Past Bulletins


Cal Bird of Reno Nevada created the original Bird’s Nest pattern as a general purpose nymph imitation that some say has a close resemblance to a modern-day mayfly emerger. As a general purpose imitation it does not, represent a specific species of aquatic insect, but more or less gives the over-all appearance of many aquatic species. Due to this general nature of the pattern it is often found in many different color schemes and body variations. The addition of legs and wing cases are common variations that add a very different look to an otherwise rather vanilla pattern. General purpose nymphs are searching patterns that are an important part of our fly box regardless of where in the world we fish for trout.

As selective as trout can be while surface feeding, they are often very unselective while feeding off the stream bottom. In a selective surface feeding sequence, trout usually find an abundance of a specific aquatic insect that is part of a hatch, spinner fall or even a terrestrial migration. The selective feeding trigger for the trout is the repetition of seeing the same insect time and time again. The experience for the trout is quite different while bottom feeding given the numerous amounts of prey species available in any stretch of stream. With the force of the current pulling along the many shapes and sizes of larva, nymphs, crustaceans and worms; trout rarely see a consistent flow of a single subsurface species to trigger a selective feeding mode. This variety of drifting food is further supplemented with the other aquatic insects and crustaceans that dart, swim and crawl along the bottom by their own will creating a truly abundant variation. General-purpose nymphs fill the need for a nonspecific searching pattern to use for subsurface feeding fish in the same manner that a dry fly angler uses a White Wulff or Royal Coachmen to search for surface feeding fish. Searching patterns help us unlock the secrets of new water when there is no apparent aquatic insect activity present. The best of both worlds can be achieved by using a dropper wet with a dry searching pattern in tandem. The Improved Bird’s Nest is a perfect searching pattern to tie on as a dropper with your favorite dry fly to truly search a large slice of the water column for opportunistic feeders.

In this month’s assortment you have received Improved Bird’s Nest in a number of color schemes as well as various sizes as follows: Size 10- Brown, Size 12- Hares Ear, Size 12- Olive, Size 14- Hares Ear, Size 16 Light Cahill and Size 18- Black. All of these patterns are tied on a Tiemco No. 5262 nymph and streamer hook with perfect bend, down eye, 2X heavy wire, 2X long bronze finish. These are weighted flies that are designed to sink through the water column and travel the lower currents. Constructed mostly of dubbing with sparse additions of hair and hackles these are simple patterns with an almost uncanny ability to catch fish.

As an avid fly angler who is totally consumed by the sport I spend a great deal of time fishing, guiding friends, tying flies and planning my next adventure. Almost of equal enjoyment is the time I spend with fellow anglers, sharing experiences, discussing new techniques and best of all comparing fly boxes. After all, the fly is the central focus of where we begin our planning from the tippet on back at one end to the tactics/strategies for what we are trying to catch on the other end. To the eyes of some there is nothing more beautiful than a fresh caught male brook trout gleaming in the soft sunlight that is reflecting from the crystal clear water he calls home. To others however, it is the exquisitely tied size 14 parachute female Adams sticking in the corner of his slightly hooked jaw and still to many of us it is the combination of both in equal balance creating a memorable experience. Regardless of your perspective on the sport flies are truly the focal point where it all begins. They are the universal angling language in which we all can converse, the true common ground for detailed discussions of tactics, technique, habitat and behavior. Entomology is of course where it all begins, by giving us a basic understanding of the insect life available in the area we fish. Only then we can begin to build an assortment of patterns to fish with confidence.

Their are many ways to approach building a practical assortment of fly patterns to fish with and most of them begin with the logical steps of segragating the basic categories. Starting with the basics of wet versus dry and hook size versus color we can begin to further build a logical assortment by assorting searching patterns versus match the hatch patterns. Life stage forms enter into the equation also and give us a reason to further divide exact match dry fly patterns for instance into emergers, duns, spinners and cripples. Within dry flies we can even include variations in construction beyond standard hackle duns to include comparaduns, hair wings and parachutes. Finally, we also need to move beyond aquatic insects to include terrestrials where we have species definition that brings us to patterns that imitate ants, grasshoppers, damselflies and various beetles. On the subsurface side we can include the additions of such non-aquatic insect life forms as; sculpins, minnows, worms and leeches.

Within this maze of compartments that we call a fly box there can exist an entire strategy to approach a certain stream or a broader approach to cover a given region of streams. I have, for instance, a different set of fly boxes that I use to fish the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that is heavy in caddis and stone fly patterns than I use for the rest of the State where mayflies are my prime focus. I have specific boxes to fish the gin clear spring creeks out West that are assorted with emergers and very small dries that I carry along with my basic boxes of terrestrials, nymphs, streamers and dries. I favor the approach of having boxes for specific types of rivers and regions. It allows you the luxury to build on experience and develop an assortment that can really focus tightly on the local variances of a given ecosystem. It gives you the fly box space to delve deeper into slight variances of color, size and life stage form that really lets you fine-tune your approach.