Re: Rich Osthoff
I do spend quite a bit of time fishing the backcountry with extensive time spent in Rocky Mountain National Park, Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Rawah Wilderness areas in CO and Wind River Range in WY. I'm familiar with Osthoff's patterns and he definitely knows more about backcountry fly fishing and backpacking than most. His patterns are ones that he has confidence in - I'm the same way with my own patterns. I did however find that he is definitely on to something with his rollover scud pattern. I've tied some of them up and they do indeed outperform the other scud patterns I've tried.
My own experiences in higher altitude backcountry fly fishing have yielded a few things that I'll share, but I also know that many other people have success with other approaches (there are no absolutes - especially in fly fishing).
- In high altitude tree lined lakes, if the fish are actively feeding, they are up out of the depths and on the littoral shelf, close to shore. They there because that is where the food is. The food primarily consists of ants and beetles and other terrestials which have been deposited there by anabatic winds (upslope winds) that are so common in the high country. This means ants, beetles, gnats and other dries will figure prominently in your plans to catch trout in those lakes.
- Lakes with scuds usually have a high density of them, and then the trout are not forced to forage for ants and other bugs that have blown into the water. In these situations, you'll might not see a rise form (or a fish!) all day, but they are there. You'll need a good scud pattern - Rich's rollover scud is as good as they come. Most scud patterns are tied to LOOK like scuds but not necessarily ACT like them. His pattern entices hits because of the way it fishes with a slow but active retrieve.
Did you waste your money on Osthoff's patterns? Not in my opinion.
His patterns have been well tested (by him).
Should you limit yourself to his favorites? Of course not. There is no shortage of great patterns out there.
Check out the late, great Gary LaFontaines book "Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes" - it's entertaining and educational.