Scott Baker-McGarva. Head guide at BC West on the Dean. Black flies.
Pick Any Color, As Long As It’s Black!
Call me Canadian…since I am, but once I got called out for being a ‘Canuck’, simply because of my choice of steelhead fly color. It took place on the Sauk one fine spring day many moons ago. Apparently, according to some dude named ‘Dec’ yelling at us from across the river, guys he ‘didn’t know’ tossing spey rods and black flies, ‘must be from Canada.’
Now most steelhead bibles are full of black flies, and purple flies, and so on, so one must ask how is this a ‘Canadian’ thing? Well let’s blame some old timers, I won’t get into names, but they know who they are – always representin’ with the black GP or Wooly Worm (seriously…Woolies kick arse and take names…who knew?).
I blame the excess of glacial till in our waters, the British, or maybe it’s that trout instinct far upriver come October – but black, or just plain dark, works.
It’s the go-to in dirty water or low light, for the silhouette offered by a dark shade is far stronger than a bright fly. It’s also far less likely to spook a fish in low and
clear conditions. Flies tied in black look like all kinds of edibles a steelhead might remember from its youth, or just plain piss it off.
Like a bright fly, it doesn’t really have to be complicated…just sized accordingly to the conditions and light. If one is really in need of color, add some…fish have never seen a Green Butt Skunk anywhere before but it sure accounted for lots of fish at one time. Why not Green Butt Intruders, orange feelers on a ‘Black GP’ or a black marabou tube slid over a fluorescent pink one?
It’s all in the change up. If your buddy is tossing the big and pink…toss the small and black. The reward is out there, and size is over-rated anyway.