A couple of days ago Pam and I drove to Annapolis for the annual ritual of getting my new fishing license at Angler's Sports Shop. I dislike being without a valid license at the start of the new year ever since a New Year's Day some years ago when the temperature was in the 70's, and most of us fishermen yearned to take advantage of the weather by wetting a line. This was before you could get a license on-line, so there wasn't any way I could legally fish since I hadn't taken action beforehand. I still prefer getting the license at a tackle store rather than using the internet, and afterwards we traditionally drive to Mike's Crab House in Riva for fried oysters.
Taking an inventory of my flies, I decided there were five types I needed to tie in preparation for next season, about a half dozen of each type.
1. Marabou bead-head- Consisting of only a marabou wing and a bead on a hook, it's about as simple as a fly can be. Nevertheless, it is effective for trout and pan fish. Marabou are fluffy feathers whose name comes from the marabou stork. Since those storks are now a protected species, fly-tying marabou generally comes from turkeys and chickens. The fluffy feathers present a life-like movement like a small baitfish as the fly travels through water. Flies that imitate other fish are called "streamers".
2. Crystal bugger- This fly is a variation of the popular wooly bugger which in turn came from the wooly worm which was popular when I first began fly fishing 40 years ago but is seldom mentioned these days. The basic design for these flies may go back centuries. I learned the crystal bugger as well as the marabou bead-head from books by Joe Bruce, a Maryland fishing legend. The marabou tail of the crystal bugger dominates the picture below:
3. Black and bluegill- Another simple fly which I learned about from a magazine article. As the name implies, it was designed by a tier who lives in North Carolina to catch bluegills, but it also is effective on smallmouth bass, and some use it for trout. What makes a fish bite this fly is a mystery to us humans because it doesn't seem to look like anything a fish would eat. We call flies like this "attractors".
4. Bend-back flies- Unlike the first three, I haven't yet used this style steamer, but I was inspired to try it because the design allows it to go through heavy aquatic vegetation without getting hung up. There are places I've been fishing lately that this feature would be beneficial.
5. Soft hackle wet flies- A few years ago, I read article about using the feathers of starlings to tie these. I tried some with success and would like to get back to using them on trout streams like the Gunpowder River. Wet flies imitate a subsurface stage of aquatic insects.