Winter is in full swing here in New England, and trout fishing isn’t really feasible for the time being. This gives me time to check and clean out my gear, wash the waders if need be and start filling up for 2018. Opening my main working box, I noticed many blank spaces and try to recall which patterns used to call these vacancies their home, they obviously worked well if they are no longer present. This gets me thinking about which flies from our product line killed it for me in 2017.
10.) TFP Party on top Caddis; I can recall a handful of times this fly was basically a saving grace for me when caddisfly fishing. There are a lot of hi-rider caddis flies on the market these days and sometimes, you don’t want/need that. Especially in the meaty part of the hatch, risers are looking for an easy meal, not something they have to expend energy for. Point and case, this fly.
9.) Grumpy Frumpy Yellow/Red; When summer rolled around I took advantage of exploring some back-country water for the jewel of the mountain in the east, the Brook Trout. What better place to do so than New England too! We all know brookies are very opportunistic eaters. Put a fly in front of them and they’ll more than likely destroy it. Fishing high buoyancy foam flies to these guys is always good fun… cast, cast, plop! This fly was absolutely amazing this year and probably will be until the end of time. What’s not to like? Weird name, rubber legs, super buggy looking and imitates so many terrestrial insects. A brookies delight!
8.) Tactical Barbless Tung Belly Worm Red; When doesn’t a worm work? Seriously though, I don’t care if you’re one of those guys who thinks “I’m not fishing a worm pattern, it’s like bait”. No, it isn’t, worm exist in all watersheds worldwide. Take the dive and fish a worm!
7.) Holy Grail H.E.; The seemingly timeless Charles Jardine is behind the origins of this fly and when you have a name like that behind it, look out. This buggy caddis representation is an absolute killer in freestone streams the word over. It’s constantly on the forefront of “must haves” in the competition circuit and with good cause too, it’s an amazing bug. Personally, this fly accounted for several fantastic this this past year and will continue to do so for a long time.
6.) TFP Balanced Squirrel Black; A lot of angler’s associate leech patterns with lakes and ponds, fair enough but, this is a fantastic river fly and even more so at night. I read somewhere that under the cover of night, the color that sticks out most underwater is black. I think that was George Harvey, well George knew what he was talking about when it came to trout fishing. Killer night fly fished on a heavy tippet (3x) and jigged through dead falls and big pocket water. Produces the goods!
5.) Mylar Prince Black; A more modern take on the Prince nymph we all know. This fly is dressed on a grub hook with a pearl tinsel body over wrapped with red wire. It gushes “attractability” I just made that word up. In all seriousness, this fly fishes incredibly well. We offer this in four different color combos but, the black is my favorite simply because I’ve caught the most fish on this variant. There’s something about the colors going on here that just looks too good.
4.) SR Spanish Bullet Olive; This little guy was responsible for one of my biggest browns last season, in early April I came across a pod of fish carefully sipping off the top on the West Branch of the Delaware and my obvious reaction was… emerger more so on the adult side. After numerous rejections I finally figured out that these fish were on emerging nymphs. A size 16 flipped upstream covering a rise did the trick, every time. 5 very nice fish and one pushing 20”. Needless to say this fly has a permanent home in my main working box.
3.) Partridge & Orange; No matter where I find myself fishing whether it be to risers tight up against a bank, swinging through a heavy riffle or on a dropper above a couple of nymphs… I have a feeling this fly will always be in my top three. It’s that versatile. I can remember fishing the fly exclusively about two years ago and loving every second of it. There’s a reason these why soft hackles exist, they work.
2.) Squirminator H/H Jig; Every time I see this fly in my box, I laugh. This pattern has been called many things but, the best I’ve heard is “tip saver” by a good friend and guide out West. If you’re ever struggling and find yourself with this fly in your box… tie it on and let the madness ensue. It’s that good.
1.) Heisenberg Baby Bow; I’m not a streamer junkie, by no stretch of the imagination do I prefer fishing streamers over nymphs and wet flies but, this pattern is phenomenal. Is in the glow-in-the-dark articulation beads? The method in which the body is tied to let it underbody dubbing glimmer through the marabou and schlappen? It’s probably a combination of everything. Simply put, this fly is extremely well designed. I enjoy fishing this with a 6wt, upstream on a jerk retrieve on straight 8lb fluoro. To be honest though, this pattern, no matter how you fish it seems to out-do itself every time it gets the chance to. At least this year it did for my colleagues and me.