I freaking love fly fishing. I love fly tying. I am a fan of basketball. I love the high energy and excitement of the unknown living up to, or, letting us down. Every year my optimism for the upcoming fishing season gets me all giddy. The idea of bugs dancing on the water and trout eagerly eating gets me all excited. All the while my wife is unamused and although she is excited to fish, she is more reserved with her emotions. The idea of a fly bracket hit me in the winter. I thought, “why not marry the two things I like about March”. We’re all tying or fishing or dreaming of fishing.
I wanted to do something to lift our spirits and possibly give a little moral boost to us anglers. Feel free to use this as a guide for flies to tie this winter/spring. Or as a good list of flies you need to stock up on for the year. These are by no means the best flies in the world (though the argument could be made for some). These are by no means the best flies for your local waters (though the argument could be made for some). It’s just for fun. Check back weekly to see if what you think are the best flies are what others think are the best flies. FILL OUT YOUR BRACKET HERE March Mania
I came up with a list of 64 flies. 95% of these came from the depths of my brain. A few I looked up, mostly the old classic patterns. I thought it would be fun to put a classic and modern together. Each fly has a little history of the fly (as best we could find) including who tied it, when, what it’s for etc. If we are wrong about something, please tell us at ([email protected]) ([email protected]). Feel free to reach out if you have a great story for a podcast or if you are the originator one of the flies in the competition. We want to accurately record the history of the fly. I randomized the order so there might be a tiny dry versus a huge streamer. There are classics versus new. There are traditional flies versus modern flies. I did not pair them, I let the computer do it and just went it.
This is a predictive 1v1 fly tournament, single elimination, most votes wins and moves onto the next round. Which of the two flies do you have more confidence in? Rounds are weekly in March and End Thursday nights at 11:59. Mark from the Fly Fishing 97 Podcast and I will be doing a recap of the matchups and preview of the new matchups of the winners. Listen weekly to hear what we got going on and what flies will move on. Check your brackets often!
The first question that popped into your head, like mine, was: How the hell are you going to compare a Comparadun and a Prince nymph? The short of it is, I’m not. It’s 100% subjective to the voter. The fly with the most votes moves on to the next round. So, it’s actually a democratic vote of confidence per fly match up. The essential question is: Which of the two flies do you have more confidence in? I am not picking winners nor am I saying that fly A is better than fly B, you are, along with 5000 other voters. The second question is: Which of the two flies does the fly fishing community have more confidence in? Votes will be tallied and whichever fly gets the most votes moves on to the next round until we crown a champion, “The Best Fly in the World” as voted on by random possibly highly unqualified people.
Prizes awarded for perfect brackets!
The scenario I paint for the matchup is simple… It’s a midsummer day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). You are on a western trout river. Your standing near the bank in ankle deep water while looking out at the river. You open your fly box. On the left side there is one fly, and on the right, there is the other fly. Which one are you more likely to grab and tie on first?
I know, I know, I know… But what about the temperature of the air? What about the temperature of the water? What about a hatch? Are there bugs in the water or in the air? What about the weather that day? Is it sunny or overcast? Is it pocket water or flats like the Henry’s Fork Ranch? I get it. I’ve been fly fishing for 25 years and I understand the variables and nuances. I simply can’t answer those questions because it would bias the results. The long and short of it is, it’s whatever you want it to be. Same with the flies. If I say a Pheasant Tail versus a Elk Hair Caddis, I’m really pairing up 100 possible combinations. Again, it’s whatever you want it to be. The Pheasant tail could have a beadhead or not. It could have a CDC collar or not. It could be size 10 or 20. It could be a jig head or non-weighted. It could be traditional or have a hotspot. If you open your fly box on the left and right side there are your favorite variations of those two flies: favorite color, size, style, shape whatever.
This is meant to be fun. I am really interested in seeing the breakdown of votes for flies. I hope you are too. I have plans in the future to qualify voters before the voting begins. I think people who fish for a living (guides) should get more credit with their fly choices than myself who fishes often but not as much as a guide. Lastly, the guy who goes fishing with a guide or only gets out 8 days a year gets the least valued vote. Let me know what you think about that. I was thinking of implementing 3 choices – Fishes 50+ days a year– Fishes between 50-10 days a year– fishes less than 10 days a year. Subsequently, there is a grade to the qualifying voter. “50+ day” people get a multiple of 2. “Fish 50-10” days get a single vote. “Fishes less than 10 days” get a .5 multiple on their vote. I think this will also help with achieving reliable data (best flies).
Once you vote, don’t be afraid to post on social media and tell people what you got going into the next round. I think the bracket matchups will get more and more interesting round after round, week after week. Get your friends together and see who has a better selection.
Big Thanks to Mark at The Fly Fishing 97 Podcast. Without his expertise in recording and producing podcasts this would not be possible. Also, the winner will get flies mentioned in this bracket tied by Mark himself. Checkout his other podcasts because he has some of the best fly fishermen in the world on there. Also, big thanks to the wives for allowing us to stay up late and talk about flies, fishing and for tying flies for you guys. Finally, if you tie these flies you know how long it takes to tie one. It only takes a second to lose your entire fly box. Protect your fly box, nets, fly rods and other valuable gear with Karmik Outdoors. Here is a little video about the value of our decals.
– Robert, Founder of Karmik outdoors, terrible fly tyer, only slightly better fishermen but still not great.