Nothing New Under the Sun

Ive had this idea for a killer fly floating around in my head for a while now. 

It’s entirely unique too. Never been seen before. Unique. Revolutionary. Quite possibly patentable (did you know that Harley Davidson have patented their V-Twin engine sound?). 


I’m a big proponent of the Pheasant Tail Nymph. It does what it has to do and it does it very well. I like that it’s a traditional pattern and , provided that you have somewhat more dexterity than I or tie it on single-digit hooks, can be tied in your hand. I like that it consists of two materials and doesn’t require hours on the Internet to buy overpriced and marginally useful exotic materials. 

It’s close to the perfect fly but has, to my mind, one shortcoming – it lacks movement. 

A buggy fly is a fly that catches fish. I love those flies that look like they’ve been through the heavy wash cycle at the laundry and by some chance of fate remained pinned to the pocket of your favourite fishing shirt. They’re the flies that catch my eye as I peer into my box (or down at my shirt, as the case may be). I want to see a mess of tails and hairy bits sprouting from under wingcases. I want to see various bits flapping in the breeze like the panels on a rural minibus taxi on a rutted dirt road.

So here (patent pending) is my revolutionary idea. 

The tail and the abdomen is just like an ordinary PTN. The abdomen is peacock, Troth style. The wingcase is traditional or, as necessity dictates, something with some flash (and preferably UV but I’m not completely sold on that stuff). 

Hush now, I’m fully aware that I’ve just described a Troth PTN. But brace yourself, here comes the revolutionary bit: when you wind the ‘rope’ for the thorax you include a bit of sparse hackle as you would in a Zak. You fold the wingcase over and the hackle gives you some sparse and very flexible ‘legs’.

Below is a picture of a Zak in production so that you get an idea of what I mean. 


See? Genius, huh? Revolutionary? 

You’re right, not so much. 

And that’s the thing with the overwhelmingly vast majority of flies out there – there’s nothing new under the sun. 

Most of what we see is just a rehash of an existing pattern or patterns.  Some incorporate some new material but the techniques and basic premise of the thing stays the same. 

When a name has been assigned to a fly it often denotes a style of tying. A broad general idea of a pattern. Take, for example, the wooly worm. Does anyone still fish them? They’re a highly effective pattern. There are so many knock-offs of that pattern that the mind boggles. Spare me the explanation, a wooly bugger is wooly worm. No? Long body, short fluffy tail, palmered hackle? Wooly worm. Oh, the bugger has a bead? How is that different to a split shot 5″ up the tippet?


I could go on and on about this sort of thing but if there’s something that I have a particular issue with it is the naming of flies. Substituting a material and proportion of the original does not, in my not-ever-too-humble opinion, call for giving it a new name. I can’t tell anything apart anymore. 
My main gripe is that all this christening of garden-style flies is pretentious. I get that it’s a lot of fun though and I encourage the creativity. Honestly, keep doing it. But see it for what it is; derivative. 

To me the main reason to ‘tinker’, as a friend calls it, with patterns is to increase one’s confidence in the pattern. 

Flyfishing is very often a 100% confidence game. If your tweak to a pattern gives you confidence and catches you more fish then I’m in your camp. As long as adding a tail to your elk hair caddis doesn’t give you delusions of reputational grandeur, that is. Please don’t name the damned thing. Just don’t. (And don’t tell us how hot it is before it’s seen water. Fish it, catch a fish, share it. Many great ideas are rusting in the far corners of fly boxes.)

So, all of this begs the question as to what I’m going to name my proposed nymph. I was thinking the Hackled Troth PTN. 

Because that’s what it is. 

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3 responses to “Nothing New Under the Sun

  1. Hi Andrew, as always, I enjoyed this blog. Even Pete has problems naming flies. I think the best way to go would be, Al Troth’s PTN (Savs variant). Keep churning out these blogs. Regards.

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