Modern Trouting / 2013-07-19 12:01:30

Most Modern fly patterns in general appear to fish as food organisms of one kind or another. True consistency with a fly pattern occurs when fish are caught repeatedly by that lure style when the fish cannot distinguish the difference between the natural organism and the artificial pattern. Consistency can also be achieved with a lure that repeatedly stimulates aggression caused by movement or color or light reflection or whatever making the fish strike at it or attack it.

Flies that achieve this begin with an impression (impersonation of life) or suggestion (specific life form) of an organism or group of organisms. The Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, for example, suggests mayfly nymphs or caddis pupae, while the Brooks stonefly Nymph is a good impression of the Pteronarcys Salmonfly. Other consistent fly patterns are termed exact, realistic or accurate. The No Hackle Sidewinder, Shirley’s Backswimmer or Dubbed Leg Stonefly is exact imitations of specific insects. Flies like the Wooly Buggar that do not resemble any specific food organism yet consistently catch fish do so as their movement and appearance of life often stimulates aggression causing gamefish to strike at them.

Realistic, exact or accurate fly patterns is an area of fly-tying and fishing that is still considered modern as the markets of the world to date have little to offer within a reasonable price range and variety that can offer the angler a quality and practical realistic choice. It is herein that chinafishingflies offers the angler a new choice.

The general angling system, or method, commonly used to achieve consistent results consists of four steps including: locating the fish; Identifying the food on which it is feeding; Selecting the proper artificial pattern; Presenting it in a natural manner.


Trout locations are broken into two categories: general areas and specific areas .General areas are easy to find, while specific areas are spots on lotic or lentic environments that contain concentrations of trout. These are easier to locate if you keep in mind the five basic survival requirements of game fish: Protection, Oxygen, Temperature, Food & Comfort.

OXYGEN: Game fish must have abundant dissolved oxygen around them. This gets into the water from either the air above or the plants below. Often in lakes that are moderate-to- shallow in depth, and are protected from strong wind action, the bottoms becomes low in oxygen during late winter and late summer. During these times, fish are forced to move into shallower areas for oxygen. Areas of turbulence have a higher oxygen content, with riffles, waterfalls and wave-swept areas being good examples.

FOOD: More often than not, most trout feed using many little bites rather than a few large bites. However, when the opportunity presents itself they will feed on larger bites as they become available. Peek feeding times occur then when insects or other food organisms are abundant and easy to obtain. Many gamefish are also opportunistic, so occasionally, particularly when insect activity is slow, they will feed on easily obtainable food, including large items, providing that they are hungry. A trout’s survival lies in balancing with the energy it expends to capture food and the amount of calories it receives from that food.

Aquatic insects and other underwater organisms often have the same basic survival requirements, so areas where they live are usually shared by both. Like the various gamefish species though, they have preferred areas where their needs are best met. By becoming familiar with the aquatic organisms of your favorite fishing spot and matching them with your choice of fly you are employing the modern angling system.

PROTECTION: Trout, like all animals, need protection from predators and from too much sunlight. Often this can be obtained from weed beds, lily pads, log jams, etc. or by the depth of the water itself. Areas of any stream, lake or river that have good oxygen and food content enhanced by such protective structures are usually very productive.

TEMPERATURE: Fish are very sensitive to water temperature. Each species thrives in its preferred temperature, but can tolerate a wider range. The temperature chart for the trout species below shows the preferred temperature and the general tolerance range. Trout are healthiest and most active at their ideal temperature, this helps explain why you can have poor or excellent days when angling if you pay attention to water temperature.

Experienced trouters carry a thermometer for this reason. Stated earlier that trout will move into the shallows of lakes in late winter or early spring for oxygen. These areas are the first to warm up after ice-out and often also attract other food organisms for the same reasons as well.

COMFORT: The need for comfort can be tied in with temperature and protection. When fish are feeding, areas that offer comfort while feeding become temporary hot spots, such as the shaded side of the creek, gentle riffles on the surface of a lake or slower currents caused by a structure. Often such areas have no trout, but when the dinner bell rings they move to areas where they can feed comfortably and efficiently. When trout do move into such areas they are on high alert and easily spooked so casting to them can be quite challenging.


Consistent trouters can often determine what the fish are feeding on by observing the water or the fish themselves. When such experience like this is combined with netting insects the results are often quite rewarding. Netting insects is a practical method to capture them so they can be identified, observed and thereby a methodology for presentation projected.

Netting insects is quite simple. If you are on a stream, place the net slightly downstream of the intended area and turn over rocks in the area using a stick or your foot. Dig your foot into the mud to look for soft bottom dwellers. The same applies to a lake. Skim the surface with the net to get a sample and a closer look at the floating foods. Drag the net through lilly pads or weeds to catch various fauna.

The most common type of insect net is made with two 4-foot dowels that are about 1/2 inch thick, with common bug screen (the same kind as used in tent windows) attached between the dowels. This is sometimes called a “pole science”. A pole science is very efficient in capturing various aquatic fauna on many water types. Lake sciences are usually like a landing net with bug screen instead of fish net attached.

Detailed books on aquatic insects, their habits, habitat, and even fly imitations are available at most reputable tackle shops. By focusing on the silhouette or shape of insect or organism to be imitated and by its movement in or on the water you are concentrating on what the gamefish sees first. Light reflection caused by air bubbles or shiny surfaces is more important than specific color. All flys when on the surface seen from below will appear as a shape without color when viewed from a background of light. It is a well known fact that a great majority of insect hatches occur during low light periods where again silhouette and movement will determine the organisms identification. Flies and lures fished in waters even slightly discolored again will nullify the shade of the lure. The vast array of color styles in the shape of a mayfly adult offered to anglers by the world’s factory marketplace is somewhat comical to the modern angler who knows even a small amount of entomology. It is by far the greater advantage to the angler to carry a broad selection of silhouettes or fly shapes in their fly box than it is to have only a few shapes but in a lot of colors.

Using an insect net generally helps you to understand the trout’s world by bringing you closer to it. Sometimes a whole smorgasbord of specimens shows up in your net, but if there is no visual feeding evidence to help you make a selection, you must gather more criteria.

At these times, it is best to try netting in a few areas to see if any one type of food is more available. Perhaps there are an unusual number of underwater specimens drifting by, or a good standby at these times is to locate a minnow or bait fish of some kind. But remember, littlefish, like big fish, have favorite areas too, so once again your net comes into play. When observing minnows and other bait fish, take a good look at how much light reflection comes from the sides of the minnows body. A properly tied minnow imitation fished with life like action can be most effective in many angling situations. The pearl dace minnow and its cousins are very pretty, reflecting lots of light from their sides and can be very attractive to any opportunistic gamefish. A stickleback minnow, on the other hand, is much more drab and camouflaged. So when there are no obvious feeding signs to indicate a particular food form, choose the largest or most visible specimen caught in your net.


Before you select any fly pattern or other artificial food form, a couple of common feeding behaviors with trout should be kept in mind. Also see the information about gamefish behavior and angling theory in education section.

RANDOM FEEDING: This simply means fish are more willing to take whatever is available, and many trout, particularly stream trout, will feed this way. Any lake or stream with unstable or low food concentrations will cause this behavior to occur as competition for food is more intense. Obviously, random feeders are easier to catch because their diet is somewhat limited. However, for consistency, your artificial pattern should still look like something that they are used to seeing.

SELECTIVE FEEDING: Selective feeders generally concentrate on one type of food at a particular time; this occurs when one food item is abundant and easy to obtain. Fertile lakes and streams, often teeming with life, are often dominated by selectively feeding fish as they can afford to be choosy.

The main criteria for selecting any food items are:

Shape (silhouette)- The silhouette of your artificial pattern should be as close to the natural as possible.

Size-Same as above.

Light reflection- The light-reflecting abilities of minnows and many insects are of far greater importance than are specific colors. Do not ignore colours, but rather use general shades in light, medium and dark.

Moving appendages- Particularly on large patterns, having legs, fins or other body parts that move when you twitch the fly are the ultimate. Many of the nymph patterns we tie have legs made of quill and fur or thread and fur that will move when you twitch the fly underwater, especially after the water has soaked and softened them.


The presentation of any fly pattern, no matter what it looks like, is useless if the trout knows or suspects humans are present and is spooked by them. Remote areas however, where humans don’t normally go can have fish that are not as easily spooked by human presence.

STEALTH: In areas where trout are familiar with humans, stealth is required to get the fly to the fish without it knowing that you are there and without it knowing that the fly is attached to a line. Sounds, shadows, waves or anything that reveals your presence will result in a spooked trout. So relax and take time to study the water to find the best place to get the fly to the fish without arousing its suspicion. Watching trout react to a fly pattern is an experience in itself.

MOVEMENT: After you have identified the organisms caught in your net, put each specimen back in the water and watch it. Does it swim? Does it twitch? By observing the natural movements, you will determine the kind of action you want to impart to your fly, if any. HABITAT: Habitat involves both horizontal and vertical dimensions. Horizontal means that certain areas of a stream or lake will by preferred by certain food organisms. For example, a burrowing insect needs an area with a soft bottom. Although insects, like fish, move around, they have places in the water where they congregate. The vertical dimension is merely having a bottom dweller near the bottom and a surface insect on the surface.

Sometimes you can do everything the way it should be done and yet the trout refuses to submit. We are referring to the times when a fish turns at the last second or completely refuses a pattern after inspection. We believe one of the principal reasons for this, particularly with consistent patterns, is human scent or any other unnatural odor. If you drag your fly in the current or douse it for a minute or two, the chances of this occurring are far less than if you cast it “fresh”. The senses of smell and sight are the trout’s two principle cryteria for detecting the truth about any food item. Whether you fish for employment or recreation, it should be relaxing and fun. To share successful methods with other anglers benefits the whole industry. Perhaps the words of wisdom from the late Charles Brooks say it best:

“While I have earnestly tried to describe many nymph fishing methods, I would not want any reader to think that these were the only successful methods, or that other methods should not be used. Do not hesitate to try the unusual and unorthodox, do not accept anyone’s word as gospel. I repeat, fish are individuals and have traits and characteristics that are inherent in individuals. Anglers are individuals also, and one should encourage individuality. This is the best method for assuring progress in any field.”

Next:Gamefish Behaviors and Comparative Angling Theories