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.