours. If you are unaware of what the fish are eating, you may be out of luck. 

There was a time when understanding entomology, Latin, ecosystems, and stream ecology was important. There are many great books about Matching the Hatch and how to navigate the cycles of insects.

Streamers and wet flies were once critical to catching fish on the fly. Understanding the forage food would help fly guys match colors, sizes, and action.

Nymph fishing may be the best way to catch more fish, on the fly, more often. Depending on the insect metamorphosis, different nymphs could be found in different areas of the water column.

Today, it has become more about what will catch a fish. Guides seem to focus on teaching how to use a bobber and some happy meal flies.  If tying a French fry to a hook would work, fly fishermen would be all in and order a Big Gulp on the side.

Happy Meal flies are the new Secret Flies. These flies are cheaper, easier to tie, simple, and the fish seem to have an appetite for them.

San Juan/ Squirmy Worm    Worms catch fish. Back in the day, my first worm patterns were made from red rubber bands from the newspaper. The wider brown ones worked well for crane fly larvae, and the green rubber bands made a good-looking caddis nymph. These were easy for a beginner to tie. Today, the rubber appendages from kid toys, and special jiggly squirmy worm materials make a quick worm pattern on the cheap.

Mop Flies    These flies are named from the material that they are made from. Mops and cleaning sponges have large cloth bodies. These fat pieces can be removed and come in a ton of sizes and colors. Even a novice fly tyer can secure them to a hook. The durable flies mimic a general group of nymphs such as crane flies. 

Glo bugs/ egg flies    Using egg flies began with salmon fishermen. Spawning runs meant a lot of eggs drifting in the currents. Some fishermen also feel that egg flies resemble hatchery pellets. Remember fish can’t see colors, but different light conditions cause different colors to work better.

Trash and Flash    Fish respond to movement and something that catches their eye. There are hundreds of bits of food drifting by. Why pick just one to munch. It is because they get excited or are attracted to it. They only have a moment to bite and often, it can be too late. They are hooked. 

Most Happy Meal flies do not resemble anything specific, but they get the attention of the fish. As a result, fly fishermen get hook ups. These flies are certainly good for instruction but don’t just use these teaching flies. Evolve to the next level and elevate your catch to also using more natural flies. You will catch more fish more often and become a better and more complete fly guy!

What’s on your menu?

Montana Grant

New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing