Expand Your Horizons

News & Tips: Expand Your Horizons

Like most fly anglers who tie their own flies, I have favorite patterns. These are tried and true classics, like soft-hackled wet flies, PT nymphs, parachute patterns and wooly buggers, that are relatively easy to tie and seemingly irresistible to the fish.

ExpandYourHorizonsSG blog
The author plans to use the Spruce Fly streamer a little more this season to help expand his fly horizons.

These are the flies I have faith in; the go-to patterns I reach for first if no obvious hatch is coming off. Day in and day out, they work.

The problem with having a box full of these, as I see it, is that we eventually get set in our ways. Sometimes this stubborn loyalty to old faithfuls limits success and, perhaps just as importantly, stops us from seeing the genius, beauty and versatility of other patterns — which is part of the wonderful aesthetic of this great pastime.

In other words, we forget that the old adage "variety is the spice of life" also applies to our angling efforts.

That's why every year I peruse through my fly tying books and pick a new pattern or two to add to my fly boxes. Then, after stocking up, I tell myself that I'm going to fish these patterns enough to see what all the fuss is about.

It's a great exercise that sometimes leads to new discoveries and favorites. For instance, long ago this way of thinking helped me discover that Gartside's soft-hackled streamers were incredibly easy to cast and deadly on smallmouth bass.

You don't get a winner every time, but you do get enough to keep you curious about the patterns you've never fished.

One pattern I'll use a little more this season is the Spruce Fly streamer. I've always enjoyed tying them but, between you and me, I've never really given them a lot of time in the water. That's partly because wooly buggers, Clousers, Mickey Finns and muddler minnows work so well.

Even so, I'd like to expand my horizons this year to add this streamer to my repertoire. So I'll tie a few and give them a fair shake this spring on some of the trout waters I frequent.

This effort might be for naught. Maybe the Spruce Fly isn't going to thrill trout around here enough to warrant tying more than a few. Then again, maybe it will be just the ticket to catch that 20-inch brown. You never know till you try.