Searching and Attractor Flies for Wisconsin Spring Creeks
I don't know that there is a technical definition to differentiate between attractor and
searching flies. I would define searching flies as flies that
imitate an insect or stream organism that is consistently
available to trout. For example, an Adams is used to imitate a
general upwing mayfly and an Elk Hair Caddis is used to imitate
downwinged caddis. Both of these flies represent an insect type
that is consistently available to trout and they may be moved to
strike these flies when the insect in not hatching or is hatching
in limited numbers. I would also add flies that imitate
crustaceans like scuds and sowbugs which are always available to
trout in the drift of southwestern spring creeks. Many might
consider all nymphs to be searching patterns seeing the are
always available. Terrestrials are one of my most used searching
patterns. Casting to likely looking holding areas will often draw
strikes when fish are not otherwise rising.
Attractors are flies which may
have a resemblance to an insect type but generally have unnatural
coloration. I can't explain why a trout may strike a Royal
Coachman because it's coloration doesn't resemble any streamborn
insect but they do catch fish. These flies are often effective to
draw surface strikes when nothing is hatching, during sparse
hatches when fish are not selective, and at times, during heavy
hatches when they simply stand out from the natural and grab a
- Adams -
A pattern developed in Michigan used to imitate a variety
of mayflies. Useful during many hatches and during
non-hatch periods. They can be tied in either the
traditional style, parachute, in a hair-wing. One of the
world's most used flies.
- Elk Hair
Caddis - Used to imitate caddis hatches but is
also effective during non-hatch periods because the
caddis silhouette is familiar to trout.
- Used to imitate stoneflies but also makes an
adequate caddis, cricket, or grasshopper imitation. I've
had good luck with them on heavy water, particularly
Gnat - Used to imitate midges though it is also
useful to mimic small beetles. Often a good prospecting
fly when fish are rising intermittently.
- Scuds -
A fly you can't be without on spring creeks across the
U.S. These crustaceans are abundant in the fertile spring
creeks of southwest Wisconsin. Tie in sizes from #12-20
and in a variety of colors from tans to olives.
Buggers - Are used to imitate everything from
nymphs to leeches to crayfish. Always a good fly to
search large amounts of water or deep pool.
- Pass Lake -
A Wisconsin original with a black chenille body and a
white calf tail wing making in visible though it floats
low in the water, which is likely the key to this fly.
They can be tied or fished to be wet or dry or even in a
streamer pattern. Try fishing it dead drift as a dry then
at the end of the drift swing it in the wet fly style
into likely holding areas.
- Zug Bug -
This peacock herl nymph doesn't really look like many
naturals but fish seem to have a real affinity for it.
Useful in all types of water but particularly in the
areas where a riffle dumps into a pool.
- Trudes -
Have a downwing like caddis or stoneflies but the
colorations are generally gaudy. The white calf tail wing
makes it highly visible.
- Wulffs -
A classic upwing pattern for heavy waters. A good
searching pattern before or after a large mayfly hatch.
©Jason Freund, 1998 for Bob
Blumreich and Silver Doctor Fly Fishing