A short while ago, I wrote a column about which rifle cartridge I considered as the best all-around caliber. Some of you agreed with me and some did not. It was a fun exercise, in part, because it gets people to thinking, about why they prefer one gun over another. As it is with gun calibers, so it is with one’s favorite fly. No matter what fly I pronounce the world’s best fly, there are going to be folks who disagree with me. So be it. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine, but at least we get to examine the subject of what might constitute the world’s best fly.
Fly fishers are a weird lot. They spend countless hours trying to outwit a primitive creature with a brain the size of a pea. Then, if they are successful in catching a fish on a fly, they congratulate themselves on how brilliant they are. No doubt about it, fly fishers are a weird bunch. Your favorite fly is very likely to be a function of how well it catches fish when you use it. I suspect that there is also a large dose of self-fulfilling prophecy at work here. It’s sort of like Dumbo the Flying Elephant with his magic feather. If you believe that your fly is the best one available, then you fish more confidently with it, and lo and behold! You catch more fish.
As a kid, I recall visiting old Carp’s Tackle Shop in the springtime to stock up on crappie jigs. While crappie jigs come in a host of different shapes, sizes, and color combinations, Old Carp swore that the secret to really catching a lot of crappie was to use small red and white jigs. Carp kept a supply of the magic red and white jigs, out of sight under the counter. When no one else was looking Carp would whisper, “Come here, Nimrod, and I’ll let you have some of my special crappie jigs. Don’t tell anyone else where you got them, because they work so good pretty soon all the crappie will be fished out”.