Variations of flies

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  wheezeburnt 1 year, 5 months ago.

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    Scotty MacFly

    I was going through my flies and kind of put them together according to their variations. I’m assuming the word variations is the correct term. Take the Adams & all the different styles like the Para Adams, the Delaware Adams and so forth. Now, for the likes of me, I have only fished with the Adams, Para Adams, and the Delaware Adams. Never have I tried the others, like the Irresistible Adams,and others in that family of flies probably due to the success I have with the first three flies.
    So, do any of you fish with all the variations of the same fly, or just stick with a few that have proven worthy?

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by  Scotty MacFly.


    I pretty much just use the classic versions. Except for lately with my new experiment I had only used the classic Adams. I don’t even know what the Delaware is.

    Caddis is just the Elk Hair Caddis and so forth. I don’t want to spend my time on the water making decisions on what fly to use. I want to fish.


    Scotty MacFly

    There are so many different versions of the Adams, and other flies as well, like ant patterns. We all have seen different ant patterns. I would like to try them all in the flies that I use, which isn’t many. It just crossed my mind that in the dozen flies that I use, and all the different patterns, that’s a lot of flies. Who knows, maybe there is a pattern that I have not tried yet that could be the new secret weapon.

    Two years ago when I challenged flies against each other, I had some of the best fun I ever had seeing which fly out performed others in different situations and waters. The Delaware Adams was the all around champ over all. Some days not so good, but over all an incredible fly. Here’s how to tie one.

    I would now like to challenge the Adams in it’s own family of flies. Yes, to fish with all the different Adams patterns would be fun I think. Then I can find the undisputed champ.



    That’s pretty hard to test Scotty. A fly can be hot and 10min later it goes cold. What if you tested during that time it’s cold?

    As you know i’ve fished the Adams for a whole year and never tied on any other fly. That gave me a good idea of the worth of the Adams. You can’t hardly do this with every fly.



    I pretty much tie one type of fly for mayfly duns – Rene Harrop’s Hairwing Dun. Vary the size and general color to match the prevailing bug. Yes, including one with a muskrat body and mixed grizzly/brown hackle. For really tiny BWO’s I’ll sub dun Z-lon because it’s much easier to work with than hair on a #22. For spinner falls (except tricos) if all I have is the right size Rusty Spinner I’m good.

    Same with caddis adult patterns – Hans Weilemann’s CDC and Elk has proven its worth many times over. Black, tan and a few green, from 12 to 18.

    Midges and emergers – that’s another story.


    Scotty MacFly

    Your right Creek. I do understand what you mean. I have encountered that scenario, but didn’t give up. When things went cold, well, it was then time to practice my casting abilities and hope for the best. But I will tell you something, not too many times did the Adams in the rivers and streams that I fish get cold much. Now we both know that in creeks and streams that hold brookies isn’t a fair test because of the nature of the brookies wanting and willing to take anything, but the cutties I have had in the same waters tell the story.

    The bigger rivers, that’s when the test really comes into play. I worked my way upriver on one side with one fly, then walk back down to where I started and cross the water, change flies and do it again. The next day, same flies, but opposite side of the river. And on some rivers like the Poudre, sometimes the unexpected fly like a Griffiths Gnat would just dominate against the Adams, but not often. At least on that water. I do realize not all rivers come with the same menu of flies, so I’d look for the hatch, and once I narrowed it down, take that fly and challenge it against one of the Adams, generally the Delaware. The one area that has brookies that I fished where the Adams doesn’t do well is the Wild Basin outside Estes Park. I can’t figure that one out. A Renegade, oh heck yeah, but not an Adams.

    I know things change when the seasons change. Again, the Griff’s Gnat in Nov. does better that the Adams hands down, so I just kept this….I don’t want to say research, but contest between flies take place from July to mid Sept.

    I know it all sound weird in it’s own way, and it’s hard for me to explain it all. In my head I can see what I’m doing clearly, but I just can’t explain it. But again, you are right Creek. I have taken those time into consideration. And maybe it may take a few years to unlock it all, so on the bright side of that, I’ll know what I’ll be doing for the next few years…..Having fun.

    All I can honestly say is, when I did this challenge, the Delaware Adams was hard to beat no matter when and where I fished it during the summer months. It held strong until after mid Sept. when the flying ant was the dominant fly, but then the season was changing wasn’t it? So I really have to measure it down into just the summer months from July to mid Sept.. This Adams Family of flies may be a good place to start. Challenge the Delaware against all the other Adams patterns, but keep it dry fly. Nothing subsurface will be used. Then find out the dominant Adams fly, then next year do it with different patterns of a different fly and see which is dominant in it’s family. Then challenge the dominant Adams with the dominant other, and then go on from there. This could end up being a fun GAME for me for many years! I’m getting all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

    And when I get done, I’ll know for sure which fly out of all my favorite flies is king. And not only that, but maybe which fly is the go to fly on different waters. At the end, my flies will only consist of the best of the best, and my box of flies will be at a minimum. Yes, it will take awhile, a long while, but I like knowing what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it, and it’ll keep me busy. Yes sir, this will be fun. I just thought I may have to decide what sizes of flies to use and keep it at that. Maybe sizes 14 to 16?

    Grs. That’s exactly what I was asking. So you keep it basic and simple like Creek, but with different flies. Awesome!

    I read articles in magazines, and watch a few you tube videos and when they show off their box of flies, it looks like a clothes rack back stage of some fashion show. Unless it’s a Victoria’s Secret fashion show, lol. And I have always wondered and asked myself, ” does one really need to have all those flies?”
    I mean they have over 100 different flies, and must carry half a dozen boxes. What a mess! Some are nicely put together, but still, what a mess. This is just my opinion, but if you have to have that many flies to catch a fish, something is wrong. That’s more jewelry than Liberace ever could own. And that man sparkled if I remember correctly. But it has always amazed me at these fishing shows at just how much tackle they bring. It’s not WWIII, it’s fishing for crying out loud. That’s what got me to thinking about all this, and my flies. I could just stick to my dozen different flies and be happy with that, or take it further like I want to do and find the best of the best, if there is such a thing. If not, so be it. Creek has his experiment, and so shall I. Mine I think will be more like a career.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by  Scotty MacFly.


    I know what you’re saying about brookies. They’d probably take a bare hook if you cast it out there.

    I have to start getting at higher altitudes to get the brookies. I catch mostly browns in the creeks I fish. Creek browns are really spooky and picky around here.

    If i’m looking for lunch next to the creek i’ll go up high to get brookies. Browns taste crappy.


    Scotty MacFly

    Now there’s something we differ in. I prefer browns. I’ll take browns and brookies any day. I only keep one or two browns a year, that’s on my birthday, but brookies I’ll take whenever I feel like a fresh fish dinner.
    I do not like rainbows. They have no taste to me.



    This is an older post, but one line caught my attention. Scotty wrote, “This is just my opinion, but if you have to have that many flies to catch a fish, something is wrong. ” Well, its not about “to catch a fish.” Hell, I can catch a fish, or a hundred fish, on just about anything. One fly for sure. But that’s boring to me. I mean, how many hundreds of trout do I need to catch in my life on an Adams? I’ve filled that quota for the most part. Carrying one or two boxes with a few basic patterns that catch the fish nearly all the time and nearly all the places gets a little old. Maybe I’m spoiled because I get to spend so much time fishing.

    For me, I enjoy using different flies every season, and catching fish on as many different patterns as possible. I love the “new” baetis or PMD pattern of the year. I always try some new ones. I can never use every pattern out there in my lifetime, but I can keep it fresh by using new-to-me flies each and every year. So, I have a fly problem. Addiction if you will. I have thousands, but NOT because I need more than about 3 or 4 of them. But they fuel the urge to go out and try something new, be it an old traditional Catskill pattern, a dry soft-hackle of european decent, or a three-legged one-eyed ribbed biot-bodied sideways cripple with a broken tail!



    Some of us aren’t bored so easily. 😀

    I find it more of a challenge to use one fly that shouldn’t work under the present conditions. I tried the million flies approach decades ago. I found myself with my nose in fly boxes more than I was fishing. I’d rather be casting.


    Scotty MacFly

    Great reply Lightline. Your right, it’s not about catching a fish. This thread was basically me trying something new, because I’m trying to rely on less stuff. But you figured that out I’m sure. To me there’s too many flies, and too little time. And like Creek, I don’t want to spend too much time looking for a fly.

    I have gone to the local fly shop and have gazed over the many selections of flies they have and wondered how a person could come up with some of those patterns. Some look ridiculous. I don’t need to get caught up in the hype of flies, if there is such a thing.

    But using new to you flies each season, I can see how that has it’s own challenges too. With all due respect, it’s not for me. But being a fly addict as you call it, I guess fishing would be great therapy.

    As I have said in a previous post, I do like to be out and fish, working on my casting, feeling the rod load and unload, accuracy and presentation. A fish taking my fly is the reward I get for doing it right. Do I like to catch fish, you bet. I like the feel of a fish bending my rod, and playing it. But I just want to minimize what I have and during this time, think of it as a game. Because to me, that’s what is is. There are many rules to the game, as in drag free drift, accuracy, and other things I must do. The fish only has one rule to follow; if the fly is presented correctly, take it.

    Again, great reply Lightline.



    I seldom thumb or nose through my boxes much in a day of fishing. Often, I’ll use one pattern (or even one fly) all session. Sometimes I change stages as the hatch progresses. Maybe two or three max.

    But then, I’ll change flies the next day, and might not fish the previous day’s pattern(s) again the whole trip, or the rest of the season. Once a pattern works on every good presentation, the mystery is gone. They’re gonna eat it. Next!

    I have one or two “lock” patterns I’ll always use during specific hatches (another thread), but its fun to tie something on that I have no idea how it will be received or rejected. And a few times a season, I’ll stumble on one that is hot beyond my expectations or belief. I caught a bunch of the most selective trout in Montana this fall on the ugliest, mis-proportioned, over-dressed baetis I’ve ever tied on. Tied in Sri Lanka, no less, and bought for 25 cents each. It even out-fished Harrop’s $3.50 killer bugs for a few days. If I wasn’t a fly addict, I’d have never tried it, or even owned it. I probably won’t even use it for the spring hatch. They’ll all just eat it.



    Interesting thread! Particularly in the sense that there are so many approaches to fly fishing, and none of them particularly right or wrong. As a fly tyer, I am inclined to modify patterns to suit my own interests and my often misguided impression of what might appeal to a particular fish. As an example, I tie and fish a lot of muddler minnows in a lot of sizes. I started out tying them exactly at Gapin intended, then over time found that adding a small scarlet throat hackle seemed to increase interest. After experimenting with a number of materials and patterns, I now tie most of my muddlers in sizes 12 to 8, mottled turkey tail, gold tinsel body, yellow calf tail underwing, lemon wood duck or mallard overwing, red throat hackle and natural deer hair collar and spun head. Works well on brookies, smallmouth, chain pickerel and occasionally atlantic salmon. But I suspect my success with these flies has to do with at least two generally unconsidered factors: 1. I fish them with confidence; and 2. I fish them A LOT!!!

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