Pocono Patterns Chapter 7: The Evolutionary Process of Fly Development - Current Patterns
The process of fly development and evolution continues to be very active today in the Poconos, following the groundwork laid by people like Brobst and Leisenring. Present day Pocono anglers continue to search for that perfect pattern that will connect wary trout to the end of their lines. I’d like to conclude this article with a few stories that drive this point home.
Don Baylor has taken his work on insect life in the Pocono waters and used it to create a variety of Pocono specific patterns. His Slate Drake imitations are commercially available. His book, "Pocono Hatches," is a must read for anyone planning on fishing the Poconos, and his DVD set, "Entymology for the Fly Fisherman" is a must see not only for Pocono anglers but for anyone with an interest in fly fishing, no matter what waters you call home.
Todd Burns, Vice President of the Brodhead chapter of Trout Unlimited, has developed a very effective nymph pattern that he derived from a basic pheasant tail nymph. As Todd tells the story, his fly was developed piece by piece, one element at a time. Observing the naturals he found in the stream bed led to the application of a split tail, followed by the use of a biot body which was more durable than pheasant tail fibers yet retained the ridged segmentation to represent gills. Trial and error fishing with variations of color led him to settle on the use of a rust colored biot, which was he found to be most effective on the Pocono streams he frequents. The iridescence of a peacock herl body was preserved, but Todd later opted for a 1-2 wrap of grizzly hackle in the middle of his thorax to represent legs on his nymph. The end result is a nymph that may in fact outfish its pheasant tail predecessor on the Pocono streams for which it was created.
Ben Turpin provided a similar story behind the development of his GPS stonefly nymph. It began with a difficult day on the stream amidst a prolific hatch of blue winged olives. Though the hatch was plentiful, the strikes were not, prompting Ben to put down his rod and start flipping rocks to see if there was some secret he may have been missing. Close observation of the critters crawling on the undersurface revealed a bicolored schema: all the nymphs had dark backs and light underbellies. After this trip, Ben and a fellow Pocono angler developed a fly called the confusion, which had a hare’s ear body and thorax over which was tied a strip of pheasant tail fibers to create the bi-colored effect. This fly met withsuccess on subsequent trips, which led Ben to expand the pattern to the GPS mayfly. The pattern was further extended to a stonefly version of the nymph, Ben’s GPS stonefly.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
As I said at the start of the Pocono Patterns articles, this project has been a fascinating journey that has revealed a depth of angling history in the Pocono region that I never fully appreciated. It has been inspiring to uncover the deep roots that lead back to the very beginnings of fly fishing itself, and it is a project I will continue to pursue. I look forward to continuing my research into Pocono patterns, and I look forward to following the development of future fly patterns as time goes on. With the advent of new materials and ideas and the strong shoulders of history behind it, I can’t wait to see what flies anglers in the Poconos will create next.