Fly-fishing’s buying patterns: Some flies catch fish, some flies catch fishermen, some do both

I’ll stop short of calling it a New Year’s resolution, because I didn’t make the decision until just recently. But after taking inventory of our flies – dries, wets, nymphs and streamers – I’ve decided we’re not buying any this year.
 
I realize that vow could go right out the window when we visit some of the more technical waters like the West Branch of the Delaware River, where you’d better have the right pattern in the right size and the right color to avoid the kind of frustration that has you beating your head against a rock. But seriously, unless that kind of situation arises, we’re incredibly well stocked for the upcoming season – which, if the weather holds, could come ahead of the April 1 New York trout kickoff, since there are a few waters around that offer fishing all year if conditions permit.
 
I’m not sure how we got to this point, but I think I have an idea. Those well-stocked bins at various fly fishing shops we’ve visited over the years have patterns that catch fish but also catch fishermen, including myself. So I can blame some of this on the Hungry Trout Fly Shop along my former home water (the West Branch of the Ausable River); Harry Murray’s Fly Shop in Virginia; Kelly Galloup’s Slide Inn, where his innovative streamer patterns always grab my attention; Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, Mont.; the Slate Run Tackle Shop in Pennsylvania’s mountains, and a few others.
 
Too, Paula and I spend enough time at the fly-tying vice to stockpile several patterns. While she typically tackles the dry flies, I enjoy working with foam to create a variety of terrestrial patterns – grasshoppers, beetles and ants – I enjoy fishing in the summer. And nymphs are easy to tie and tailor-made for one of my favorite methods, fishing a short, tight line with a 10-foot, 4-Weight St. Croix Bank Robber – designed by Galloup who, apparently, is able to prompt me to pry open my wallet for both his flies and fly rods.
 
But, admittedly, it’s a spending problem at these shops more than a product of our prolific fly-tying. I’m thankful there isn’t a home shopping network for flies and fly fishing. Road-tripping to various fishing destinations has done enough to create this situation.
 
And it’s not limited to flies. We seem to have a weakness for fly boxes as well. Most are full, but I even located an empty Montana Fly Company box the other night, tucked away in a stack of books at our tying table. Those artsy boxes – you know, the painted ones depicting various species of trout – are irresistible. We have several of those, as well as a pair of Wheatley fly boxes I don’t even recall buying (okay, maybe one of them), others by Scientific Anglers, Plano, Orvis, Gary Lafontaine and more.
 
So I’ve spent a few evenings this week taking a serious look of what we have. And we have plenty. Early season Hendricksons? Check. Cahills? Sulphurs? BWOs? March Browns? Check, check, check, check.
 
There are, as I noted earlier, plenty of terrestrials. Galloup streamers. The time-tested Woolly Buggers in various colors. Nymphs. Midges. Attractor patterns. We have it all heading into the season, it seems. No need to buy anything, unless we go to one of those waters where the trout are finicky. That’s rare; we like wild brook trout in the mountains, and those feisty and colorful fish typically reside in waters where, if something that looks like food comes floating by, there’s not much time or desire to size it up for its palatability.
 
So we’re set, and I just took another step by placing our annual leader and tippet order, replacing older stuff that has a certain shelf – and vest – life. 
 
There’s no need to buy any flies this year.
 
But we are heading into northern Alaska in August, and a trout bum buddy said the grayling there couldn’t resist an Adams. We might need to buy or tie a few in various sizes, including some Parachute Adams patterns in 12 and 14.
 
And we are running low on Lafontaine’s Emergent Sparkle Pupa in green and brown. We have to have those in our boxes.
 
And, oh yes, a few more Morrish Mouse patterns for big grayling.
 
And Tricos…..too small for us to tie and it’s a great late summer hatch on the Ausable. We’ll need to swing by the Hungry Trout for those.
 
And….I think you see where we’re headed here.

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