Blue FliesI watched Sylvester Nemes tie his beautiful soft hackle flies at the Bozeman Angler one spring. I'm a real fan of Syl's flies. They're all so beautifully proportioned with carefully chosen color schemes and clean, sharp, accurate wraps. It's impossible not to smile when you see the real thing up close.
Subtle color differences are extremely important to Syl. What look like slight body color and hackle variations on the same pattern to me represent different flies with different names to Syl.
I visited Syl at his house once. A mutual friend took me over to visit. I wanted to hit Syl up for a chance to photograph his flies. That part of the visit never quite worked out. But it was a wonderful day just the same. We spent the afternoon opening fly boxes and talking about flies. His fly collection was astounding. He had thousands of flies tucked neatly away in dozens of labeled boxes. Each fly had a name, penned onto a slip of paper for each bin in the box, all with names like Pemberton, Watchet, Green Tail, Yellow Spider, etc.
My approach to wet flies isn't so disciplined. I don't think about small wet flies by name so much as by color and shape category. And I don't really distinguish between wet flies and small nymphs either, for that matter. I tend to think more in terms of color schemes layered onto Hare's Ears, Pheasant Tails, Serendipities, Rock Worms and "Soft Hackles." My soft hackle patterns usually have a bead, sometimes behind the hackle and sometimes in front, married to a few basic body types and that's about it.
And I don't have any organized or preconceived way of associating different water conditions with different flies. I'm more of an experimentalist. I change flies a lot, at least until something starts to work, and then I run with it for a while. If gray and yellow worked well the last time, that's what I'll start with the next time. One odd color that consistently seems to work well for me is blue, regardless the wet fly type.
I've never yet seen a blue-colored insect, other than a Damsel Fly. But blue sure does seem to work. Why I can't say. Perhaps it has something to do with the narrower Wave Length of light at the blue end of the spectrum--allowing blue light to penetrate deeper into the watery depths. And perhaps not. Bass fishermen and West Coast Steelheaders have been fishing with blue and purple flies for years. So regardless the explanation, maybe it shouldn't be such a surprise blue is a good trout color too.
Here are a few of my favorite blues. The only two I actually have names for: the Three Dollar Blues and the Blue Doo: