Adding Triggers to Fly Patterns: Subliminal Messaging for Trout

Fly tying: We might carry a lot of patterns, but if none match the searching terms outlined by trout, then what good are they?

Adding Triggers to Fly Patterns: Subliminal Messaging for Trout
Understanding why fish strike at flies

July 2020

If you look at the majority of fly patterns fished throughout the western United States, you have to admit they are mostly designed for specific tasks. We've embraced the challenge of trying to develop flies that look exceedingly realistic to specific stream-side insects. The armada of PMD imitations are all focused on looking like PMDs and not much else. Most caddis patterns are meant for caddis hatches, etc...

Now compare this approach to the Euro-nymphing world where precise imitations aren't the preferred approach to fly-tying. Euro nymphs embrace nondescript, albeit sometimes flashy, generalizations. The focus is squarely set on the weight of your flies and their presentation; a stark contrast to what I see as the accepted western method of identifying and mimicking insects that are active in the water system that you're fishing. Obviously, this is not always true; we do fish attractors out west, but generally, the focus is on matching the hatches. But is hatch-matching more productive than flashy attractors? Well, you don't see the competition guys trying to excessively match hatches — they carry a broad swath of flies for all situations.

I'm sure by now you've seen plenty of jigged Euro-nymphs across Instagram or in fly shops. Like me, you've also probably thought, "How the hell do these catch fish?!" But, is it possible we western US anglers are so steeped in "match the hatch" lore, that we've forgotten how to broadly instigate trout takes?

You might be reading this and thinking that I'm nuts, but think about this: