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Thread: Color or shape?

  1. #1

    Default Color or shape?

    Hi everyone, I'm new to fly fishing and tying. With so many variations on all fly patterns, is it more important for the shape to be right, or the color/colors to be right? Is it acceptable to use other materials and/or feathers when trying to duplicate the recipe for a particular pattern? I'm trout fishing the "Driftless" region of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Thanks for any feedback.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
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    4,752

    Default Re: Color or shape?

    Hi muskehntr. Welcome to the forum. I don't really fish your area, but I am in Minnesota also. I'm up on the Canadian end though. Back when I fished Trout all the time, I didn't find them to be as picky as most people would tend to make you think. Color and shape of the hatch is important but it does not mean that you need to be a perfect match. I have found in the past that in heavy hatches, going bigger than the hatch can sometimes get you more fish. There are a bunch of patterns that if tied in different sizes imitate a wide range of insects. Adams, Hare's ear nymph and a few other patterns will get you fish most of the time. Then there are the attractor type flies that work like well like a Stimulator.

    I learned to fly fish from my Dad who fished all over Colorado, where I grew up and fished about 8 flies around 95% of the time. I think most people think Trout are pickier and smarter than they really are. If you are near Duluth, go to the Great Lakes Fly Company and ask John Fehnel what works best down in your neck of the woods. Get the top 8 or 10 flies from him and learn to tie those first. And you can sustitute materials. I do it a lot.
    Last edited by Guest1; 01-01-2013 at 06:57 PM. Reason: spelling fix

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  4. #3
    Join Date
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    Manning, S. C. (formerly MD)
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    Default Re: Color or shape?

    is it more important for the shape to be right, or the color/colors to be right?
    Welcome to the forum! This is an age old question & one that creates great & sometimes heated debates no matter where you're fishing. I don't do much trout fishing now, but when I did, my experiences echoed what Dan has said. In fact, I've seen times when close in both size & color was all I needed to be successful, while on other days, nothing seemed to work.

    If you look at trout flies over the years, there have been many patterns that attempted extremely close representations, and there have been what is commonly called attractors, that don't necessarily imitate anything on the other end of the spectrum, and they all will catch fish at times. There are today patterns that even mimic crippled, or deformed insects, that will not follow the shape or color of the healthy naturals and they work too. Plus, there are trout flies now that actually look more like bass bugs than a representation of a delicate insect.

    As far as substituting materials, we all do it. Since you're just getting started, it's probably best to try & follow established pattern recipes as close as is possible, until you get the tying techniques down, but after that it's open season!
    Remember, no one likes to be behind the big truck, but that's better than being under it!

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  6. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Color or shape?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigjim5589 View Post
    Plus, there are trout flies now that actually look more like bass bugs than a representation of a delicate insect.

    Plus one to that one. Mice are the best fly a lot of times for big fish. Big Browns at night will hit a mouse. In some places it's the best fly for big Trout 24/7. They catch Bass pretty well too.

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Color or shape?

    Plus one to that one. Mice are the best fly a lot of times for big fish. Big Browns at night will hit a mouse. In some places it's the best fly for big Trout 24/7. They catch Bass pretty well too.
    Dan again, we agree! My point was that the patterns resemble bass flies with the rubber legs & such that are used, but you're example is true to the nature of the larger fish, that not all trout will be sipping tiny delicate flies. They're meat eaters and can be as gluttonous as any bass!

    Muskehntr, tie or buy accordingly!
    Remember, no one likes to be behind the big truck, but that's better than being under it!

  8. #6

    Default Re: Color or shape?

    Thanks for the replies. I will be tossing more questions out there as I go. Much appreciated, Muskehntr.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Color or shape?

    The most important features of a fly in order of importance are generally thought to be

    1. Size

    2. Shape

    3. Color

    Behavior is also part of presentation but is controlled by the fisher. Incorrect behavior would be drag when a drag free presentation is needed.

    Under color is shading or color saturation. If the shading is correct, the color does not have to be as correct. For example a small Adams will work for a blue winged olive hatch. A larger Adams will also work for a Hendrickson hatch. That is because Adams grey is about the same color saturation or shade as the BWO olive and the Hendrickson yellowish tan, neither of which happens to be grey.

    For the Driftless the must have fly is a #14 pink squirrel.
    Regards,

    Silver



    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  11. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Color or shape?

    Quote Originally Posted by silver creek View Post
    The most important features of a fly in order of importance are generally thought to be

    1. Size

    2. Shape

    3. Color

    Behavior is also part of presentation but is controlled by the fisher. Incorrect behavior would be drag when a drag free presentation is needed.

    Under color is shading or color saturation. If the shading is correct, the color does not have to be as correct. For example a small Adams will work for a blue winged olive hatch. A larger Adams will also work for a Hendrickson hatch. That is because Adams grey is about the same color saturation or shade as the BWO olive and the Hendrickson tannish yellow, neither of which happens to be grey.

    For the Driftless the must have fly is a #14 pink squirrel.
    I agree with Silver's order of importance.

    And for answer your other question: yes, you are allowed to interchange materials, substitute, remove, and change recipes as your materials dictate. In fact, you are encouraged to! (by me at least) Have fun with it!

  12. #9

    Default Re: Color or shape?

    Absolutely substitute but follow the fly pattern as closely as possible initially.

    There are a few materials like polar bear hair, jungle c*ck eyes, peacock herl, and cdc, etc that have special properties but most flies can be tied with substitutes.
    Regards,

    Silver



    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

  13. #10

    Default Re: Color or shape?

    Substituting materials can be fun and effective. One of my favorite dries for trout in some of the Front Range creeks is a BWO sparkle dun. Though generally a 16 or 18 dubbed in light or dark olive will work just fine, there are a few spots where they are very picky and won't take it till it's a size 18, olive biot body, sparse tail and wing. I've found that level of pickiness rare.
    - William

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