Sometimes, particularly in trout fishing but not always, we find ourselves confronted with fish that seem hungry, and aggressive, yet are not quite willing to take a fly despite coming agonizingly close. Maybe it’s a trout sitting at the back of a pool taunting you. Or a bass that has swirled at a popper two or three times. These fish can be caught, they are not locked jawed art critics inspecting our tying ability. And when I find myself face to face with these conundrums there are a few flies I pull out to get the job done.
For trout no fly is as universal as the Guide’s Choice soft hackle. When trout are rising to dries, or slurping emergers, and you don’t have an exact imitation for that fly the Guide’s Choice can often fool fish. Just a few different color variations, weights, and sizes can imitate most hatching mayflies with surprising accuracy. If ever I am stumped by a hatch, which happens far more often than it should, I wade upstream and swing the
Guide’s Choice through the rising trout with far more success than I deserve. But, that’s the point: When you’ve tried six different dries and a couple different emergers without a bump the Guide’s Choice can seal the deal. How do you think it got that name? Some ignorant blogger trying to prove a point? Maybe, if so, he got offly lucky.
Another pattern that is super effective for selective trout that are surfacing is the RS2. I’ve often times found trout rising to what appears to be the equivalent of a spec, or nothing. These fish are always frustrating, as they’re actively feeding, but won’t take a fly. This is the perfect time to throw an RS2 size 22 and smaller on your line, powder it up, and go for broke. It's probably the smallest thing in your box, and if anything is going to work its that.
The Big Ugly
This massive dry fly, terrestrial, abomination, thing always seems to find its way on any “fly” list I put together, and for good reason. The Big Ugly is called big, and ugly, for a reason; It gets the attention of fish, and in some cases I believe cultivates that attentions curiosity into a take. I often catch trout on the Big Ugly after they’d had a good long look at a handful of other, more realistic, fly patterns. Like a great white shark attacking a big ugly human, it triggers something in them that practicality can’t quite explain.
This is a great follow up fly for bass. When you get a big largemouth busting on a popper, but not inhaling it, or swiping at a streamer but not finishing it off, this fly can often times convince them. It’s a simple baitfish snack for any big bass devoid of the modern bells and whistles that catch fisherman more than fish. You don’t want bass thinking, you want them reacting, that’s where the Bend-back comes in.