I am convinced that flies are created to hook more anglers than fish. There are flies that catch fish and flies that catch anglers.
I was browsing through a book on bonefish patterns and there are some really neat flies. There also are some real jokes. How some of them made it into the book is beyond me.
And what else gets me is that someone tweaks an established pattern a little bit and then puts his or her name on it.
The late George Rose of Rotonda was one of my early fly-tying mentors. He told me in his New Hampshire accent, "Steve, there are no new patterns. There all variations on the same theme."
I still believe that.
One of saltwater's truly great flies in the Clouser Minnow, a simple pattern developed by Pennsylvanian Bob Clouser. The fly will take everything from bonefish to carp. All it consists of is an upper and lower clump of bucktail, a little flash and lead eyes. Four steps and you're done.
But there are some numbnuts out there who add a little ice chenille for a body and add their name to the fly.
I created a fly that I named the Myakka Minnow. You can Google it and learn how to tie it. It's a great pattern for panfish and other freshwater species. The beauty of the fly is that it can be tied on any size hook to be used for any minnow-eating species you desire. The fly appeals to everything from bluegill to tarpon.
I posted the fly's recipe on a website, along with photos and the tying procedure. It mostly drew raves, but one disgruntled forum member blasted me for copying someone else's fly and adding my name to it.
I responded that I had never seen a fly like it, but certainly it was possible that there would be another out there. I asked if he would post a link to the site where he had seen it.
A couple of days later, he did. I clicked on the link and it took me to another site. There on my screen I saw my fly. It was on another forum where I had posted the Myakka Minnow photo and recipe.
Guilty! I copied my own fly.
The Myakka Minnow has caught literally thousands of fish. It's a dynamite pattern for oscar and Mayan cichlid in The Everglades.
About a year ago, a fly angler from North Carolina emailed me and wanted to know if I would sell him a few Myakka Minnows. I replied that I would. I said that the flies cost $3.50 each and the minimum order is a dozen.
He said that he was heading down to The Everglades and had read that the Myakka Minnow was THE fly.
About a week later, I mailed the flies to him. I asked that he let me know how he did.
I got an email from him six months later. He told me that they put their boat in at a canal along Alligator Alley and didn't do so well. So, they loaded the boat on the trailer and drove to another canal. They spent a fishless first hour.
"That's when I tied on a Myakka Minnow," he said. "And that's when I started catching fish.
"Your Myakka Minnow saved the day!"
While the Myakka Minnow is somewhat famous, it's not a contest winner. You have to understand that flies that catch fish and flies that win contests usually are two different animals. I entered the Myakka Minnow and another pattern that I created, my Wide-Eye Snook Fly, in a contest last year. The MM didn't place. The Wide-Eye Snook Fly, a pattern that hadn't ever caught a fish at the time, placed third in the nation.
But like I said at the beginning, there are flies that catch fish and flies that catch anglers.
I'm glad the Myakka Minnow catches fish.