If you had to pick one fly... [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: If you had to pick one fly...

05-11-2004, 09:54 PM
... as your overall favorite to fish, not necessarily because it's very effective, but merely because you enjoy fishing it for some reason, what fly would it be, and why?


Freshwater: Hoppers, because the hits are usually so furious.

Saltwater: Poppers, because the hits are usually so furious.


05-11-2004, 10:17 PM
I am not positive, but didn't we go though this question about 2 months ago. (not the overrated fly one).

05-11-2004, 10:57 PM
Purple Hotpants tied spey style

05-11-2004, 11:16 PM
Toss up between a Night Dancer Spey and a Purple Ally's Shrimp.

Sharp Steelie
05-12-2004, 01:26 AM
Thats easy; a simple little light pink fly that works on
just about everything that swims in rivers, lakes, and
bays. Just waiting to find out if it works in the salt/ocean

05-12-2004, 06:32 AM
John - I think we did one on over-rated patterns and another on easy-to-tie and effective patterns.

05-12-2004, 06:54 AM
i think john is right but not sure who started it or the topics tittle

royal wulff for brookies

05-12-2004, 07:46 AM
I would have to go with one mf my Usuals. Caught my first fish, and the first fish this season on one of them.

05-12-2004, 07:56 AM
I wasn't so much interested in the fly alone, but also why or what about it made the pattern so enjoyable to fish.

05-12-2004, 08:48 AM
I think it was the one "go to "fly thread...but it was just a comment ,nothing more.

05-12-2004, 08:51 AM
ahhh... okay, I must have missed that. Sorry for any redundancy...

05-12-2004, 03:58 PM

I chose the Hotpants tied spey style for the reasons it appeals to me. It is a fun fly to tie (if you are into dressing spey flies), I find the purple and red combination visually appealling, depending on size and approach it can be fished in the film or deeply sunk and most of all I have confidence in it. Plus I think it is a pretty and somewhat classy fly and I think it was Juro who said a few weeks ago, steelhead deserve better than to be caught on a crappy fly.


05-12-2004, 04:01 PM
i chose the royal wulff for brookies just because i love to fish dries espesially attractir dries and the royal wulff is my favorite and brookies just attack it

Sharp Steelie
05-12-2004, 04:34 PM
Just curious - what is the definition of a "crappy fly".
In my opinion it is any fly that does not do what
it was intended to do - produce fish! What is the
definition of a "classy fly". In my opinion that is
any fly that someone created that does it's job -
and produces fish. What is the soul purpose of
a fly - hmmm, to catch fish. Interesting concept

05-12-2004, 04:56 PM
Sharp Steelie,

The definition of a "crappy fly" is easy. It is a fly that is pooly tied, poorly proportioned, overly bulky, falls apart quickly, tied on very poor quality hook, tied on the wrong style of hook for the style of fly, tied with poor quality materials, overly large head, etc.

My definition of "classy flies": beautifully tied spey, dee, and classic featherwing salmon flies (topping wing, married wing and strip wing) that are very effective fish catchers, which also make very nice artwork when tied and placed into a frame (I'm aware that I left out saltwater, trout, bass, pike flies in this illustration). In other words, the flies that require a high degree of tying skill and the use of high quaoity materials which are proportioned properly are "classy flies", everything else doesn't measure up

By my defintion, a "classy fly" is one that no one would be embarrassed to put in a frame and place on the wall of his living room for all to see. Yes, this definition leaves out flies like the gold ribbed hare's ear, grey hackle, brown hackle, girffith's gnat, grease liner, wooley bugger, most chenile bodied flies, and other flies that are usually taught in beginner fly tying classes. Because even if they catch fish, they are still fairly ugly and take very little skill to tie.

I am curious why a simple grey hackle style pink fly though because I have never found spring creek trout to be fond of things other than pretty close color and from matches. I also have never found northern pike or pickerel to be fond of anything but large streamer style flies in colors other than pink, and I have not found smallmouth or largemouth bass to be fond of small or pink flies either.

05-12-2004, 04:57 PM
What would you call a fly that was tied for viewing only and was never intended to catch fish? Art?

05-12-2004, 05:31 PM
I, too, am curious as to why that pink fly should be so effective on so many species; it resembles few prey items in most freshwater habitats, and I can't see why it should be any more effective than those beer can shaped lures they sell to rednecks (no offense to anyone here that might own one :D ).

Sharp Steelie
05-12-2004, 07:08 PM
It imitates various forms of zoo plankton, worms, and
even egg skein. Has great action in the water. It has
worked on every single body of water that I tried it
on. It is very durable - one fly lasted through several
fish. Personally, I have tied just about every type of
fly patterns out there including speys, atlantic salmon,
trout, bass, etc. If I want to tie some flies for the
artistic value; thats easy - speys and atlantic salmon.
When I want to tie something that will produce fish
after fish - I know excactly what to tie and use. When
it comes to choices, I'll pick what works to catch fish.

05-12-2004, 10:05 PM
Well, that's all that counts then, your faith in the pattern.

05-12-2004, 11:15 PM
Sharp Steelie,

Am I correct to assume that if your were fishing a spring creek that has a blizzard hatch of #22 Tricos or #18 PMD's going on you would fish your pink fly instead of a #22 Trico or #18 PMD imitation? Likewise, it is correct to assume that you would use your pink fly instead of a large streamer for northern pike?

And are we all to assume that steelhead that have been caught of Glasso's Orange Heron, G.P., Ally's Shrimp, Akroyd, full dressed featherwing Kate, or Bomber were all flukes because they are not all that effective for fish catching?

Me thinks you have oversimplified things far too much.

Sharp Steelie
05-13-2004, 01:24 AM
In my opinion, there is nothing better on a fly rod then a
fresh, large summer run Steelie. Haven't fished spring
creeks in many years. Do I think my pink fly in a size 6
would work while there is a size 22 midge hatch going on -
I doubt it. Would I go after Northern Pike with a size 6
pink fly - no. If I ever did go after Northern Pike would go
with a much larger size. Would I pick my little pink fly over
any Steelhead fly ever tied - in a heart beat! Would I
pick my little pink fly over any other fly for the Northwest -
in a heart beat! I have had the priviledge to watch other
fly fishermen nail fish after fish with my little pink fly
(Steelies). It made their dreams come true! Have also
found out that several people that I have never met
are also doing really good with it (multiple species).
I also believe that proper presentation is important.
Been tying flies since 1977 - this little pink fly is the
most effective and forgiving pattern I have ever seen
and used. Only the little Passion fly has come close -
from my experience, and the experience of some
others - nothing even comes close. Find some fish,
put it in front of them and watch what happens!

05-13-2004, 05:51 AM
I've got a fly I'd much rather fish than that, but you'd rather fish yours than mine I'm sure. Mine's dubbed the "steelhead creeper" and although it's a variant and hybrid of this and that I did come up with it one night with a glass of scotch at a picnic table at camp on a summer steelhead trip. It's been very effective, and others have done well on it too, within the small circle of friends who have seen it and adopted it.

My point is this, we all have favorites. There's two ways to treat a good fly... you can either talk a lot about it as you do..... or else feel so damn good about it you don't talk about it much with anyone :smokin:

05-13-2004, 09:39 AM
Be nice Steve, be nice now. Take three deep breaths and a valium, then go back to work. I will, I will, I promise I will.

05-13-2004, 09:43 AM

I sort of like a modified GP for steelhead.

North Island
05-13-2004, 09:47 AM
The "mighty" Steelhead Bee. [works for more than a few species]

For subsurface, the jury is still out


Sharp Steelie
05-13-2004, 10:22 AM
Juro, your absolutely correct - I didn't have to say a
word. I was asked to by several people to do so
And you know what - I'm excited to help others. Well
now the cat is out of the bag and I believe in
finishing what is started. You know it's being taken
seriously when someone tries to say it is a regeneration
of a dry fly! What is wrong with people when they just
can't accept something good - why? I would be more
than happy to give your pattern a go - send me the
recipe and I'll tie some up. My patterns have been
very effective for many years. Over the last 18 years
have narrowed it down to 3 extremely effective
patterns, 1 that works very well for just summer
runs/trout, and 1 that I keep with me mostly to have
something different and sentimental reasons.
Remember, I was asked to share! And that sharing
has already made a postitive impact in some
other fly fishermens success.

05-13-2004, 10:30 AM
Agreed! Please don't take it the wrong way, I just meant there are many ways to appreciate a discovery and was just responding to the extent by which this pattern has been talked about suddenly.

You're right there is good in sharing! I sure try to share my 'share' as well.

Sharp Steelie
05-13-2004, 10:52 AM
Thank You!:) I look forward to giving your pattern
a go. :cool:

05-13-2004, 11:18 AM
Sorry, I can't send you one per my above post. :chuckle: ;) ;) :devil: :p

Just kidding... here's a favorite of mine that qualifies as easy to tie (well fairly easy) and has put some big summer runs on the line for me...


Sharp Steelie
05-13-2004, 12:32 PM
Very nice! Know a couple places to put that rascal
rabbit to work - thanks for sharing.:cool:

05-13-2004, 01:57 PM
Sharp Steelie,

There are many steelhead fly fisherman who say the same thing about the Teeny Nymph, and many other flies such as the Green Butt Skunk, the G.P., various spey flies, etc. re: just put it in front of steelhead and they will bite. The point is that there is no one (or 2 or 3 for that matter) fly that is so good and so effective that steelhead in any river will take it over any other fly at any given time.

Claims that this fly is better than every other fly for steelhead, trout, pike, bass, you name the species mislead those who are new to fishing for that species or have very little experience fishing for them. Fishermen who are experienced fishing for steelhead understand and know that there are a multitude of different fly types and colors that could work when presented with a set of parametere regarding water temp, water color, water height, time of year, etc.

However, newcomers to steelheading do not know or understand this and will glum onto a fly that is promoted as the "greatest steelhead fish catcher, ever" type of statements in the hopes of hooking fish when they have been unsuccessful. This will stunt their growth as steelhead fly fishers and cause them to become "one method" and "one fly" fisherman who will not change flies or tactics to meet different conditions.

Sharp Steelie
05-13-2004, 03:52 PM
Flytyer, I appreciate your comment. There is a
reason that the fly is tied in 3 different colors
for all conditions. For me personally, the pink
one has worked in all conditions in the Northwest.
Off color, clear, different temps, different current,
different types of lies, and structure. My whole
intent is to help out some newbies and anyone
who is struggling. Like I said before, it is a very
forgiving pattern. I completely agree that no
one fly fishing should get locked into any one
method or type of fly. Fly fishing is all about
artistic and challenging fishing. Basically being
creative, open, and willing to expand horizons
so to speak. You know, it took a long time for
me to get the guts to go public with this
stuff. Anything that is truly good or different
will always be critisized - wonder why!:rolleyes:

05-13-2004, 04:17 PM
Sharp Steelie,

In all my life, 52 years I've never read such. No Steve, cool out, cool out take another pill.
Sharp Steelie, I'm going to put you right up there with the guy that"s got the Cop Car and Jimmy Swaggert.
Good luck to ya some day I'm just gona want to watch you fish it must be incredible.
I've snapped, help help oh help me please!

05-13-2004, 04:47 PM

Head for your boat. Pour yourself a single malt and watch the sunset. Everything will be fine in the morning.

05-13-2004, 04:56 PM
Sharp Steelie,

You are missing my point on this.

You write that you agree that no one fly (and I'd say no 3 flies either) will work under all conditions for steelhead. However, you said just prior to this that you are only trying to help newbies and others who are struggling to hook steelhead on a fly.

Newcomers are exactly why we have to be careful and temper what we write about a fly (or 3) being the best fly to use if you want to catch fish under nearly any conditions. Experienced steelhead fly fishers like yourself know one fly is not going to do this. The newcomers and those with little experience fly fishing for steelhead would take something like this and then use just that "most effective fly" (or 3) to the exculsion of all others. This will severely limit their development as steelhead flyfishers. When they go fishing using the "most effective fly" (or 3) and still come up fishless, they won't look at their technique, or water reading ability, or their ability to recognize holding water, or their ability to choose the right sink rate sink tip, or whether they are using a sink tip when they would be better off using a floater because they have the "right fly". Thus they will continue to be frustrated and for the most part end up give up the pursuit of steelhead with the fly.

This is why we experience steelhead flyfishers need to be careful about claiming any given fly is the only one you need.

Sharp Steelie
05-13-2004, 05:46 PM
That's the whole beauty of it - you don't have to
be a skilled fly fisherman to have success with it.
As someones confidence builds than they tend
to take on further challenges. Have personally
had the honor and priviledge to watch first timers
nail fish with the fly. Yes they did watch what I
was doing and yes did some coaching. Everything
you mentioned is very important and comes with
time and experience - just trying to give some
folks a head start! Got to go - soccer time.:)

05-13-2004, 07:13 PM
Same show different theatre...

05-13-2004, 07:48 PM
Sharp Steelie,

You are implying that it makes no sense for a person to use other flies or to improve his holding water abilities in order to take on furthur challenges as his confidence in steelhead fly fishing grows. If this were true, anyone would be able to go out and catch steelhead pretty much at will regardless of his steelhead fly fishing skill simply by using the "right" fly.

It is a gross generalization to say this. Not only do such statements mislead newbie steelhead fly fishers about the reality of steelhead fishing, they also discount 85 years of steelhead fly fishing development. The truth is that is takes at least a modicum of technique and knowledge of steelhead behavior to catch them and there is no shortcut to gaining these things.

You, I, and the rest of the experienced steelheader fly fishers know that there is no such thing as a fly with such magical fish catching abilities that all one need do is tie it on, put it in front of a fish, and have a fish on. The best steelheaders past and present (folks like Drain, Wahl, Haig-Brown, Glasso, Combs, Jackson, Arnold, Hull, Lemire, etc.) all have found that different times of year, different water levels, different water temps, different water color, and even different rivers require differing techniques and flies to be an effective fisherman. Newbies deserve to hear these truths.

05-13-2004, 11:07 PM
Not only is it a gross generalization that the fly is "the one" for now and always, but I wonder something: reading between the lines, it's written that the fly works on all the waters that it's been used on. Well, that's all fine and large; I can tie on a size 16 or 18 black ant and fish practically any water across North America and catch a fish, even though the majority of the time it might be a bluegill or some other species of sunfish, which are wide-spread across this continent. Are you insinuating that you've taken species such as pike on this fly with regularity, or even at all? Frankly, I think that if I went out to a lake or river in search of pike, there's no way I'd be fishing with a small pink hackle fly! I don't mean to pigeon-hole my comments to pike, alone, mind you. The same argument goes for other species, as well.

I'm not trying to cause a stir, but if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Why, when the gamefish are visibly feeding on one fare or another, would they go out of their way to eat something that in no way resembles something normally on the menu? You might as well drop a bare hook in the river and swing it down and across.

Sharp Steelie
05-13-2004, 11:23 PM
I learned how to fly fish for Steelhead while fly fishing
for Rainbow Trout on small New Mexico streams. Just
something for everyone to ponder. Thats my real
secret. Now just apply some flies that match a food
source. For me personally the most important key to
catching Steelhead is finding the fish. One thing is
for sure, when the fish are in have had a lot of success.
Also, all the first timers who have gone with me got
fish. Must be doing something right. If I had only one
tip to pass on concerning fly fishing for Steelhead this
is it:

Just fly fish for Rainbow Trout!

Already replied to a post concerning pike - yes the
fly works on multiple species. It's really nice to have
that option when out fly fishing.

I think the reason my little pink fly is so effective -
It imitates multiple food sources and it has great action
in the water. It even looks alive in lakes with different
types of retrieves.

Big K1
05-13-2004, 11:35 PM
Green butt spey and a Lady Caroline.


05-13-2004, 11:45 PM
Sharp Steelie,

When I began steelhead fishing, I fished for them the same way and in the same water types that I fished for rainbow trout. I did this because I had been fly fishing for trout in Pennsylvania and Montana since age 5, some 30 years of fly fishing, and succumbed to the false notion that they are only large trout and will respond to the same tactics as resident rainbow trout. I was singularly unsuccessful in my pursuit of steelhead doing so. Telling people, especially newcomers, that steelhead fishing is just like fishing for trout is disingenuous.

I was not successful in hooking steelhead until I changed tactics and began fishing in a very different manner with techniques that have more in common with Atlantic Salmon fishing than trout fishing.

I find it very hard to believe that every single time you took a newbie out for steelhead, they caught fish. Likewise, I find it incredulous that everytime you have fished for steelhead when there were fish about you caught fish. The best fly fishing steelheaders alive now or in the past have written about many days when they went fishless despite fish being present in the river where they were fishing. Everyone takes skunks, it is a fact of steelheading.

Sharp Steelie
05-14-2004, 01:39 AM
Flytyer, just curious - what flies where you using when
you tried to apply trout tactics.

What is it about human nature that we always seem
to make things more difficult than they really are.

My flies and techniques have worked extremely well
over the years - sorry, but they really do. Maybe it
is just some uncanny natural ability. The amount
of success would completely blow some peoples
minds - thank goodness have witnesses.

Not going to get in anymore pissing contests - have
plenty of fishing partners who know everything
that I have posted is for real - sorry if that upsets

Have actually been yelled at by some other anglers
for releasing to many fish! That was a first.

I now prefer to help others have the same success
that I have enjoyed. Don't think anyone could
actually comprehend my success for Steelhead
except for the ones who have seen it first hand.
Not going to list any numbers - wouldn't do any

Sharp Steelie
05-14-2004, 02:47 AM
Oh - since moving to Vancouver in 2001, 5 people that
had never tried fly fishing for Steelhead went with me
for the first time. All of them landed multiple fish using
my flies and a little bit of coaching. There is a pic of
Steve in the May STS - that was his first time out with
me - that is just one of many. After watching Steve
get 15 takes and land 9 fish this past fall finally figured
out that I have been onto something very special
for many, many years. Also figured out that I could
actually rub off on some others - it was fun to
watch! Guess Steve is not a newbie any more. How
about Toby landing a 28 pounder his first season
using a fly rod with my flies and techniques. Wonder
if those guys believe in my stuff - hmmmm.

Mean Mr Mustard
05-14-2004, 03:26 AM
On the positive side, think of all the used fly gear that will flood the marketplace as the newbies give up in disgust after realizing **'s pink thingy is in reality - impudent! So much hot air...

Sorry, SS, but I tire of your infomercials.

Hey, love thy neighbor is cool, but love thy self, to such an extreme, is simply sicko. Please pick a new hobby!

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:


Sharp Steelie
05-14-2004, 04:09 AM
MMM, don't forget the green thingy and the red thingy. Know
of 5 40 plus inch thingy's that were landed on those
thingy's within a 2 week thingy. Pretty damn good for just
a thingy! Uh Oh, here comes the envyomercial.

05-14-2004, 09:24 AM
Sorry OC, it got worse over night not better. I suggest to not read this thread anymore and perhaps in a day or two this will come to a head and mercifully stop.

Sharp Steelie
05-14-2004, 12:27 PM
KerryS - I agree - having the faith of a child is
one thing. Getting wrapped up in childish games
is completely another. One of my biggest problems
is not being able to back down from the truth -
sometimes it's just better to just shut up! People
will either accept it or they won't. Some of the ones
that won't will do everything in their power to
undermine something that is good - bummer! I'm
sorry if some people feel that I'm "stuff of legends",
"class of my own" etc. That was never my
intention. My intention is - If I can do it, so can
anyone else. I believe in trying to put my fishing
partners above the fish - and yes I'm far from
perfect! Okay - I'll shut up now

05-14-2004, 01:37 PM
Sharp Steelie,

I have tried in very polite and civil ways to point out why your posting that if a newcomer to steelhead fly fishing simply goes out and uses one of your three flies with the best of the lot being the "pink fly" leads them down the primrose path of not developing their technique and it has gone nowhere since you always have some inane retort and put down of anyone who questions your advice.

I have also tried in polite and respectful ways to point out why telling newcomers to steelhead fly fishing need to pay attention to water temp, water level, water clarity, time of year, and river being fish is important to their unltimate success and development as steelhead fly fishers and you likewise had inane and juvenile responses to them.

In similar fashion I have tried in equally polite, civil, and respectful ways get the information out that simply thinking of steelhead fishing as resident rainbow trout fishing is disingenuous and leads newcomers astray. Your response to this was similar inane, juvenile, and ego driven drivel, which was very tainted with vetriolic challenges to me.

You have also found it necesary to use vitriolic challenges to others who have attempted in respectful and civil ways to have you quit the bombastic claims you have been making about how wonderful your "pink fly"is and how great a steelhead fly fisher you are.

In case you haen't noticed, the members of this fishing site do not go about with the self-aggrandizement of their fishing prowess or bombastic claims about the universal and supreme effectiveness of any one of their flies. Instead, this is a company of gentlemen who like to share their knowledge of the sport they love with others who love the sport, regardless of their level of experience or expertise.

Whether anyone has been able to go out and pretty much catch fish at will or take out newbies and have them catch the fish of a lifetime their first time out is immaterial. In fact, the folks who participate herein very rarely say anything about the fishing, let alone the numbers and sizes of the fish they have caught or how many people they took out the first time (or 100th time for that matter) who have caught large steelhead because the newcomer did what the experienced fisher coached him to do.

What is important is that this is a company of gentlemen that enjoy civil discourse with each other (if you don't believe this is possible simply read the threads on the NOAA Fisheries salmon recovery policy change, a topic laden with emotion).

You on the other hand have been making veiled and outright threats to some who differ with you; have discocunted in a superficial and inane manner questions or comments about not making things oversimplified or overgeneralized; have gone out of your way to defend yourself when there was no attack of your methods; have resorted to immature ranting and wholesale put downs directed at any and all who may disagree with you or dare to point out the dangers of gross generalization regrading fishing method or flies; and you have not been gentlemanly, civil, respectful, or polite when discoursing with others.

Therefore, I am requesting you to be civil, polite, respectful, and gentlemanly in any future posts and discourses or I will simply delete any that are not civil, polite, respectful, or gentlemanly because the folks who come here to share and learn deserve no less than this.

05-14-2004, 01:48 PM

At the risk of being banned, censored or perhaps flogged by the forum moderator I make the following comments.

Probably the worst thing that happened to me today is you agreeing with me and that is saying something considering I am the manager of a construction company’s wide area network. Maybe a more appropriate job description would be high paid baby sitter. At any rate suffice to say I can take a lot of crap.

I watched while you did your self promoting bull crap on that other board. You know the one you got yourself kick off of for doing it. Now, I see you doing the same thing here. Have you ever wondered why you get the same response to you claims here that you got on the other board?

I come to this board because for the most part the people here are friendly, humble, knowledgeable, and do not seek the sort of perverted self justification that you seem to need. Please do me a favor, if you happen to agree with something I say on this board. Keep it to yourself.