Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Experimental Haystacks

Fran Better's Haystack
 Experimentation is a funny thing.  What characteristic at first seems to be a monstrosity or an oddball could eventually lead to something that becomes quite useful or even supplant the thing that it originally came from.  That's how evolution works (at a simplistic level) and has led to the beautiful diversity of life on this planet.  The same could be said for technology and many aspects of human culture.  It could even be said for the development of flies used in fishing.  Fran Better's Haystack was itself a modification of an earlier fly his father and his friends used.  The Haystack was in turn experimented on to produce the comparadun and sparkle dun.  I bring this up because just recently I was looking at Brk Trout's blog Small Stream Reflections and he has come up with a great new fly....."The Ausable Darter".  This fly is based on many of the same materials used by Fran Better's in his flies that have proved so effective at catching trout.  If you have not checked out his blog, you really should it has become one of my favorites.  This kind of experimentation is not only fun but this may become a very useful fly.

Royal Haystack, light
One of the first flies I learned to tie was a standard Haystack.  It was inexpensive to make and fun to do.  In addition, The Royal Haystack pictured above was not only my first adventure into experimental fly tying but also the first fly I ever caught a fish on.  It was a 5" wild brookie that I will never forget.  It was also my first fish caught on a Tenkara rod.  My point is that a fly that does not fit the expected norm can be weird looking but if it fools a fish who cares? It is now useful.  I have definitely had some flies that didn't fit the norm too.  One of them is at the bottom of this post.  Some of my flies have not worked well at all but it's the experimentation that helps keep excited about tying flies.  I would encourage others out there to do the kind experimentation that Brk Trout displays in his blog.  It's not only good for you but for the rest of us as well.

Royal Haystack, dark or dun

Latest experiment....a Golden Haystack

Front view of the Golden Haystack (golden pheasant tippets for wing and tail)
Will it catch fish?
I guess I'll have to experiment


  1. Look like fish catchers to me. Nice photos.

  2. Those Royal Haystacks Light and Dark, are a pattern I will tie and use. Brookie flies for sure.
    Well done

  3. Brk Trt, thanks for the compliment. I also need to thank you for all the great flies that you post about. I have added or will add flies such as the edson tiger, ausable bomber, and darter, and orange palmer to my fly box to try this coming season. Keep up the good work.