If you could only have six flies......... [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: If you could only have six flies.........

02-03-2003, 06:10 PM
.....to use for the rest of your saltwater years, what would they be?

I received "Tying Contemporary Saltwater Flies" today from amazon and I'm merely a vice, and materials away from a fly tying tour de force.:hehe:

I'm looking for six patterns to hone my skills on.

If someone could come up with six other flies that require important techniques that would benefit my tying that would be great too.

Also, could someone PM me the recipe for The Deep Eel.

Doc Duprey
02-03-2003, 06:23 PM
...I wouldn't fish!

Seriously, I have no idea what the six would be. However, for technique, I suggest you include a classic bucktail pattern like a Ray's Fly, and a three feather flatwing like a Sure Thing from Ken Abrames' book. Those two will give you a lot of useful technique, as well as useful flies.

No matter what you tie, vary sizes and colors to give yourself a good range from which to choose, and...most important...have fun! Remember...there are no Fly Tying police!

Best regards,


02-03-2003, 06:27 PM
If I had it to do all over again prior to filling my basement with exotic materials I would try to tie six Ray's flies that are neat and look symmetric and indentical.

02-03-2003, 08:11 PM
Nothing fancy in my 'survival kit' only the type of jaw-smashing, prey crushing fare that the assasins of the shore come hunting for where and how I fish for them. My perspective is one of a flats sight fisherman and guide, and in this thrilling game the value of the fly is to serve it's role as a critical weapon in the arsenal. The real work goes into the hunter's brain, although much larger than the pea sized striper's noggin it's owner is often humbled in pursuit.

Don't get me wrong, I love the brilliance of flatwing tying and design, and admire the artistry that goes into them, but for me what I love about the striper is that he's all business and the flies I toss his way are direct, to the point.

Atlantics, steelhead, etc - now these flies get my floss, tinsel, seal fur, spey hackles, bronze mallard, indian crow, bustard, kingfisher, swan, jungle cock, etc. These fish are not feeding and it takes a special appeal to solicit a response. The centuries old traditions of the misty British Isles and spey casts covering a pool, the clack of a Hardy reel, the silvery leap of a bright salmon - lives in the patterns of old. But these things are very subjective, to some a traditional steelhead fly is a globug. Not to me.

What I love about striper fishing is that it's a "hand off the pigskin and run it up the middle" game. I'd just as soon hand Mike Alstott flowers than cast a salmon fly at a striper. To me it's a game of illusion, deceit, trickery and there's nothing frilly and fancy to it in my book. A stealthy hunter fools a stealthy hunter - and sometimes the angler even wins.

The 6 flies... assuming stripers and not tunoids...

#1 - Sand eel (this year anyway), deep eel
#2 - Bunker (fall favorite), Juro's Juvie
#3 - Squid (a must in the rips), tube squid, coho squid
#4 - Crab (gotta have it), EZ felt crab, new crabs this summer
#5 - Banger (surf mayhem), big livebody things in my flybox
#6 - Shrimp (I hate 'em, I love 'em) new trick this summer

6 just ain't enough! :eyecrazy:

Chogs, worms, silversides, flounder, bluebacks, even snapper blues have a place in the arsenal, but you said 6.

02-03-2003, 08:14 PM

The Deep eel (Real eel) recipe is in your e-mail inbox. It is from Juro's post in the saltwater archives.

I won't give you an exclusive list of 6 flies but:

-Clousers do work: tie some in black for night sorties
-I love the Sedotti Slammer - big ones
-Deceivers imitate lots of critters from baitfish to squid. Captain Art Sawayer uses pink and white and pink and yellow deceivers to imitate squid
-A big ass banger for top water situations. Got any buoy foam?
-Dave Skok's Mushmouth has worked really well for me
-Flatwings have produced well for me but they are not magical
-Art Sawayers silverside pattern from the Marlboro show of 2002 was a winner too
-I have also done well on Ray's flies

I wouldn't tie much beyond these patterns in the first year. I'll give you materials Millionaire style.

Come tie with me. I'll show you the ropes and the basics.


02-03-2003, 08:19 PM
We have been talking about tieing for months now and I am as guilty as they come for being short on time. I still have to run it by the fiance but how about the weekend of the 22nd. It would be great to share a few ideas, tell tall tales and leave with a few new pieces in the arsenal.


02-03-2003, 08:39 PM
Mark -

How about a tying clave? Sully hosts one in the Westford area this time of year, but there's no reason not to have one down in the south shore too.

Or somewhere in between the Doogue domains?


02-03-2003, 09:31 PM
If I had only 6

Rays fly
Deep Eel
Slim Jim
Bonito bandit
Snake fly
A Crab - because I've never given them a fair shot.

A tying clave sound like good way to pass the time on yet another frozen weekend.

02-03-2003, 10:06 PM
OK my .02
the rays fly always a producer and a #1 CHOICE

the clouser I really like to tie them in the same color scheme as the rays fly

next surf candies a good solid all around fly

slinger made a baby bunker in a buffy style and the fish just could not get enough of it cought blues bass and albies cant wait till next year to try it again

though I have never used them the feather brain looks like a fly I'll use for a long time to come

and a rats ass killer fly and looks oh so good in the water
Ive done well with all these flies with the exception of the feather brain but I do have very high hopes for it

02-03-2003, 10:12 PM
That's easy! In no particular order:

1. Clouser -- Olive/Chartreuse/White
2. Deceiver -- Olive/Chartruese/White
3. Deep Eel -- Bronze/Tan/White
4. Epoxy Fly -- Brown/Tan/White
5. Epoxy Fly -- Olive/Chartreuse/White
6. Bunny Fly -- White

If there was room for one more I'd have to add a silver/white foam crease fly. Virtually all of the fish that I caught this past season (my first year flyfishing) were caught on these flies. In my limited experience, I have not yet had any success with crab, shrimp or squid patterns, or with any of the large baitfish patterns. This is primarily because I did not give these patterns much, if any, time in the water. I also did very little night fishing because of my limited casting skills. If I ventured out after dark more often I'm sure I'd want a bulky black fly in my box.


02-03-2003, 10:56 PM
I'm curious... most answered with multiple flies that suggest the same food to the fish. That makes me wonder if with just 6 patterns you would trust one said imitation less than another, and could live without covering another species just to have the two.

Personally I would rather have a "goto" fly in each prey species, and cover more species in a limited assortment scenario. It might take a while to sort out the best bunker but eventually you settle on one and that's the one you need.

A good example is the deep eel, it covers the sand eel pretty thoroughly despite being a >gasp< weighted eye clouser variant. I think of it as a large bonefish fly ;) Point being if the fish are eating sand eels you don't need another pattern to cover the feed activity. I don't know of any downturned point flies that I could say that about, nor would I trade it for a down-turned point fly in my sand eel slot.

With 6 precious spots, it would take a radical benefit to get me to give up a slot for a duplicate species fly, but that's just my .02.

02-04-2003, 12:36 AM
Interesting point Juro,

I chose my selection based upon what worked for me. Several of the flies I chose may best imitate a sand eel, but they also may imitate a silversides or bay anchovy. A couple are more likely to imitate juvie pogies. The main reason I chose multiple versions of "similar" flies was to vary the color or action or to accomodate the depth/speed of the water I was trying to fish. The main reason I didn't use flies that imitate shrimp, crabs or squid is that I didn't (don't?) have any confidence in them. Of course, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy: I never used them because I never caught anything on them, but I never caught anything on them because I never used them :rolleyes: .

My list will very likely change as I gain experience and find out what works when my usual flies are refused.


02-04-2003, 01:19 AM
If I could only have 6 flies, I`d take up golf!!! Seriously, my list would run pretty close to Jerry`s but my all-time #1 go-to is the 4in. Olive over white with chartruse krystal flash, Half+half.

02-04-2003, 05:11 AM
Gartside soft hackle, its a simple fly but a real killer. The reason it works is it has plenty of motion. Also Gratside Gurgler a proven top water fly.
The white Estaz fly another simple but effective fly.
Rays fly and the Clouser. What I look for in a fly is simplicity and one that creates plenty of motion. Often the most realistic flies work to catch the fisherman but not the fish. The Hare's ear comes to mind ,a proven classic simple but deadly. You did not mention freshwater but the elk hair caddis would be the on the list.

02-04-2003, 07:01 AM
Deep Eel, chartruese/white
Deep Eel, Chartruese-olive blend over white
Deep eel, chartruse-olive over lavender over white
Deep eel, olive over lavender over white
Deep eel, tan over white
Deep eel, olive- brown blend over chartruse-lavender blend over white

All with various amounts of various color angel hair and polarflash. I like varity.

02-04-2003, 09:56 AM
1).. Juro's Deep eel, 2). Harry koon's Rat's Ass in chartruese, 3) my Crab Apple, 4) Instread of a deciever.I would have a feather brain,5) Clouser, Chartuese, 6), Any kind of Popper.

Dble Haul
02-04-2003, 10:35 AM
I'm not gonna limit myself to specific colors, except where noted....

1. Banger....gotta have it for topwater
2. Bigeye baitfish....depending on the color scheme, this covers many large baitfish
3. Deep eel.....bronze over smoke for the flats, chartruese over smoke for the surf and any strong rip currents
4. Surf candy.....tied long, can be trimmed on the water to match the size of many slender baits
5. Scudback shrimp....don't use it often, but when shrimp is all they're eating I'm thankful to have it

That's it. I could list a 6th fly (crab, worm, etc.), but its use would be dwarfed in comparison to what I've already listed.

Okay, number 6 would be a clouser. :p

02-04-2003, 10:44 AM
If you have to have six types leave at least four at home. Age and experience lead to simplify,simplify! my .02

Tod D
02-04-2003, 01:06 PM
IMHO, Juro makes a key point re bait/fly similarity in his 2nd post.

Selecting multiple patterns that either imitate roughly the same bait or are roughly the same size seems akin to carrying 4 different brands of intermediate fly line or 5 different 9’ 9# fly rods. We wouldn’t think to do that (well, ok, maybe some of us would), so why do it w/ flies?

As someone battling a multi-year addiction to tying flatwings and other “fancy” flies, it pains me to say this, but Juro’s right: it’s seems like it's not the fly per se, but how it’s fished, (at the risk of being anthropomorphic) how it squares w/ what the fish expects the bait to do, and how the fish responds to that particular presentation.

Having said that, I would question Juro on how exactly a Mike Alstott rush up the middle can be reconciled w/ the notion of illusion, deceit and trickery, but I digress… :hehe:

Last year, I reread Dave Hughe’s book, “Essential Trout Flies”, as I needed to restock my trout boxes. Got me thinking about factors to consider w/ my saltwater flies. Size – itsy bitsy to potentially life-threatening to cast? Behavior – how does it act? Position in the water column – top, middle, or deeeeeeeep?

After all this blather, if I had to choose six I’d go along the following categories or functions:

Topwater –
1. Popper/Banger/Gurgler – One of them. Something to stir things up.

2. Snake fly or an eel punt – big & black at night, chartreuse or yellow during day

“Middle” water column
3. Thin/medium baitfish pattern – So many possibilities, but got to give the nod to a Ray’s Fly. (Arguably, if it’s the season a small pattern also can be used to imitate a clamworm or, in a pinch, shrimp. Must admit I’m partial to Kenney Abrame’s “Ruthless” pattern at night for this reason).

4. "Fat” bunker fly – Boy, John M’s featherbrain looks like a winner here…

5. Crab – Love Striblue’s creations, but starting out perhaps a few of the Velcro button variety? They’re relatively easy to make

6. Cape Cod / Deep Sand Eel – Juro’s creation and/or a large clouser variant. Love tan/root beer and/or olive on the Bayside flats.

I’d figure on different sizes for each – small, medium, large – so my 6 flies are now up to around 18. Throw in some different colors, it’s 36, and so on, and so on… So much for simplicity.

02-04-2003, 01:39 PM

02-04-2003, 02:00 PM
... I think that I could get nearly all of them out of Bob Pop's book.

1. Bob's Banger (red/white getting the most action for me)
2. Surf Candy (with hackles)
3. Keel Eel (with hackles)
4. Ultra Squid, or some similar squid pattern
5. Ultra Shrimp, weighted and unweighted, bend back with point up
6. Eric's Standing Crab, or another similar crab pattern

That would pretty much cover everything for me up and down the East Coast. As an extra choice, I'd go with one of Striblue's Feather Brains.

02-04-2003, 05:49 PM

I was thinking about the 22nd of Feb. too. I have Senior Doogue checking on some sites south of Boston for a tying clave on the 22nd. I will keep you all posted.

Either way a private tying session at a certain dude's house on the South Shore (space limited) may be in order for the 22nd.

Just talked to Jeff B. He is free then too...looks like a tying clave is getting off of the ground and I will take command.


02-04-2003, 07:13 PM
Well..if you had to have one fly and it was for saltwater which would it be....and can anybody name the one fly that is in survival packs or US. Military survival packs?

02-04-2003, 08:22 PM
I forgot Patrice's B-Day is the 22nd. Can we make it the 21st.


02-04-2003, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by flyfisha1
... I think that I could get nearly all of them out of Bob Pop's book.

Not sad at all - that just goes to prove just how thorough, important and valuable Bob Pop's contribution is to the atlantic flyfisherman! We're lucky to have him on the case :)

I'd be glad to make the Doogue tying bash but will be in Seattle hamming it up at the west coast Forum booth! Have a great time. Also want to hold a large tying bash this winter in Waltham, more news to come.

02-04-2003, 09:03 PM
I live on the South Shore.........I have limited space.......am I a dude? I don't know about that.........:chuckle:

02-05-2003, 12:15 AM
Sean, you`re in trouble, not even hitched yet and your allready forgeting birthdays.

02-05-2003, 01:19 AM
Hey sean I was going to say what Steve said man cant be blowing her off yet lol
Anyway I would like a chance to hang and tie with the guys from the board if the space is open
take care

02-05-2003, 06:18 AM

The 21st in the PM is an option. For me that would work out well at a certain dude's house in Wilmington rather than a certain dude's house in Weymouth.

Sean, I will give you a call today to look at our options for different dates.


02-05-2003, 11:50 AM
Is there actually a fly? I thought those kits contained a white Upperman bucktail. (A jig...)

02-05-2003, 03:37 PM
By the way- can anyone give me a reference for tying the deep eel? I have tried to use the search feature but no matter what I do I get a message that my search string must be "four words"... even when it is.

Dble Haul
02-05-2003, 03:39 PM
Go into the archive of striper flies and use "deep" as the search word. :)

02-06-2003, 11:18 AM
Thanks- that worked fine! I still dunno why I have the
error message so often. :cool:

Dave Drennan
02-11-2003, 12:46 AM
I'm guessing but I think it's a Mickey Finn