There comes a time in every fly fisher’s life when your morals are compromised. Sure, you can stay pure and fish that dry fly upstream all the while extolling the virtues of your fine English tweed, but every now and then that nonsense doesn’t work and it’s time to get dirty. It’s time to tie on one of those flies that you hide from your buddies. The ones you tie late at night after that fourth whiskey. The ones that catch fish. Bright colors, flash, pom-poms. Everything about these flies would lead you to believe that a trout would rent a U-Haul and move cross country to avoid it, yet somehow trout suck them down with reckless abandon.
The Mop Fly
This might take the cake from the Walt’s worm as the ugliest most fish catching fly out there. As its name implies, it is made from fragments of mops and bathroom rugs you’ve salvaged from the local Walmart and no-tell-motel. Almost any color will do. And it will earn you a lifetime’s worth of scoffs and sneers from the purist crowd.
The mop fly stepped into the spotlight in the competition circuit a few years back. Why, you ask? Well it might just be the dirtiest fly out there. Trout-crack.
It looks like a big old nasty grub, you know the ones you dug up and chased your sister around with when you were 10. Fish can’t seem to resist it. The pattern likely best imitates large crane fly larva that are often found along the streambank and get washed downstream during high water or big, fat green inchworms that are in the trees from late summer into fall.
The Squirmy Wormy Fly
They’re in your box right now. Maybe swiped some from another angler. Maybe you tied them yourself and won’t admit it. Whatever the case, much like the mop fly, it’s one of those flies you never want to use but trout can’t seem to resist.
Originally tied with some poor kid’s stolen Kush ball, the squirmy wormy fly is the brainchild of some Einstein of fly fishing. Barely more than a little piece of lord-knows-what-kind-of-rubberlike-plastic tied to a hook, there’s no doubting that this fly produces. Beauty in simplicity.
Modeled after the San Juan Worm which was first tied to imitate the red aquatic worms prevalent in the western tailwater that bears its name and now, thirty-something years later, is ubiquitous in every fly box east and west of the Mississippi. The Squirmy Wormy is Another pattern you can tie in a myriad of colors and are most useful in high, dirty water conditions or right after the stocking truck pulls away.
What exactly the Sucker Spawn is supposed to imitate is anyone’s guess, but it’s most commonly assumed to represent a big ol’ glob of eggs and/or flesh that somehow looks appealing to average Joe trout. It’s the go to fly for Great Lakes steelhead guys and is probably responsible for more landed chromers than all other flies combined. Trout out here on the east coast love them all winter long and especially in the early spring when our golden sucker fish are indeed spawning.
It can be one of the most under fished and underrated “hatches” of the year, happening around two to three weeks before those stuffy Hendrickson’s start showing their little pink heads. Trout have been fasting all winter and when those big slimy suckers start dropping eggs, even the biggest trout in the stream will line up downstream for a chance to snack on high protein egg globs.
All these flies have proven their worth in varying water types and, most importantly, even on wild fish not just those stocked rainbows in the local pond. So don’t be a hater, tie one on and hold tight.
Jay replied on Permalink
I'm curious about the mopfly the most , I know in the east guys love it but I wonder how it translates to the western trout waters
George C. replied on Permalink
dude I'm sure it will crush out west. those trout won't know what hit 'em.
Anonymous replied on Permalink
Not just trout but it's a great fly for carp
Daran replied on Permalink
I've only fished it on two days recently in Utah, caught some of my biggest browns. It will be interesting to see how it works when browns aren't spawning.
Pink Floyd replied on Permalink
The mop and GLO is a glo-bug variation and here you are talking about catching your biggest browns during spawning season on egg patterns. LAME. Throwing flies, ESPECIALLY egg patterns at spawners is bad form. You know you're stressing out already stressed fish right? You know those big browns your catching are older fish that can't handle as much abuse as the 12"ers on the Middle Provo? Utah anglers are the worst, and I live here. No wonder our neighbors to the north; Idaho and Montana, don't like seeing Utah plates parked along their rivers.
Daran replied on Permalink
Not that it probably matters to you, I avoid the redds and spawning fish and those areas during the fall spawning season. I guess I can see how my comment would make one assume I was targeting spawning fish.
Flip replied on Permalink
Jay, I would fish it in waters where there are large aquatic crane flies around. You may have to do some bug research to find it. Imitating giant crane flies is a good tactic that works out east, but I think the "glo" part of this fly has overshadowed what it really imitates.
Jim in Conroe replied on Permalink
I have caught some good sized trout, rainbows and browns, fishing the mop in ponds on the Western Slope at the High Lonesome Ranch just north of DeBeque, CO. They worked as well as anything else I fished there.
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DBC replied on Permalink
Might as well use bait and a spinning rod, you'll be able to cast further than 98% of most nymphers, won't have to stand on top of fish, and achieve the same sense of accomplishment!
No Slime Slinger replied on Permalink
In the modern age, accomplishment is in the mind of the rod holder. Standing in a pools edges, holding a bream pole (Tenkara), with a bobber and a mop frazzle, holds no attraction for a true fly fisherman. When I pour the scotch in the evening, I want to see the ghosts of Gordon and Wulff, and revere the tradition.
Pags replied on Permalink
So Slime Slinger and DBC,
I must infer by your comments that you both use naught but; bamboo fly rods, non machined aluminum reels without fancy drags, silk fly line and cat gut leaders and wet wade. For a "purist" eschew such anachronisms as graphite, modern light weight metals, synthetic fly lines and leaders, and those satanic breathable gorges waders. Times, materials and sports evolve.
Bret replied on Permalink
I love this article! When we go out I always bring some "experiments" that cause my friends to mock me. The 2 flies that have angered my buddies the most are still-water patterns based on Powerbait and and white bread. Several times fish hit my indicator when fishing a chironomid. I thought they were mistaking it for discarded Powerbait or bread people throw to the ducks. Turns out I was right! Lol!