Introduction

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The Top Fifty is a collection of fly patterns  developed, tweaked, modified or bastardized by Bob Sheedy and friends.

While deadly in still waters found all over the world, the patterns also prove very effective in streams, running water, in stream sections where patterns must have their own inherent movement to be effective. Consequently, some of the patterns in this book have become very popular when working deeper pools, flats and other waters where anglers often like to ignore but are where the greater majority of trout like to hide or rest. Patterns like the Psychedelic P-Quad are extremely versatile, having been tested in such exotic far-flung climes as Chile, Siberia, Tasmania and steelhead rivers of the Great Lakes and West Coast of North America.

The Internet has made such testing and reporting entirely possible and very rewarding. Although Mark Vogel was the original creator of the pattern intended for still waters, the author finds it useful in small streams as well as when hunting lunker trout in any environment. But it is just one of the exciting patterns our group of lake fly fishers has finally given to the general public by publishing this book.

The Top Fifty is not simply a fly pattern book. It's pages are filled with how to, where to and 'when-to' -- to present the patterns at the most effective time of year and in the most effective manner.

The Top Fifty is the perfect partner for Bob's other book - Bob Sheedy's Lake Fly Fishing Strategies - your complete set of guides to working water where waves are more likely to rule, rather than eddies.

 

Psychedelic P-Quad

 

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The fly-fishing industry started feeling the pinch in several areas a few years ago. After Robert Redfordís "A River Runs Through It" lost its yuppie luster, a freshly-dedicated core remained to overcrowd various streams throughout North America. Many quit -- quite a few of them sooner than later -- but some remained. And in the meantime, angling methods became even more refined. So refined, in fact, that fly fishing became an "art form" once again, and many newcomers left the streams for their golf clubs. Their inability to roll cast 60 feet of line to address pocket water or distant undercuts turned them away, and when they could not, the depreciating stares of those who could assured that they would not soon return.

Unfortunately, certain aspects of fly fishing have gained association and synonymy with snobbery, which prevents many from making the step across a chasm that could have yielded so much enjoyment -- and some much-needed refreshment for the industry as a whole. I doubt that many of the old-timers miss the neophytesí presence on the stressed waters of the St. Marys, Elk, Gallatin, Bighorn or Green rivers -- they are probably quietly rejoicing, instead. Sometimes, when we read articles in the pages of glossy fly fishing magazines, even we veterans of some 60 years or more feel threatened by those consummate professionals, they who must never be questioned and whom, if confronted, will quickly coil into a stance that would make a streamside diamondback rattlesnake appear more friendly.

Nonetheless, many people continue wanting to "try out" the sport, and might even hit one of those international "big box" stores for a trial rod and reel, then spend several afternoons on their lawns, or in parks, attempting to cast. Some even pack their new tackle along with their spinning rods, but often end up by merely trolling their flies, thus avoiding those who would further turn them off by failing to encourage such early efforts.

More is the pity. Small wonder that so-called "normal" anglers view most fly fishers as outright preppy snobs. I mean, they do have a point. After much media input, Lake fly fishing in general has devolved into what the British termed bastardized "buzzer" fishing. Fly rods and reels being what they are, the most efficient way to present a chironomid (buzzer pupa) along a weed-line is under a small slip bobber that can be cast for long distances and even adjusted to make certain it is "just above the bottom". An ultra-light spinning rod and reel makes a lot of sense, especially for those with limited budgets or the constraints of pre-teen years. The method is to be lauded. The fly-fishing and tackle industry haven't yet exploited the idea but it is coming.

Probably the second mental hurdle for a non-fly fisher to span arises when attempting to comprehend why any trout, however challenged mentally, would desire to bite something made only of fur, feathers and thread -- and oh yes, nowadays a cluster of brightly UV materials tipped with a special tungsten bead. From a spin-fishermanís point of view, fly patterns seldom wobble, vibrate or shudder, generating the sonic waves thought to be necessary for attracting quarry. Yet, in many cases, fly patterns are empirically superior to lures formed from steel, wood or plastic. In fact, when properly tied and presented, these age-old offerings can be downright devastating.

The reason lies partly in emulation and partly in movement. Trout routinely sort through thousands of suspended particles of flotsam and jetsam on a daily basis. True, we occasionally find salad mixed in with the protein while investigating stomach contents, but for the most part trout appear to be very adept at discriminating their forage. Drifting aimlessly in the minor currents of still waters, inanimate particles are viewed as trash, but allow a scud to move, even in algae-bloomed waters, and a troutís alert eyes and lateral lines will identify the difference. As surely as an astronomer riffles through star field photos, searching for the telltale blink that denotes a new celestial body, a troutís senses are finely attuned to movement. If a morsel has the size, color and shape of some recently available protein, it may be taken readily. If a fly pattern mimics these characteristics and movements, then a hookup becomes likely.

Long ago, fly fishers learned that few insects, forage fish or crustaceans offer much more than a subtle disturbance to which a troutís lateral line is conditioned and attuned. Therefore, effective fly patterns need not flutter, vibrate, or otherwise attract by sonic means for long distances, but they do require that an angler offer them in the area where their quarry is seeking supper. That requires the ability to "read the water", no easy task in a water-body usually tossing under the wind.

All too often, budding fly fishers concentrate only on the acquisition of their rod, reel and line at a price that allows them to ease into the sport without destroying their bank account. More than likely they head for one of those big box stores that deal in quantity rather than quality. If you fall into this category, you are not alone. However, I donít know of any trout that bite on a rod, reel or line -- itís what is attached to the end of the leader with a properly tied knot. The harried clerk in that big box store probably wasnít very knowledgeable, therefore, not very helpful about fly selection. As a result, when deploying the machine-tied desecrations available at those places, and at most other non-specialty stores that purport to carry fly fishing tackle, your efforts may quickly lead to early disappointment.

If one have access to a bona-fide fly shop the proprietor likely has rows of a large number of selections on display. While it may not be wise to tell a fly shop owner that you acquired your primary tackle elsewhere, once you have received assistance with your initial fly selection, you will soon realize the wisdom of returning for further consultations. That's when you begin to prowl through the many packages of fly components adorning the fly shop wall until one-day your progression leads to the perfect size of tungsten-non-toxic bead to race your offering floated stationary under the same "strike indicator" (slip bobber) you could have operated more efficiently with the spin-cast rod you have now relegated to the closet.

That's when realization hits that rod, reel and line are but the beginnings of a journey that will end the day you suddenly keel over in your favorite strip of water, or slump down in your float tube, with a smile so broad that even the undertaker canít erase it.

 

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