Every fly pattern has a life of its own. Less than a month ago we talked about a Blue-winged Olive emerger pattern that I always seemed to be tweaking and how there are other fly patterns that I haven’t “messed” with for years.

The fly pattern you see here today is one that a long-time South Platte River fishing guide showed me right when I got into the guide business. I don’t remember if he explained what it imitated or if it just worked well or what. At the time I was so anxious about just getting my “clients” into trout I was grabbing at anything that might give me an edge. And believe me this fly pattern caught trout. You could fish it subsurface as an unweighted point or dropper fly in a two-fly nymphing rig. You could dead-drift it or drag it. When the trout were on it they didn’t care. Sometimes I even fished it as a dry fly.

Engle 006.jpg

The only drawback was that the little “nymph” was pretty much only effective around the time of the Yellow Sally hatch. A few years later I discovered the reason why that was true. I was eating lunch by the river when I noticed what looked like a little stonefly nymph with stubby wings making its way up a blade of grass. I don’t think it was quite ready to fly off yet, but it was transforming into an adult Yellow Sally in front of my eyes.

The fly imitation the guide had shown me several years before was a pretty good, if impressionistic, imitation of that that little stonefly nymph. Sometime later I took a photo of a natural that had somehow managed to crawl inside my eye glasses. I had to figure that the guide had seen one of these little stoneflies and set about to imitate it. I have always considered it the perfect guide fly—easy to tie from readily available materials, durable and effective.

Of course, I went through a period of time where I tried to put my mark on the fly by “improving” it. I changed the abdomen from the rusty-orange colored sparkle yarn to red wire. The trout didn’t care much for that particular improvement, so I tried reddish-orange goose biot for the abdomen. It really looked cool and was more realistic than the sparkle yarn, but the trout ignored it, too. At one point I tried adding a gold bead for weight. The trout didn’t like that, either. I won’t go through the whole list.  But I finally realized that the fly was as good as it was going to get just the way it was.          

So, take it from me. This was a fly pattern that was impossible for me to complicate or improve in any meaningful way. I try to remember that when things start to get out of hand at the fly tying bench. I repeat the mantra, “simple and durable, simple and durable, simple and durable…..”

But I do always leave the door ever so slightly open for those more involved flights of fly tying fancy. I mean I don’t always tie flies just for the trout.




HOOK: Dry fly hook,  size #18.

THREAD: Yellow.

ABDOMEN: Rusty-orange sparkle yarn (one-ply only). 

WING: Deer hair.

THORAX: Peacock herl.