There are about a million fly patterns out there these days. Crazy to think about. The possibilities are endless at a vise and that is mind boggling. The internet took the number of fly patterns from a ton to way too many. That brings me to the point of this little article, not everything works even if it looks: perfect, great, deadly, blah, blah, blah. Obviously, I haven’t tried them all, nobody could, but lots of flies catch fisherman not fish.
There are many reasons a fly may not work even though it looks like it should. The biggest reason is typically weight or lack thereof. Sometimes when tying a fly that imitates something we as fisherman tend to focus more
on the physical appearance of the fly, and less on the internal workings i.e. weight, profile, or action. The problem is that even if the fly looks exactly like we want it to, if the fish don’t see it, then it doesn’t matter.
Another thing about flies that are complex and realistic is that they’re also time consuming. Nobody wants to lose a fly it took them 45 minutes to tie so chances are it won’t get fished much even if it does work. I learned this the hard way with balsa wood poppers. I tied some awesome hand painted balsa poppers but never fished them because I’d formed a sort of emotional attachment to them. Generally speaking, flies don’t catch fish sitting in a fly box.
Flies that look to good to be true usually are. The best patterns are often cheap, simple, and quite frankly boring. If you held a Clouser Minnow up to a kid and asked what it was they probably wouldn’t say “a minnow.” Who cares what a little kid thinks though. When you hold a Clouser up to a fish I know what he’s saying. This goes for lots of classic fly patterns. It’s okay to look for the next best thing but don’t force it and certainly don’t over think it. Fish don’t have huge brains so why are we treating them like art critics.
Go throw some loops!