The Beadhead Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear…don’t leave home without one. Of all the small nymphs in my fly box, none matched the success of this old standby during the late 2008 Rogue River season. A standard in most nympher’s fly boxes and even more so in my mine. Call me a traditionalist.
But a small Hare’s Ear for steelhead? Sure! Bugs are what unfailingly work here on the Rogue River. Look at the Ugly Bug or Rubber-Leg Stonefly Nymph . I call mine Carpetbaggers (aka…Selbicky’s “Magic” fly) because someone once suggested that the material they are made of looks like a piece of carpet complete with black and white rubber strands. And they bag fish! The general shape, size and legs suggest a large stonefly nymph of which there are many naturals inhabiting the fast, rocky, clean water of the Rogue River. Carpetbaggers work great in the early season when the water is warm and the fish are active. I’ll fish a beadhead Carpetbagger alone, confident that an active, fresh steelhead will move to intercept the big fly just about anywhere in the water column. When the late season water becomes cold, that’s when I add the smaller Beadhead G.R. Hare’s Ear as a dropper. During a fall with low fish numbers and a very sparse bite, this can make a big difference. Why not offer the fish a choice…a big fly or a small fly? A colorful carpet-like fly or a drab more natural fly with a tiny bit of flash?
I found the strategy worked this past year. Not surprisingly, in the cold water of late fall, the steelhead often took the smaller, drab Hare’s Ear. And so much is my confidence in this old standby pattern, that I forego the Prince Nymphs, the Pheasant Tail Nymphs, the Copper Johns, and the small egg patterns. Like the old American Express ad admonished…I didn’t leave home without it.