I typically fish with two flies and while some put the smaller pattern in front of the heavier nymph, I can’t break the habit of leaving it trailing. These also fish well behind a dry and are often a first choice as a dropper. This category consists of small, un-weighted nymphs and midges. Here’s the breakdown:
168 Man Roster- These are the trailing flies I’ll start the season with
Black Beauty 16-20
Disco Duck 16-20
Brassie 16 & 18
Zebra Midge 16-20
Two Tone Zebra Midge 16-20
English Pheasant Tail 20 & 22
Miracle Nymph 16-20
Top Secret Midge 16-20
Spring Creek Midge 16 & 18
Midge Larva 20 & 22
Peacock Midge 16-20
Disco Midge 16-20
Starters - These are either blue chip prospects or top producers from last year
The Disco Duck is by far my best producing fly, bar none. This was one of my first original patterns, but it went a season in the box before I gave it a try. When I did, it produced from the moment it hit the water. It fishes well behind a weighted nymph or dry fly catching fish throughout the water column. As mentioned each season I redefine my box strategy. One area I started to refine last year and continue to work on now is eliminating unnecessary mulitples. So instead of carrying three different colors and four different sizes of the same pattern, I settled into one color and three sizes (really could be two 16 & 20). This fly takes a lot of abuse and is relatively delicate. So I swapped out the mallard flank tail for Coq de Leon and instead of extra small wire I used the small size in the hopes to increase its durability.
The Black Beauty replaced two patterns in my box this year. The first is my Finicky and the second a Mercury Black Beauty. It may be blasphemy, but these patterns are "close enough" to narrow down to one. This year I’m putting a premium on shape and size rather than the pattern (I’ll be hypocritical in a moment when I tell you I carry two types of zebra midge). I don't mind carrying a larger variety of patterns as long as the profile is unique. I’ll typically change presentation before swapping out a fly and when I do it may be just to decrease its size. Again I narrowed my Black Beauty selection down to three sizes; 16-20. This is one of my favorite trailing patterns all year long.
It was a toss-up between the Two Tone Zebra Midge and the traditional Zebra Midge(there's the hypocrisy) and since they both battled for top 3 honors I couldn’t pick one over the other. So toss out all the logic I gave for the Black Beauty argument. I remain a work in progress and maybe one day I’ll be happy to report I decided on just one Zebra Midge though I don’t think I’m in danger of becoming a fly minimalist. I typically start with a Zebra Midge and if doesn’t produce in this case I’ll make the switch in pattern and decrease size. I think fish see more of the traditional pattern so the two tones provide just enough of a difference to entice.
Free Agents– All good patterns, but they didn't make the cut
So there’s a look inside my trailing pattern fly box. Next month I’ll highlight my nymph box where you may be surprised at some of the classic patterns getting the snub.