Can we really say that hackle color, at least for 'collar' type hackle on dry flies, really matters?
After looking at JCs stuff on how the fly looks from underwater, and looking at some 'real' bugs, I just can't believe it matters a whit to the fish.
Body color, maybe. Wings? The silhouette may matter, but it gets pretty distorted, and the color? Not sure but I'd doubt it.
AND, JCs pics were taken in 'smooth' water. Add broken water to the equation, and the distortion increases to the point where shape and color are just 'indicated' as far as the fish are concerned.
If those theories are correct, the fish has to have decided to come to the fly BEFORE it can see the colors, or much else, clearly.
It wouild seem to me that since the collar style hackle is inteneded to 'support' the fly on theater, and give the 'impression' of legs by dimpling the water, the 'best' possible color would be 'clear' with a few dark strands thrown in so that it will 'look' like legs to the fisherman (the trout won't see that?).
We don't, however, have ANY idea 'how' a trout 'sees' anything, much less the relationship to how we 'see' and how a fish does.
Anyway, the 'rule', if there is one in fishing, is that confidence is the most important part of an anglers tackle. Thus, if it matters to the 'fisherman' it certainly matters to the fish. I like pretty flies, so I like the variant hackles because they are pretty and tie nice flies.
I can't, however, be convinced on available evidence that it 'matters' to the trout.
It Just Doesn't Matter....