It's been a little while since I caught a fish on a dry fly, so I tied on a big, juicy stimulator. That fly was the ticket, as the trout kept hitting it with a vengeance. I landed quite a few rainbow and brown trout, and had a blast doing so. There is nothing quite like a fish exploding from the depths to smash a dry fly.
Stimulator fishing can sometimes be overlooked when we focus on "matching the hatch". Don't be afraid to tie on a big fly for some exciting fishing! Stimulators, or "Attractor" patterns covers a wide variety of flies. The Royal Wulff is a famous pattern that has attracted fish for years. Some argue that it looks like a caddis, and others say that the tail on the fly can fool a fish into thinking it is a mayfly. I don't know the answer, but I've caught quite a few fish over the years on this pattern. Other stimulator patterns are big, colorful flies. The fly I used last weekend was a size 10, with an orange body and elk hair. Your local fly shop will have numerous patterns, so buy a handful, and test them out!
Some tips I've learned over the years:
- A stimulator will often cause a fish to rise that is not currently feeding on the surface. If your smaller dry or nymphing set up is not working, try a big stimulator.
- As with any fly, fishing a stimulator with a dead drift is often the best way to encourage a strike. However, don't hestitate to "skate" the fly across the water, or give it a twitch. Trout sometimes think that a stimulator is a grasshopper, and they love to chase a hopper before it gets away.
- Trout will often strike a stimulator pattern fished under overhanging branches, or right along a grassy shoreline.
- A large stimulator pattern makes a great dry fly in the dry/dropper combo. I've found that tying a small black zebra midge or ABU on about 2 feet of tippet will pick up plenty of fish. Tie the dropper to the hook bend of the stimulator.
- Keep the stimulator dry! Recently I've been using Frog's Fanny dry fly floatant. It is applied with a brush, which seemed odd at first, but I've grown to really like it. When I start, I put some Fish Pimp floatant on the stimulator, then use the Frog's Fanny to keep the fly dry.
- Go big! Even if you don't see any large flies on the water, a large trout often likes to eat a big meal. I've caught trout on a big Royal Wulff in the middle of winter.