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Fly Patterns To Combat Fly Fishing Elitism

Although the culture has come a long way, fly fishing maintains the well-earned reputation for being a bit elitist. At times, it can seem as if the country club has nothing on the fly shop. There is gear that must be owned. There  are labels that have to be worn. And, most importantly, there are flies that  are to be fished.

As is the case with most positives in this world, there is a corresponding negative. That is to say: there are some flies that are not to be fished.

These patterns are seen as the mongrel half-breeds that straddle the line between fly fishing and bait fishing. They are flies in name only. Created from synthetic materials and imitating much less sophisticated foodstuffs (if they imitate anything at all), they are second class citizens in a world that fawns over delicate mayflies. In the eyes of some, you aren’t fishing a worm or a clump of Power Bait… but you might as well be.

The problem is that these flies produce. The ugly, the gaudy, the rubber-leggedy all catch fish.  So you can’t have your in-crowd cake and eat trout, too.

Well,  if there is something that can be said with certainty it is this: perception is reality. What if you could still use those taboo flies? What if there was a method by which you could frame your angling such that it comes across as much more high-brow than it actually is? What people think they think about what you are using to catch trout is… what they think. Ergo, if you twist the truth a little you can break through the tweed ceiling.

The no-fly fly list has been developed by the fly fishing hive mind based upon certain subjective criteria. Often, the reasons for each pattern’s inclusion on this wall of shame are lost. All that remains is the  names. Like message board curse words, they are only spoken in a pejorative manner.

Thankfully names of flies are flexible.

Below is a handful of alternative pattern names. Consider it a handy way to recast the patterns that you use to catch all of your fish. When you are asked, all you have to do is give the secondary pronunciation. With a little Latin or just some general misdirection, even the most tarnished fly names can come across as refined.

Of course, follow-up questions are tricky. If  they probe and want to see your fly, you could just gesture in the general direction of your fly box. Or point over their shoulder and run away.

Give these churched-up fly names a go the next time you stop into the shop after a day on the water:

Pre-Juvenile Trout

Extended Body Caddis Nymph

Pre-Juvenile Sucker

Center-Segmented Oligochaeta

Marabou Leech/Stonefly/Sculpin/etc.

Cruelty-Free, Vegan Body Material


All of the flies pictured above are available for purchase from Risen Fly Fishing. Risen Fly is great, affordable gear sold by people who won’t judge you if you fish San Juan Wo… I mean  center-segmented oligochaeta. Fill up one of their silicone boxes for the coming season!


And don’t be elitist. Fishing is fishing.


  1. If you’re ever in Colorado and you see an older guy wearing raggedy cutoffs, some god awful fly fishing t-shirt and a scraggly gray beard, stop and ask him to see what flies he is fishing because he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of his choice. Elitist…never heard of her.

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