Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stimulator Time!

Last weekend I wandered up the Poudre Canyon with a fly rod in my hand, and found that the water level of the river have dropped nicely.  The water is clear, and most of the river is wadeable.

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.


  1. Good to hear the that water quality and level on the Poudre is looking better. This before all the rain this week so might be a little different now. Thanks for all the tips on using a Stimulator. I don't fish it often only because I don't do a lot of stream fishing anymore, but, I do know of its reputation.

    1. Thanks sir! I've always liked tossing a big dry fly around when the fishing is slow.

  2. I love tying and I love fishing a stimulator. There is nothing quite like it when a fish attacks it. How's the Poudre fishing these days?