Fly Fishing: Adapting To The Conditions – Transylvania County, NC


Last updated 7/15/2019 at 4:49pm

Kevin Howell

I have been very fortunate in my life to literally travel and fish the world. In all of my travels there is one common denominator. Regardless of how prepared I am when I leave the house, something will go astray and Murphy's Law of Fly Fishing will always come into play.

Murphy's Law of Fly Fishing states that regardless of how many flies you leave home with, the one that is working the best is the one that you'll have the fewest of.

Over my years of travel, I have devised several tricks for making flies closer to the ones that are working, or, at least, turn them into some Frankenstein mutant that the fish will eat.

After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

Here are some of my best and most commonly used fly or lure modifications.

When fish are eating cripples or flies that are riding low in the water column and if all you have are traditional Catskill patterns, you can still make it work.

To achieve the cripple effect, take your nippers or scissors and clip the bottom half of the hackle off of the fly. Clipping the bottom hackle off of a Catskill-style pattern can quickly turn it into a fly that looks crippled and rides similar to a parachute, or comparadun, in the water.

If you are having trouble seeing small dries on the water, a bright colored Sharpie (pink, fluorescent green, etc.) can be used to color the wings, or parachute, so that you can see it better.

Beetles and foam flies that are hard to locate on the water can be made more visible by taking your scissors or nippers and clipping off a small piece of a Palsa adhesive indicator and then placing the small piece of indicator on the back of the fly.

Sometimes you will find the need to darken up a fly or part of a fly, especially flies with gold colored beads.

I always carry a set of indelible marking pens (sharpies), so that I can quickly change the color of any fly in my box.

The best colors to carry are black, brown and umber.

Often, just that slight color change from bright gold to a more natural color is all you need to get those picky fish fired up and feeding.

Occasionally, you will need to turn unweighted or lightly weighted streamers into heavier weighted flies.

This can be accomplished by carrying a small assortment of cone heads or metallic beads, either in brass or tungsten, in your vest.

Slide your tippet through the cone and then use a small toothpick or stick to peg the cone in place at the eye of the fly.

Not fishing enough weight, or deep enough in the water column, is one of the most common mistakes anglers make.

It often takes two to three times the amount of weight you think it should take to make a fly reach the depth that the fish are holding at.

Oftentimes, finicky fish can be persuaded to feed by the movement of rubber legs.

To bring life attracting movement to a fly, I carry a small selection of rubber legs with me on the stream and a small sewing needle. You can poke the needle half way through the fly, insert a pair of legs, and pull them through the body of a fly to give it extra life in the water.

So, next time you are out on the water and need to find that magic lure in your box, follow one of these Murphy's Law hacks. Just go ahead, pick the fly that you only have one of in your box, use it and catch as many fish as you can.

Then, when that nasty old rhododendron ends up taking your fly you can start hacking and mutilating your other flies to find the one the fish will eat.

Remember trout like "buggy," and often your flies fish better when they have a little wear and tear on them.


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