Another Missouri River trout succumbs to the pink fly. Pink rules in the winter and spring. Some throw it all year and find that they need nothing else. When we use the term “pink” this time of year, we use it very generally. “Pink” could refer to a giant pink tungsten scud pattern, or a tiny, slim pink Lightning Bug. Also, “pink” can refer to a wide variety of colors, from peach to light orange to fuchsia.
This is a screen grab from a recent video shoot with Headhunters zen-guide Jared Edens. While shooting, I noticed that Jared – as well as Nick Stipech and Ben McNinch – were all throwing pink flies. Not unusual in Feburary. The common denominator is that they were all throwing “home brew” variations of patterns we sell in the shop.
If you audit these guides fly boxes, you’ll notice a wide variety of pink alternatives. The same fly might be tied with gray, fire or shell pink thread. You’ll see a Rainbow Czech tied with gold, silver, red and pink bead heads, as well as different colored wire ribs and flashbacks.
Now, if you’re not a fly tier, you probably don’t want to hear about it. And you don’t need to worry. All of the spring “pink” stuff we seek works, and works great. But if you are a tier, we highly recommend that you play around with your springtime nymph patterns.
Our guides find that in certain conditions and/or spots, changing things up a bit can really make a difference. The difference usually isn’t between catching fish or not, it’s about catching fish or catching a ton of fish. This makes sense on a river that receives plenty of pressure and where nymphing often revolves around a “hot” pattern.
Very bright colors help to move fish farther to your fly. Our water temperatures are in the low to mid 30’s right now, so it is unlikely that a trout will move more than a foot for your black zebra. But they might move 2-3 feet for a Rainbow Czech. Add some UV fire red thread and a pink lucent bead (maybe a little bright pink metallic wire?), and you might encourage a fish to move 4-5 feet for your fly.
Now, imagine that fly drifting down the river. It’s a magnet for fish. But your #20 Zebra has a lot less “magnetos” power than a #10 Rainbow Czech Nymph. And that fly has potentially less “magnetic” power than your “home brew”.
The flip side, of course, is that large, gaudy flies can put off fish that are actively feeding on naturals like midges. And wade angels who spent more time fishing a small area will probably want to start with big “pink” stuff, but slowly downsize as the fish become more selective.
If you’re looking for some materials, ask Ben McNinch at the shop. We have a great assortment of “pink” tying materials available, and Ninch is the guru. He will probably tell you how he rolls, and what some of is favorite pink variations are. The only way to get that information from our guides is to hire them for the day, and that applies to me as well as you.
Secretive bunch of bastards…