"Save the popsicles for a trip to B.C."
Sorry this is a bit off topic but I had to chuckle when I read this. The popsicle was my number one fly this year out on the western basin tribs. I went one stretch of about 6 trips this fall where I was averaging a pull an hour...all on swung popsicles. For a chop like me at least that is enough to convince me that they work here in NY.
That said, I only use Marabou hackled patterns in stained or low vis water. If I want a long hackle fly in clear water conditions I will go to a Spey pattern. To my eye at least, the individual hackle fibers of a Spey look more lifelike in clear waters where as a Marabou hackled fly forms a tremendous silhouette but the hackles kinda blend together to form one pulsating unit. This seems to be the ticket in low vis conditions...for me at least. I'll also use bunny flies for the same reason.
As far as the traditional west coast patterns are concerned. I think you could open up Combs and pick out any fly in the plates and have success with it. As always, the key is to match the fly to the conditions. I tend to fish bigger water relative to most great lakes tribs so patterns like Cook Marabou's or Glasso Speys do fine for me. I'd agree that on smaller more pressured tribs they won't be as effective.
For whatever reason I get a charge out of catching fish on flies that I read about in Combs etc. Maybe it adds a bit of romanticism to my fishing. Or maybe it just gives some sort of a connection with the great rivers and fisherman out west that I have read about but yet to experience.