Occationally an angler will approach me while fishing to ask some advice on what the fish are eating. I'm more than happy to pass on info to others if they ask. Besides telling them some patterns that are hitting I will also go through their fly box with them and show them my boxes. Almost always, as soon as someone opens up their box I instantly see why they may be having a tough time.
Their fly box has a number of flies but it lacks a variety of patterns. I don't mean variety between species of bugs, I'm talking about having a variety of patterns within a certain group of bugs. For example; A lot of what I see in anglers boxes are three caddis of one pattern, then three mayfly of one pattern and then three stonefly of one pattern and so on and so on... Having at least a small collection of patterns within one species will always give you a much higher chance of catching fish. I have had many fishing days when I may have changed through four or five different caddis patterns before I found the one that is driving them crazy. It even happened this past weekend on the Firehole. The Western Sedge Caddis is hatching in abundance right now and there are so many flying you would think you could put on any caddis to cast to the risers. Out of five different Sedge patterns I tried on Saturday the fish only ate two of them. The other three patterns never were looked at by even one fish. When the PMD's began to hatch it was the same changing of a few patterns before I found "the one". If I didn't have some variety in my fly box I would have hooked into a lot less fish.
There sometimes is one perticular thing that an angler will bring up when I advise them to buy a few more patterns the next time they are in a fly shop. "The cost of Flies" is usually the reason I'm given for only having a few flies to fish. Getting started in fly fishing can get expensive if you purchase some of the higher end rods and reels but the flies themselves are really pretty cheap. Compair the cost of a good Rapala for spin fishing to the cost of a standard fly. An average Rapala will cost you about $8.00, you can purchase three flies for the same price. It won't happen overnight but after two or three weekends you can fill a page in your fly box.
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