By Justin Pickett
Does a trout fly have to “be something?”
I was once approached by a man on a local stream after I had brought a nice male Rainbow Trout to the net, and immediately he asked the age old question, “What’d he eat?” I removed the fly from the trout’s kyped jaw and held it up for the older gentleman to see. The look of shock and awe… no… make that shear terror… on his face was priceless.
“What the hell is that supposed to be?!” to which I replied,
“I dunno, but it works!”
The fly in question is the brainchild of a good friend, and colleague, of mine. He fishes it all the time, and has lovingly named it the “Trout Brain.” It is a large, ugly, bulky, pink, flesh-like pattern tied on a partridge hook with a bright, fluorescent orange, tungsten bead. To look at this thing, you’d think that there is no way any self-respecting trout inhabiting the lower 48 would eat it. Hell I’ve had clients and other fishing buddies downright refuse to tie it on their rig. I’ll admit I had my doubts at first as well.
It is definitely a far cry from what you would consider a “traditional” fly pattern, but it has proven to be very effective. Do I know why they eat this damn thing? Nope! All I know is that this fly has caught lots of fish, primarily trout, in just about every type of water, including Common Carp in the Huron River, and even Bonefish in the Bahamas!
So what makes a trout eat something that is so obviously not a normal part of their diet??? I have no idea. Is it a case of “curiosity killed the cat”? Or does it piss them off to the point of eating it just so they don’t have to look at it? Why would they eat something so stupid and gaudy?
I highly doubt that this male rainbow mistook it for an emerging BWO. Maybe he thought it was Double Bubble. We’ll never really know. What I do know is that flies like this are a staple in my fly box. Why? Our public, and even some private, waters are constantly pounded with the usual fare of mayfly, stonefly, and caddis patterns. Trout are basically seeing the same patterns over and over again, day after day. Yes, there are variations of patterns that attempt to be different, but when it all boils down to it you can put them all in similar categories.
So what point am I trying to make? Every once in a while you just need to throw something different for crying out loud! Think a little further outside the box. When everyone else has fished through a section of water with princes, copper johns, and woolly buggers, give these guys something else to look at. Something leggy, flashy, hairy, bright, etc. Think big. Think exaggerated. Think grandiose, and just plain gross looking. Patterns like “The Mop”, “Trout Brain”, or “Coach K” to name a few.
Not comfortable throwing something big and gaudy? Try adding legs or some flashy materials to one of your favorite flies. For example, the “Dirty Politician” and “Psycho Prince” patterns are colorful variations of already successful patterns. If you tie, get crazy at the vise and do some experimenting.
Still not feelin’ it? Too much of a traditionalist? Fair enough. It’s not going to appeal to every angler, and that’s cool. It doesn’t have to be the first fly you reach for once you’re streamside, but when you’ve pulled out every fly in your box and nothing has worked, what do you have to lose???Justin Pickett Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!