I've always wondered, why did the classic winged wet fly fall out of favor? All of those wonderful patterns in Ray Bergman's classic "Trout" didn't get there by accident, did they?
Soft Hackles have still been fished with consistency to no surprise but I'm talking about the quill or flank feather winged wets.
Right after the casting streamer this is probably my favorite type of fly fishing. I like to fish them on an old Fenwick fiberglass 6-weight I own with a nice slow action and it's a lot of fun.
Granted, that's a personal preferance perhaps because of my nostalgic bent but they are still damn effective flies, especially for brook trout who feed subsurface the majority of the time. The British anglers on the other side of the pond have never stopped using them as they remain killing patterns on the Lochs for sea trout.
They do require some degree of skill to fish effectively by imparting some life to the fly and require you're paying attention to set the hook on a take but that's nothing the average guy with a rod can't handle.
Thankfully people like Don Bastian, Davy Wotton, Ralph Graves and Andy Brasco have brought them back into relevance, a new crop as talented or more so than previous luminaries like Helen Shaw or Art Smith.
I love the colorful attractors as much as the next guy but find the drab natural colors like anything else get the most approval and play from the fish. As in real life, it's not always the prettiest belle at the ball that you'll get the most action with. (Semi-apologies there but I never said these posts would be PC)
Besides swinging, lifting or dancing them through the obvious lies in a stream like pockets, glides, riffles and tail-outs, give them a shot the next time you're on a trout pond. If there's a wind kicking up I will fish them parallel to the windward shore where insects and other trout food are being washed towards and collected. This has been a very effective tactic for me as fish will cruise there picking off the goodies. Another obvious one is to fish a cast of multiple wets and mix up the flies to contrasting colors and styles. The fish will tell you soon enough what it is on the menu they're looking for.
I won't say that I always have them in my fly boxes but more often than not I will, especially patterns like the Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, Brown Turkey, Black Gnat, Quill Gordon and Montreal. Give some consideration to carrying them yourself and even more to fishing them with an honest effort. In short order you'll wonder why they ever went away.
In no particular order, the list below are the standards that have done the best for me on Maine waters:
Green Drake (Try this both during a Hex hatch AND early the morning after)
(Click on the picture to enlarge)
Row 1: Rangeley, Mallard & Claret, Quill Gordon, Campbell's Fancy, Green Drake
Row 2: Alexandra, Tomah Joe, Montreal, March Brown, Leadwing Coachman, Dr. Burke
Row 3: Kineo, Logan, Silver Doctor, Parmachenee Belle, Trout Fin