The Joy and Curse of the Magic Fly

by Rebecca on August 27, 2010

in Fly Fishing

Mr. Brownstone says Hello to a little Magic

Yesterday I felt the world pressing in on me from all angles and the intense feeling of  claustrophobia became so severe that the only thing I could think to do as an antidote was head immediately to the nearest fishery. No? Not buying an overly dramatic excuse? Ok fine. I just wanted to go Fly Fishing, so I did. Honestly, that’s how the drill normally works, want and do — but I thought maybe if I used some creative allowances it would make for a good first sentence hook.

Anyway, I went fly fishing. Same drill, different day. I’m not sure what everyone else uses for a ‘routine’ when they approach a river that they know fairly well, but being the creature of habit that I am, I typically put on the last fly I was successful with at the Fishcruiser and from there I make changes once I’m on the water. I suppose a better fisherman would run down to the river first, turn over some rocks, skim the top of the water and watch for specific hatches before they tie on their first fly. I’m just not that sort of fisherman-er-gal. I guess I’m more the must get on water immediately sort of angler.

Yesterday I knew I wanted to do a Hopper with a dropper. Hopper, easy, dropper…so MANY to choose from. I went with a sentimental value choice and tied on a tiny Mr. Zebra midge that ColoradoAngler had sent me in the mail a few weeks ago. I can’t remember how many I started with since I didn’t pay attention out the gate. But what I realized rather quickly is that I had a limited supply.

A good example of my Bad photography skills ~ This brown had a knarly jaw line

Within 3 casts my Hopper slipped beneath the surface of the water, not taken, but yanked under by a dropper take. Judging by the zing on my reel and the bend in my rod, I had a big old pig on. Within 20 seconds my 6x tippet snapped and I quickly plucked a matching Zebra from my Fly box and tied it on. It didn’t take long and once again I was ZING and BEND and SNAP. Repeat, rinse and shine. Fish Fiesta! I managed to bring in a few smaller browns without another snap off and the realization that I had picked the magic fly for the day spread a smile on my face from ear to ear.

The way I see it, some days you discover the magic fly that no fish can resist and some days you don’t. Yesterday was like walking up to a hay wired slot machine and as long as I had another dollar to put in, it paid off every time. The problem arose when I dove into my Fly Box once again to get another pay day of magic and realized I had two left.


Instantly my eyebrows tensed up and I analyzed the situation. I decided strategic maneuvers were in order and although I hated to tweak any manner of the magic, I decided a 5x tippet might help preserve the mojo of the afternoon.

Bringing in some of the Magic with the always helpful Bandon watching

It helped and I managed to bring in more decent to big fish. At one point a kindly gentleman came down the river bank to watch me bring in Mr. Brown (pictured above) and offered to take a few pictures of me. Cha-Ching ~ Visual proof since I had already given up on the prospect of taking pictures since, well, I truly suck at it. (see example of the knarly jawed brown)

Thank you Kindly Gentleman.

The problem with any sort of decent magic is that eventually it ends. My magic ended the moment I lost the last Zebra on a fish that barely fit into my net and when I tried to lift it out of the water the fish did an impressive back-flip back out: subsequently breaking my line.

Two Smiles

Since this is a PG website, I’ll just say the sounds of Mother Farfegnugen (or something like that) made an impressive echo down the canyon walls. If there had been a way to send a S.O.S. signal to ColoradoAngler, I would have and ordered another round of his Magic, pronto. Sadly, that wasn’t possible, so I tied on the closest thing I could find in my fly box to a Zebra and learned quickly that my fun was over with a capitol O ~

At least for several hours I was spot on, which in my world of Fly Fishing happens occasionally, but not nearly as often as I’d like. I hate losing flies, but if it’s going to happen, I’d rather my ship sink like it did yesterday than say…from tree branches and willow bushes.

Wishing you all a magic Fly kind of weekend…

(Ron! We need to talk Magic Flies!)


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

ClifNo Gravatar August 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm

They still say farfegnugen in Idaho?


DaveNo Gravatar August 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm

That is one beautiful brownie you got your hands on there. Personally, I wish that we had some brownies closer to me, however if I decided to head on after a brown, it’d be a 2 hour drive each way.
The curse of the magic fly… I know this well. As from my experience last October with my first steelhead on fly (and ever for that matter). It was my last October Caddis Pupae of the 5 I had bought the previous day (4 lost earlier that day). The fifth remained in the first steelhead as it snapped my 4x off right at my feet as I was going to tail the fish (I don’t use nets) on my 5wt newbie Scientific Angler’s learn to fly fish combo I bought some 2 months earlier from Wal-Mart.
But remember, as a wise man once told me (not too long ago). A fly fished with confidence will catch more fish than even the “right” fly on almost any given day.
I’m very similar as I choose my flies before I hit the water. Sometimes I’m spot on, but one thing I’ve learned, be flexible and be aware.
So, wanna catch more fish? Everybody fishes nymphs, and everybody fishes dries, Next time you’re out and you’ve got a sparse hatch and wanna fish the dry fly, take a soft-hackle wet fly or unweighted nymph and drop it right off the dry fly hook about 18″ drift and swing… drift and swing… If you don’t already do this, I’d be willing to bet (almost guarantee) that your catch rate will increase dramatically.
Good luck



Colorado AnglerNo Gravatar August 27, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Dang, Garlock! Mr. Brownstone….EPIC HAUL. Geeez….you realize, that in the past week, you’ve stuck some tonnage in browns.

Magic? Yes, magic…of the darkest kind, bwaahaahaaaa!

Actually, a fly is only as good as the person throwing it – and I think over the past few weeks you’ve proven yourself worthy of the title….dare I say it? Nah….you KNOW what I was going to say. Embrace it.

But we can still discuss the ‘magic’ flies and get you resupplied – just great to see that you had a great day with those.


ShoremanNo Gravatar August 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Hey Rebecca. I’m with you. Rig up, pick the fly, and walk to the river. I like the Zebra Midge. Only tied a couple, but they’re fun. Have to pick an afternoon and run down to the Mokelumne and try the hopper/dropper rig with a ZM. See what happens. Great Brownie, but don’t you hate it when they pop a 6x tippett?



EmilyNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 12:36 am

I’m in total agreement with Dave on the SOFT HACKLE!!! It’s my go-to fly anytime there isn’t much hatch activity…


DaveNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 11:09 am

No kidding. Not many people here in western Oregon fish soft hackles anymore. Even at the fly shop, they’re keyed in on dries or heavy nymphs I picked a few up a couple months ago and started dropping them off the back of my dry fly. My catch ratio went up through the roof. Presently, I’m in love with the old Partridge and Orange and other variants, (partridge and yellow or green), a Delektable ‘Lil Spanker (olive) or an unweighted/non bead PT nymph about a 16-18. Drift with a swing at the end, I’ve caught fish both ways.


Carl D.No Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 1:25 am

ok thats it, i havnt been out in almost a month (love the overtime though) its time to dust off the boots and get my line in the water. great pics , you have officially made the itch entirely to unbearable…………


BGNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 4:41 am

LOVE IT!! You had it all that day. Also, is that a fiberglass rod w/ single foot guides in the top pic? If so ,tell me more, please. You made my day with this post.


LarryBNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 7:05 am

Great “hook” young lady. Really powerful post altogether Reb. I too echo BG above, that you just made My day too. :-)
I’m gonna Tweet this to my buds that haven’t been lucky enough to read your way with Magic yet.

Zinging reels…



WolfyNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 9:09 am


Great fish and great day. I wondered who your “photographer companion” (going with the PG theme) was!

Magic Flies are fun when you find them, but they have a dark flip-side – sometimes you keep one on TOO long , because it was once the Magic Fly, when you ought to be trying a new pattern. Part of the fun of flyfishing!



KirkNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 11:25 am

No need for a dramatic opening to your stories, Rebecca- you had me hooked at “claustrophobic”. Great job on the gnarly hook-jawed brown- wish we had some out my way, but alas tis not the case. As for 6X I love/hate the stuff. I love it because it helps fool the fish when they’re leader shy and want a perfect presentation, but once you’ve fooled them, then you have to land them. That’s when I hate the stuff. I had a rainbow break me off yesterday on 5X. Think I’ll start using parachute chord from now on.
Great stuff- congrats on the fish!


The Average Joe FishermanNo Gravatar September 11, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Here piggy piggy. That brown is a pig. Good for you. I just caught a the biggest brown of my life out the tiny creek I grew up on. It took me 25 years, but I did it. Beautiful fish. Cheers.

The Average Joe Fisherman


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