Most Used flies? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Most Used flies?

Scott K
11-12-2002, 12:23 AM
A ponder for you. There are lots of flies out there for Steelhead fly fishing. It kind of makes me wonder considering the old adage:
" 98 percent presentation, 2 percent fly."

There are some favourites out there, some flies used more than others. I was wondering from what you know/understand which flies you believe are the most popular/used in general by fly anglers for the below applications.

"True" (dead drifted) dry fly -

Waked surface fly -

Swung Subsurface/wet fly -

Dredged Swung fly (sink tip and/or heavily weighted) -

Hang down/slow swing -

Nymph -

11-12-2002, 12:37 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Scott K
[B]A ponder for you. There are lots of flies out there for Steelhead fly fishing. It kind of makes me wonder considering the old adage:
" 98 percent presentation, 2 percent fly."

There are some favourites out there, some flies used more than others. I was wondering from what you know/understand which flies you believe are the most popular/used in general by fly anglers for the below applications.

"True" (dead drifted) dry fly -

Muddler Minnow

Waked surface fly -
Waller Walker

Swung Subsurface/wet fly -
Otis bug or a "BBB" aka big, black and buggy.

Dredged Swung fly (sink tip and/or heavily weighted) -

Toss up between an Otis Bug or (Bless you Malcom!) a Willie Gun.

Hang down/slow swing -
Prince Nymph

11-12-2002, 10:42 AM
I agree in your 98-2 percent split however I feel that the 2% is far more important to the angler. If you have confidence in the fly, the presentation will be better. Anyways, here are my thoughts on the list.

"True" (dead drifted) dry fly - NA (don't fish them)

Waked surface fly - Tie between Bulkley Mouse and a riffled Purple Muddler

Swung Subsurface/wet fly - Purple Spey

Dredged Swung fly (sink tip and/or heavily weighted) - Tie between Black Scampi or Orange/Red Marabou Spider

Hang down/slow swing - Speys in Black or Purple

Nymph - NA (don't fish them)

11-12-2002, 12:02 PM
I will have to say I do not have many patterns I stick with. I like tying so I am apt to use a different fly almost everytime I go out. Especially with speys and spider type flies. I just keep the colors consistent (bright/dark).

Will list what I am using now:

"True" (dead drifted) dry fly -


Waked surface fly -

Juro's Bunny Rat

Swung Subsurface/wet fly -

Tie between a coal car and Lelands low water Freight Train spey he ties.

Dredged Swung fly (sink tip and/or heavily weighted) -

General Practioner in dark purple or orange. Plan on trying out the Ally's shrimp this winter as well.

Hang down/slow swing -

For now I am using variations of Glasso Sol Duc Spey. Both in the original colors and in a black and purple variation.

Nymph -

Do not fish them.

11-12-2002, 03:41 PM
Would it be apostasy to add Cigarette Butt to the list of dry flies?

A bait fisherman I met on a river one day was pretty generous with his information. So I responded in kind, telling him I'd picked up a few fish as well, several on dry flies. He snorted in derision, refusing to believe that a steelhead would take a dry fly.

With a degree of recklessness I bet him $ 20.00 that not only could it be done with relative ease but that I'd use a cigarette butt to demonstrate just how nondescriminating (recklessly imprudent) these fish can be.

I strapped a filter onto a fine wire hook with some tying thread (I recall it was a Player Light) slathered some Mucilin on it and after a few casts in water I knew held fish, picked up a nice 10 lb. doe. Although duly impressed, the guy mumbled something about having left his wallet in his car but he'd be sure to pay me the next time he saw me on the river....

The moral of the story (for me anyway) is-- try and collect on your bets up front.... and ain't necessarily what's tied on the end of your line; it's what it's doing in the water.

11-12-2002, 03:58 PM
Must've been a hatchery fish! :devil:

That's a classic Marketic.

11-12-2002, 04:02 PM
Maybe all our non returning native fish are in a cancer ward somewhere up in BC.:razz:

Willie Gunn
11-12-2002, 04:13 PM
Great story, but it begs the question, What is the defination of a "fly"?

11-12-2002, 04:32 PM
The reason she went for the cigarette is she had just spawned. Had a girl friend like that once.:hehe:

11-12-2002, 04:45 PM
Wilie Gunn--

Your point is well taken about what may or may not constitute a "fly". But perhaps we can agree that the use of a Butt in this particular instance might at least be considered a fly? In the ointment? Of selective trout?

I suspect you would have been a bit more impressed if it had been a Rothman Light but one must make do with what one has on hand when screaming in church on a wager.

11-12-2002, 06:24 PM
I agree with Kerry S that can be the only plausible reason for female steelhead to rise for a cigarette butt. :D

I wonder what the odds are of doing that second time ?:confused:

11-13-2002, 12:18 AM
Great question:

Dead Drift Dry: N/A, I don't fish dead drift dries.

Waked/Skated dries: toss up between Lemire's Greased Liner and Waller Waker.

Swung subsurface wet fly (on floating line): toss up between a Night Dancer tied Irish Shrimp style, a Silver Blue low-water feather wing, and a low-water Lady Caroline.

Dredged Swung Wet Fly on a sink tip: Toss up between Glasso's Orange Heron, Johnson's Deep Purple Spey or a Purple Emperor Full Dress Feather Wing.

Nymph: I suppose you could call Bob Arnold's Spade a nymph, but I never fish it weighted and only fish it in summer/fall.

11-13-2002, 02:03 AM
Dead drifted dry: steelhead bee #8 ( never taken a fish this way but i do it on the umpqua once in a while)

Skater/Waker: Steelhead caddis #6

Wet: Standard skunk #1/0

Wet fly dead drift: standard skunk #1/0( a dead drifted skunk is awsome guys try it!!!!!

Wet fly dredged: Black and purple marabou tied on a cheap mustad hook. # 1/0

11-13-2002, 09:04 AM
Without a doubt presentation is the key to taking steelhead on the fly. My presentation is enhanced if I have confidence in the fly. The following flies have served me well for years; in fact I would fish with confidence on any of my usual waters summer or winters with a fly box with only these:

Dead drift dry: A toss-up between Haig-Brown's steelhead bee and Grey Wulff.

Waked/skated: Riffle Demon (black).

Floating line (grease line) wet fly: Lady Caroline.

Sinking line(s): Winter Sculpin.

Tight lines

11-13-2002, 11:15 AM
True" (dead drifted) dry fly - Don't dead drift yet

Waked surface fly -
Green or Purple Foam Dome

Swung Subsurface/wet fly -
Green Butt Black bear, Thunder and lightening dark, or Black GP

Dredged Swung fly (sink tip and/or heavily weighted) -
black GP or My Marabou Black Eye

Hang down/slow swing - Ugly bug

I keep telling myself it is time to go to one fly box but I never can quite get there.


11-13-2002, 11:55 AM
I am not a PNW fisherman, but interesting there does not appear to be that many nymph steelhead fisherman. Also don't see much written on nymphs in the PNW fishing literature.

To me a GP pattern is more a nymph than a wet fly

Nymphs have to be the number one pattern here in the great lakes because thats what it looks like 80-90% of the fisherman are using. Hexes, stones, caddis, etc...

I swing spey marabous and streamers but only occasionally will use traditional hair wing wet fly patterns.

Dry flies would be bombers,Wulffs, muddlers

11-13-2002, 01:43 PM
While I like to experiment with different patterns from time to time my all time favorite steelhead fly is an all purple Woolly Worm about 1 1/2" to 2" long with extra long hackles (it's a killer on bass too). I use this for all wet fly methods. It is simple fast and cheap and I have a lot of confidence in this fly.
As to Marketic's cigarette butt fly, I don't know if it would work again for a steelhead but I do know some Montana brown trout thought a similar fly made a dandy hopper fly when cast tight against the overhanging grass on a small meadow stream.

11-13-2002, 02:01 PM
PM -

I would argue that a GP is not a nymph but a shrimp style wet - a nymph is drifted and a GP is swum like any other wet.

For that matter, a nymph that is fished in the classic style is being used as a wet, and a wet that is deep-drifted is being "nymph'ed".

I think the biggest difference between PNW and G/L styles is that most PNW rivers, runs allow for swinging at various water columns including the surface film, and the bulk of deep winter steelheading in the G/L calls for deep-drifting of flies in cold temperatures on the stones. At least that is what my experience in both fisheries would lead me to believe.

(all subjective and in my own humble opinion)

11-13-2002, 03:11 PM
"True" (dead drifted) dry fly - Don't

Waked surface fly - Discomoecus (muddled elk hair october caddis thing--my favorite summer fly for 3 years now)

Swung Subsurface/wet fly - Brown muddler #2, switch to purple at dusk

Dredged Swung fly (sink tip and/or heavily weighted) - An orange spey thing except with a fox squirrel wing.

Hang down/slow swing - McLeod Ugly (with black marabou wing)

Nymph - Don't

Since others have mentioned fly boxes, I carry 3: Dries, muddlers, and wets. In the wet box I have basically 5 patterns of different sizes, covering light/high contrast, dark, orange, and purple color schemes: Skunk or Freight Train, Coal Car, McLeod Ugly, Purple Diamond, and orange spey.

I don't really change flies much, but when nothing's happening, why not?


11-13-2002, 07:53 PM
Originally posted by flytyer
toss up between a Night Dancer tied Irish Shrimp style

I was curious how you tie the Night Dancer in this manner...I've always believed the Night Dancer to be a productive pattern and do have a good number of confidence in it eventhough I have yet to rise a fish to this pattern.


11-13-2002, 09:48 PM
Dead drift dry- irresistible
Waker- bomber
Swung- green butt black spey type deal
Dredge- purple egg sucking leech
hang down- speys
nymph- big heavy black stone


11-14-2002, 01:48 AM

The Night Dancer has caught quite a few steelhead for me during summer/fall in size 6 or 8. I also tie it as a spey with 2 dyed black golden Pheasant Saddle feathers tied in on top of the hook ala G.P. fashion reaching to the end of the body on a Alec Jackson Spey hook in Sizes 5, 3, and 1 1/2. Very effective during dark. overcast days in winter, spring, and late fall after a good rain.

I tied it in Irish Shrimp Style this summer and it was far more effective than the original hairwing.

Here is how it is done Irish Shrimp Style:

Hook: Alec Jackson Spey or Dee Low Water in # 5,7,9.

Tip: fine Silver oval

Tail: red spade feather wrapped as hackle leaning back
toward hook point, best acheived by doubling the

Rear Body: black floss, fine silver oval rib, tied 1/2 way up.

Veiling: purple ultraviolet Krystal Flash above and below.

Center Hackle: Purple.

Front Body: black floss, fine silver oval rib.

Veiling: purple ultraviolet Krystal Flas above and below.

Front Hackle: Purple.

Yes, it takes longer to tie than the original, and some of the tying steps (the body veilings) are not something that those who do not tie featherwing Atlantic Salmon Flies usually know how to do, but they are not hard. All a veiling means is to tie some material or feather in both on the top of the hook and under the hook at that point. Really rather easy to do once you get the hang of it.

I don't have a digital camera or I would include a picture of it.

11-14-2002, 08:41 AM
On the swing: Black GP
Waked: Greased Liner

11-15-2002, 12:01 PM

I guess I cannot see the difference between a shrimp style fly and a nymph such as a Michigan hex pattern. They are very similar in the tying style.

True we have to get down on the stones most of the time in the great lakes with heavy sink tips where as in the PNW there is a much longer period of time over the season where a dry or medium sumng fly is effective. Best time for a medium swung fly for GL summer runs starts in june (on limited rivers) and in autumn (september/october) for the summer runs and fall run steelhead. Once November hits and cold weather (like now) got to keep deep into the final 1-3 feet of water to get them to strike although through the spring runs.

At least thats what my experience has shown. I learned the hard way thinking they would come up in the winter time. Wrong that was.

I guess the next question is what is a string leeche or bunny pattern considered.:devil:

BTW, love the Purple Nasty pattern of yours had two summer runs almost take the rod out of hand with those. They were really hot fish.


11-15-2002, 11:23 PM
Thanks, Flytyer!!! :)