Last Saturday was spent fishing the Red Feather area. Fishing was excellent and the catching wasn’t half bad either. As often happens, success came on one of my favorite trout flies, a peacock woolly bugger.
Not sure I’ve ever seen one in a shop, but the pattern is simple.
Hook: 3X long, 1X heavy
Thread: 6/0 dark olive or black
Tail: Dark melon green marabou (try to match the peacock)
Weight: lead wire wrapped front 1/3 hook shank, approximately same diameter as hook
Body: several strands of peacock herl
Reinforcement: wide wrap of thread (palmer or ribbing spacing) from head to tail and back
Hackle: Dark dun or natural black tied in tip first and palmer forward
I know many will say a black or olive woolly bugger will work just as well. Maybe, but I love peacock patterns when I fish mountain waters for trout, especially those lakes with a dark greenish hue to them. There’s something about peacock that seems to attract the attention of fish. I suspect it’s the iridescent quality, something that you often see in “insects” both aquatic and non-aquatic. Look at the back of a housefly or a beetle in sunlight. They have a similar sheen or iridescent quality about them. Consequently, many of my favorite “trout” patterns incorporate peacock herl; pheasant tail, prince nymph, Griffiths gnat, zug bug, renegade, AP peacock, halfback, brassy, head on midge patterns, head on caddis patterns, peacock woolly bugger . . . and even some of my pike patterns have peacock herl over wings.
But as much as I like peacock in my flies, I still believe how you fish them, aka presentation, is just, if not more important. This was clearly demonstrated Saturday.
I started out fishing midge patterns, but when a breeze put a chop on the water I switched my point fly out to a small peacock bugger. Working it various ways, I managed an occasional fish. It wasn’t until I cast out and took a drink of water that I “discovered” what the fish really wanted. The sinking fly was enough to elicit a strike. Turns out the best presentation was a long slow strip to lift the fly followed a very long pause allowing the fly to sink. Most strikes came on the drop.
A fellow angler was fishing from the shore and I noticed him taking a couple fish. His buddies asked, “What are you using.” “Small, olive woolly bugger,” he responded. Much the same as I was using. “Good for him,” I thought. However, over the course of the next hour he caught one more fish, and I caught, well let’s just say I caught his attention. He approached and asked what I was using.
I replied, “Same as you, a small woolly bugger.” Then I added, “But I’m fishing far slower than you. You’re making several casts to my one, and your retrieves are far faster than and mine. Plus, your cadence is consistent enough to set the tempo for a band.” He thanked me, and I noticed later that he’d slowed things down and that his catch rate had picked up.
Please note, when the lake went glassy, the bite fell off dramatically as the fish started rising. During those times I would have been wise to have switched back to midges.
Yep, I love peacock flies. But what I really love is figuring out the presentation that the fish want consistently. That day it was a larger pattern fished painfully slow when the wind was up. When the breezed died, midges in the surface film would have been a better choice, but by then the sun was low in the sky, and my energy levels had dropped also. So I called it a day.
The next time you’re on the water, consider your presentation before switching out flies or lures.