They fascinate partly because I have such limited experience with them. The Lake Erie steelhead I fish for are many things, but they're definitely not selective. These stocked fish will -- on the same day -- munch on everything and anything ranging from a tiny nymph to a six-inch leech pattern. In contrast, selective trout will feed (at least it appears this way) on one type of fly and one type only.
On Saturday, I sat on the grassy bank of the Frying Pan River and watched rainbow trout suspended just under the surface rise up and sip blue winged olives as they drifted downstream. The trouts' green backs helped them blend into their environment, but their rainbow pink stripes made them stand out. Evolution isn't perfect, I guess. The smaller ones simply poked their heads out of the water, opened their mouths and inhaled, barely disturbing the surface. The larger fish tipped up and would then tip back down, their broad tails breaking the surface as they returned to their holding spots. Sometimes the tail would appear more than a foot behind where the mouth broke the surface.
|My quiet pool on the Frying Pan.|
I have read all too many stories from better anglers about their struggles to identify the right fly for selective trout. These angler/authors write in fine detail about how they chose between the fly with a tuft of blue-green feather vs. one with a tuft of green-blue. But I rarely have more than a few versions of a particular fly in my box, so my selection process is rather simple; picking between a single style of emerger and a single style of a dun. But over the years I've accumulated a variety of blue winged olive patterns, and the guide I fished with on Thursday, Brandon Soucie, had encouraged me to give any of them a try if I encountered rising fish.
I picked out an emerger pattern that would ride low in the film, but could be spotted thanks to a small piece of yarn sticking up out of the fly's back. I'm not sure of the fly's origin. It may have been from Blue Ribbon Flies for a Yellowstone trip which featured few rising trout (and a lot of leftover flies) or it could have been from a fly shop in State College. I just know I didn't tie it -- my clumsy fingers cannot handle something so delicate.