Beauty is… Tying intricate flies, which match the various insects that are available to wild Deschutes River trout. Beauty is… Fooling a wild trout into taking your artificial fly pattern as if it were a natural insect. Beauty is… Understanding the complex underwater world of wild trout and making a connection to it with fly rod in hand.
There are four major groups of insects available to trout: Mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies and midges. These four food groups make up a Deschutes River Trout’s daily diet. There are many other aquatic insects available like crane flies and aquatic moths, but these are of lesser importance. All of the insects in these major groups also come in various sizes and shapes, and have different behaviors. This makes your efforts as an angler and fly tier even more challenging. As an example, the mayfly group is divided into four sub categories; swimmers, crawlers, clingers, and burrowers. Within each subgroup, there are distinct times of development that the insects go through. For example caddisflies have four distinctive stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. With stoneflies having just three: egg, larva and adult. Even this doesn't address other stages we can imitate during the insects life, such as egg laying and spent adults.
As you can see the challenge is there, especially if you also happen to be a fly tier with a streak of obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Getting a trout to take your artificial creation at one of these various stages of the insect’s life on a consistent basis is beautiful and magical. It’s a feeling of joy and accomplishment. It becomes a passion for many reasons, but one very important reason is that trout, wild trout at least, are genetically programmed for survival... They are not stupid.
Several years ago, I was tying some trout patterns at Maupin City Park when a gentleman walked up and sat down to watch me tie. We talked about fishing, bugs and the river. At one point he asked why I tied only two tails on a mayfly pattern, when most flies he had seen were tied with many fibers in the tail. I answered, “Because this is a baetis mayfly and baetis only have two tails.” He skeptically replied, “Do you think they can count?”
While trout can’t count, they are incredibly perceptive. Consequently, they are not easy to fool, and if you are fly tying junkie it matters to you. -At least it matters to me. Creating life-like bugs is a passion of mine. For me, it’s the beauty and mystery of the sport. It’s the essence of fly fishing for trout.