The Magic Bullet
16 March 2005
| Page: 4
I throw in with the ‘trigger’ concept of fly design. I put a lot of stock into the shape and posture of a trout fly, the most important of such triggers, but any angler knows that colour can be a significant feature on its own. A perfect example is the ‘Blob’ of recent fame on UK reservoirs – little more than a moving splodge of strong colour. My years as a steelhead angler showed me that fresh sea-run fish in particular can be suckers for certain colours, some of which are more or less ‘natural’ but some of which are just weird – purple and chartreuse for instance. I’ve caught many steelhead and salmon on no more than a shapeless tuft of coloured yarn, at first in natural ‘egg’ colours, but eventually on all sorts of odd hues. We don’t have to know why flies like the Donegal Blue work, I suppose, just that they do – but it’s a hard thing to accept if you like to make some sense of why things are as they are.
Gary La Fontaine reckoned that some colours just show up more intensely in certain lights and are enough to get the fly noticed – a major concern in itself. He had a special affection for the lime green Trude dry fly on bright days. I know plenty of highland anglers who still swear by the Blue Zulu in bright weather, and Sydney Spencer held his Donegal Blue in reserve for a ‘blue day’, when it outfished anything else. I suspect that La Fontaine and Spencer would see eye to eye on some things and, who knows, maybe they’ll get a chance to share a boat on the other side, and compare notes. I once had a blazing afternoon on Harris when the sea trout were enthusiastically ‘selecting’ the Donegal Blue and ignoring all else. That only has to happen once to keep the whole colour issue open.
Before I’m pushing up daisies I’d like to at least get a glimpse into what makes a trout tick when it comes to colour. There is no doubt that it can be an important trigger, at least a secondary one, and many experienced l hold it much higher than that. Maybe we shouldn’t