My dubbing boxes: three and counting, filled with the main blends I use to imitate the fly hatches of our Catskill rivers. There are dozens of little labeled baggies holding wisps of blends concocted for rare hatches and once angled streams, but these boxes house the mainstays.

I am a color guy and, if you have read a few posts on this blog, you know that matching fly color is important to me as a fly tyer. I learned the lesson the day I fished through my very first hatch: color matters! It is one of those oft debated topics among anglers, fishermen tending to be convinced by their experiences and influences for or against the importance of fly color and pattern versus presentation. My experiences have led me to the conclusion that all the facets of the fly, the line and leader and presentation make a difference in fishing success, thus I try to put my best foot forward in regard to all of these factors. They are all important, and their ranking as related to angling success varies constantly at the whims of Nature!

I know that matching color and translucency are important, and I know that the level of importance varies under a myriad of conditions of light, current, water clarity and temperature. I have flies in my boxes that are not perfect color matches of some of our primary hatches, and they are proven reliable patterns.

Yesterday I took to tying a few Blue Quills, the common and traditional name for flies to match the Paraleptophlebia adoptiva mayfly. The traditional Blue Quill is tied with a stripped peacock herl quill body that may vary in color based upon the herl used, often producing a grayish to brownish body with a darker stripe. The mayfly itself is brown, generally darker than the brown toned quills, but I have long tied my favorite little Blue Quill Parachute with biots from a wild turkey primary feather. That fly works! It has taken many trophy trout for me when Paraleps are on the water, and it isn’t brown.

After I tied half a dozen old faithfuls, I chose a dyed wild turkey primary to tie a few size 16 quills in a deep hatch matching brown color, covering all my bases. One of the two places I ever bought flies in the Catskills was the Roscoe shop owned by the late Dennis Skarka. Dennis tied his Blue Quill Parachutes with bleached peacock quills. His flies had a nice lighter gray body with the dark striped segmentation, and they were deadly. That’s the effect I have in mind when using the wild turkey biots and trailing edge fibers.

My spring fly boxes for the beginning of our dry fly season will have both colors of my biot parachutes, CDC winged duns featuring both biot and dubbed bodies, and a few hackled duns with peacock quill bodies, often in a poster style with an Antron post wing. This spring, there are some Translucence 100-Year Duns that will be joining them. I will have the fly side of the game well covered. Presentation comes with every cast and includes every step toward a casting position and every adjustment to leader and tippet made before a fly is tied on.

There are days when matching the color of the natural flies is paramount to success, and there are days when it isn’t. When you get right down to it, the importance of color might vary from one rising trout to another. Whether that is influenced by the light and water clarity or the fish’s mood no one can say. My goal is to be prepared to match colors to the greatest extent possible, as I think its pretty hard to go wrong with the right color fly.


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