In the past I've fallen for the fly theories and fly hype. I've even perpetuated a few of my own over the years, but for the past several years I have come to a new conclusion, at least on most of the local Utah waters I fish. Here's my conclusion: Summer and fall fly fishing is easy! The fish in most Utah waters are plentiful and hungry. I have found that only on rare occassion are they selective to the point where you have to match a hatch to catch them. I'm talking summer and fall here. In early spring, you sometimes have to match a blue-winged olive hatch to get the best fishing, but summer and fall it's as if anything goes, other than the rare case of a hatch of some specific insect for a small period of time. I proved that again today. I took trout on three different hopper patterns, a cicada pattern and a mayfly pattern. Normally, this time of year I will throw on a hopper and just leave it on all day, but for some reason, I had the wild idea to try other hopper patterns as well as the cicada and small mayfly. I don't think it mattered what I had on. I think the cutthroat are looking to feed before the winter months and the browns are gaining fat and energy for the spawn.
I guess what I'm getting at is that we fly tiers sometimes think we have a talent for creating some special fly, when in reality, almost any fly would work if we get it over some hungry fish and cast it into waters that have too many stunted and hungry fish and it's summer or fall, when trout seem to be most aggressive.
A couple years ago, I talked to a fly shop guide and asked about a particular river I had never fished. He told me I had to go small and I would catch more fish using a nymph. He gave me the name of the small nymph that was "killer." I got to the river and stood in a hole just as he had explained. I used the small nymph and fished it as he explained. I actually caught two brown trout in about an hour of fishing. I soon tired of the nymphing and walked around the next bend in the river. As I looked upstream, I thought, this river doesn't look any different than any of the other rivers I have fished. It was late summer, so I tied on a hopper imitation. First cast into a cut bank and I was rewarded with a nice fish. Next cast a little further out into the riffle, another trout. I continued to cast the hopper into each seam, cut bank, pocket and run and either missed a trout or had a hook-up. It was a blast. I've done this every year on most of the waters I fish in the summer and fall and have always been rewarded with trout.
I'm not trying to brag of any prowess I have. I'm just trying to say that we sometimes get caught up in all the fly design and hype, when the trout could care less. If we get a good presentation, are sneaky enough, and fishing waters with hungry, plentiful trout, then fly pattern is not as critical as we want to believe. Maybe some waters around the country fly pattern is critical, but here in Utah it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal.