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Pondering the perfect pattern
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I had just finished my fifth elk hair caddis pattern in a size 12, because anything smaller looks like a blender caddis, so until I am better, I stop there.

It looked great, real fishy, so I was surprised when I added crazy legs on a whim. On page 44 of my fly tying book, the pattern has no legs. Of the 26 caddis and caddis variations on The Fly Shop’s website, none have legs. The Titanic Caddis looks like a caddis fly flew into a foam wall, but it doesn’t have legs.

The Rivers Edge Fly Shop in Montana - caddis patterns, of course. Rubber legs? No.

Maybe I was unbelievably brilliant in a simple sort of way, or possibly the only person stupid enough to put legs on a caddis fly.

Oddly enough, as I was pondering this over an iced green tea Monday, the next chapter in the John Gierach book I was reading was “Patterns” and as if he put this line in there specifically for me, he penned, “In fact, it’s occurred to me it would be an interesting exercise to try and tie a fly that wouldn’t catch a fish sooner or later.”

Exactly why I put those legs on.

It’s actually one of the best parts of being a fisherman. It’s why Chris tried to reconstruct corn in his kitchen, someone sprayed WD-40 on bait or used a lure that looks like nail clippers. At some point all fishermen think, “Hey, I wonder if this will work.”

After reading what Gierach had to say about patterns, I started to see them everywhere. I rode my bike to the store for apples after my green tea.

There were four different patterns of apples, all of which looked good, and since I was fully prepared to get apples, the only issue was which variety. Naturally I went with, oranges. Maybe that moment was a little like when I caught a 14-inch rainbow on a polar shrimp after watching my buddy Steve pull foot-long trout on prince nymphs every other cast. If I was smart, I would have gone with the prince, but the polar shrimp worked well enough.

Sometimes life goes like that. At times there can be more than one answer.

Take dating. Sometimes any pattern within a genre works. Some have a specific height, build, religious pursuit and future in mind, others will just take anything of the opposite sex. Some fall to expensive Atlantic salmon patterns that are pretty, but victims eventually regret their infatuation with appearance. Some go for healthy, safe patterns that more often than not are actual food. It’s the occasional one that is malicious, but it looks exactly like what they’ve always wanted.

Of course life is specific too.

The answer to exercise is not a pill or procedure. The answer to news is not some dude or organization’s blog.

The answer to fishing is not to play Wii or watching fishing shows.

But even if my caddis with rubber legs pattern is largely ignored by the fly-tying community as far as I know, I’m going to tie a few more because curious trout are sometimes better than hungry ones.