Thoughts on fly design.

lepirate

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I have, possibly erroneously, come up with a few attributes of fly design that I think go towards making a good fly....no special order...

The darker the day, the more coloured the water, the deeper it's fished, the darker the fly.... assumption I make is that black is more noticeable in very low light as it shows as a silhouette whereas light flies will be more alive and translucent in brighter light.

Soft flies work better than hard flies... assumption, a fish interacts with its food by mouth, something soft, ie buggy hair, will be held just a fraction longer than something hard as it may feel a little more 'alive'.

A little red/claret/crimson is good in a fly when the sun is low on the horizon... assumption, more red light on the water?

A slow sinking fly works better than a fast sinking one... assumption, a slow sinking fly stays within feeding level of the fish longer rather than dropping through quickly.

A fly weighted so it sinks on a level plain, ie,rather than head down, is more natural and so more attractive to fish, assumption, natural bugs tend to swim level rather than diving nose down or jigging up and down rapidly.

A slowly fished fly works best (perhaps not for recent stockies).... assumption, it is more natural and as the fish would expect from food.

Blended dubbings, several colours mixed to give an overall impression of a colour, work better than a hard unmixed colour...assumption, most bugs are a mix of colours and shades and often translucent so would not be seen by a fish as one overall colour.

Hackles that are barred, like grizzle, partridge etc, are better than solid shade ones... assumption, the bars of different colours/shades give an effect of movement as some parts are more visible than others and that changes as the fish moves.

So, just some thoughts, generally for wet/damp flies that fish will get a good look at. Was wondering what others feel important in a fly that perhaps gives them confidence in stuff they tie...
Dave.
 

greenie62

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....Was wondering what others feel important in a fly that perhaps gives them confidence in stuff they tie....

Some good points there Dave,
Also supports my belief that 'scruffy-looking' flies catch more fish than 'pristine' flies - which catch more fishermen!;)
 

keora

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I have, possibly erroneously, come up with a few attributes of fly design that I think go towards making a good fly....no special order...

The darker the day, the more coloured the water, the deeper it's fished, the darker the fly.... assumption I make is that black is more noticeable in very low light as it shows as a silhouette whereas light flies will be more alive and translucent in brighter light.

Soft flies work better than hard flies... assumption, a fish interacts with its food by mouth, something soft, ie buggy hair, will be held just a fraction longer than something hard as it may feel a little more 'alive'.

A little red/claret/crimson is good in a fly when the sun is low on the horizon... assumption, more red light on the water?

A slow sinking fly works better than a fast sinking one... assumption, a slow sinking fly stays within feeding level of the fish longer rather than dropping through quickly.

A fly weighted so it sinks on a level plain, ie,rather than head down, is more natural and so more attractive to fish, assumption, natural bugs tend to swim level rather than diving nose down or jigging up and down rapidly.

A slowly fished fly works best (perhaps not for recent stockies).... assumption, it is more natural and as the fish would expect from food.

Blended dubbings, several colours mixed to give an overall impression of a colour, work better than a hard unmixed colour...assumption, most bugs are a mix of colours and shades and often translucent so would not be seen by a fish as one overall colour.

Hackles that are barred, like grizzle, partridge etc, are better than solid shade ones... assumption, the bars of different colours/shades give an effect of movement as some parts are more visible than others and that changes as the fish moves.

So, just some thoughts, generally for wet/damp flies that fish will get a good look at. Was wondering what others feel important in a fly that perhaps gives them confidence in stuff they tie...
Dave.

Are you writing about stillwater or river fly fishing? I mainly fly fish on a northern spate river. Here's my views:

Dark day, dark fly - I haven't noticed this connection. I normally fish with dull grey green flies (hare's ear and plover, baetis nymph, water hen bloa).

Most of the flies I use are hard. Even a big reservoir lure with a chenille body, and lots of marabou doesn't seem soft to me.

I usually fish with a weighted nymph on the point in rivers The weight lets the fly swim closer to the bottom in fast water. A weighted nymph, unless it's very heavy normally swims horizontally because there is an upward pull by the tippet, at the head of the fly. I've had some good trout on heavy gold head streamers with a strong up/down action on the retrieve.

Usually I'll twitch the fly a couple of times at the end of a dead drift on a fast river to attract a trout to the fly. Yet the occasional fast pull with the fly on the dangle seems to work just as well.

Yes blended dubbings, speckled hackles does look more natural than one uniform colour on a fly.


Wet flies I prefer for river fishing include:

Spiders such as Stewarts Black Spider, Waterhen Bloa, Hare's Ear and Plover.

Gold head nymphs with a dull olive green body or grey brown body

Baetis nymphs, representing the Large Dark Olive, usually weighted with wire at the thorax.

Sizes mostly 14 and 16, perhaps a 12 if the river is up and a bit coloured.

A big black streamer fly, about a size 10, with a gold head.
 
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lepirate

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Hi Keora,
Largely for still waters, tho some application to rivers. The 'soft' came because I noticed that fish were taking a fly and spitting it out when fishing very slowly retrieved or static nymphs without it showing on my mates line, sometimes 2 or 3 times on a retrieve. It happened quite often when I could watch from a high vantage point and he was saying he had not had a take all day. I believe it happens a lot more than most people think. With some experimenting we found soft dressed flies were held a little longer, just enough to show a tiny twitch on the leader. Have had a lot more fish since and my mate has gone from a blank every other session to 2-5 fish every time out. I am pretty sure it happens on rivers too, OK, not with any speed to the retrieve it's true, but likely on dead drifts. I dress a lot of river nymphs now lightly with light colours of seals fur/wool/hair mixes and scrub them with velcro, slow fished they really are quite translucent in the light. This effect is less the darker the day or deeper the fly is fished, black will show in very dark water as a silhouette, so darker dressed flies in lower light. Bucktail and sculpin type flies fished slowly through deep pools and under banks I find pretty good for the occasional larger fish too, a lot nicer movement than bead heads I do use beads in very fast water on rivers though occasionally, and, particularly on still waters I have seen a fish shy away from a bead head and now mostly incorporate weight under the dressing.
Dave.
 
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greenie62

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.... I dress a lot of river nymphs now lightly with light colours of seals fur/wool/hair mixes and scrub them with velcro, slow fished they really are quite translucent in the light.....

The scrubbing with Velcro advice is quite right - and it's always handy on some bit of fishing gear/clothing. I use this technique on the most common flies I use - GRHEs and Hoppers - seems to re-invigorate them - and adds to the 'scruffiness'! I sometimes wonder if this helps to create an 'air-bubble' around the fly which the naturals have but isn't easily re-created in tying!
 

keora

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It's interesting to hear that you've seen trout pick up artificial flies and then drop them. On the river I fish, usually I can see the bottom in about 2 or 3 feet of water. Yet it's not clear enough to see the fish in any detail when they take a wet fly. I did see one fish take a gold head nymph a few weeks ago in deep turbulent water, and the only sign was a brief gold flash in the water.
 

lepirate

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It's interesting to hear that you've seen trout pick up artificial flies and then drop them. On the river I fish, usually I can see the bottom in about 2 or 3 feet of water. Yet it's not clear enough to see the fish in any detail when they take a wet fly. I did see one fish take a gold head nymph a few weeks ago in deep turbulent water, and the only sign was a brief gold flash in the water.

Need to be up a tree or high bank with someone else fishing. Water needs to be clear and a calm day, On one particular lake you can get very close to the edge and follow a fly in from about 20-30 odd ft away. Also see fish come for a fly and shy away before taking it, get my mate to kneel and the hesitation stops. This at about 20-25 ft out with the fly about 3-4 ft down, suggests that you are well visible to fish that are 4ft deep at 25 ft, kneeling you drop from the window. Always liked just watching fish... :)
 
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