12/22/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Midges


A. K. Best's Fly Patterns:
Continuing with Sir Hugo's questions,

Your RIGHT !! AK Best who is a fanatic for details in his book. A.K.’s Fly Box doesn’t
have extended body flies and his Patterns have LOTS MORE THAN 3 tails on his
mayfly adults !!!! ( footnote:  Checked my copy!! The book was written in ‘96 ) I’m
saving My BIG QUESTION for last, I don’t want to ruin Your day, like you “ruined”
mine by ACCURRATELY and CORRECTLY pointing out A.K. Best Patterns AREN’T
so “BEST”, He’s got more than 3 tails and no extended bodies!!  


I have Mr. Best's book you are referring to and all of his videos. He is a very good
writer, and from a writing skills standpoint, far better than I. He has some very nice
looking flies insofar as the neatness and perfection of the way he ties them. His
patterns are just copies of others that have been around a long time and came from
tyers that knew a lot about fly tying and nothing about what the naturals they were
imitating. Being a retired school teacher probably gave him a lot of spare time to fish
over the years. I enjoy what he writes about the technique and method end of fly
fishing much more than what he writes about tying flies.

I wouldn't criticize him for not having extended body mayflies. They are mostly
important on the large drakes. I will on many other issues. Most all of his mayfly
duns have vertically would hackle, Catskill style flies. The reason for the vertical
wound hackle, other than being easy to do, are the claims made that it floats higher
in the water and it will float in rough, fast water.
The problem with both of these
theories is number one,  neither mayfly emergers or duns float high in the
water, and number two,  none of them hatch in fast water.
In fact, it is rare for
an emerging mayfly dun to get caught up in fast water prior to departing the water.
They never hatch directly in the fast water, not even the clingers. Mr. Best's is a
highly skilled fly tyer but he copied old fly patterns that really don't imitate the
naturals all that well. If he was manufacturing automobiles instead of tying flies, he
would be guilty of copying a Ford T Model rather than a Ford Escape.

You hear talk all the time from the average trout angler regarding how well or poorly
their flies float in fast water.
That's because most of them concern themselves
with flies prior to learning anything about the mayflies themselves and how
they hatch.
This is the huge mistake most beginners make. They get into the flies
and not what the flies imitate. Many learn from local fly shop personnel and although
there are exceptions, the majority of the fly shop people are not familiar with how
mayflies hatch themselves. I'm using mayfly duns as an example but this is even
more true of other aquatic insects. They know absolutely nothing about caddisflies,
as a general rule. Again, this isn't true of all of them, but it is for the vast majority.

Mr. Best went to extreme detail in how he goes about getting the exact shade of
color of his flies to match the colors of the naturals. To shorten his long spill about
this, he summarizes it by saying that he goes to extensive effort to get the lighting
just right for taking images of the naturals and that he even blows images of them
up on the wall to a very large size to match the natural's exact color. Then he
proceeds to tie a mayfly dun, for example, that uses a clump of material for the tail
that is fifty times larger than the real tail of the mayfly he is imitating. The six legs of
the mayfly extend out the sides of the naturals and from front to back, are almost
the width (span wise) of the abdomen of the mayfly. His vertical hackle which
imitates the legs of the mayfly, makes it appear to the trout that the mayfly's legs
extend out in one area on each side of the dun's abdomen. In other words, Mr. Best
makes a big issue out of some things in matching the naturals and others he
completely ignores. Ignoring the configuration and overall shape of the natural is a
much bigger mistake than getting the shade of color (which can vary from stream to
streams some due to different water types) just right. His flies are tied to perfection
but his designs are copies of age old fly patterns that imitate the naturals poorly.
He's a good builder but his design and architectural abilities suck.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh