Neil Travis - Jan 02, 2019

The time was the last week of September 2018 and the place was a small lake somewhere in Montana. [You didn’t think I would tell you exactly where did you?] The weather was cool, the high in the mid-50’s, partly cloudy and somewhat windy. The fish in this photo was one of about 15 or so trout that I caught that day; mostly rainbows with one very respectable brook trout. They were all 16 inches or better. The largest, a nicely colored rainbow was just over 21 inches.

I also caught one respectable brook trout.

These were all caught on the same simple fly that is shown in the first image, a simple fly that I have been using for over 37 years when I first read about it in a book by Marv Taylor, Float-Tubes, Fly Rods and other essays. It was published in 1979 and I see that you can still find copies for sale on some Internet websites. Marv gives the recipe for many different flies and I’m not certain why this particular fly took my fancy, but I tied up a few and immediately began catching lots of fish on them.

The fly is simply called The Coon Bug and is called a nondescript pattern. As flies go it could not be any more basic. Tied on a 3x long hook in sixes 2-10, it is tied with red or tan thread, raccoon fur, including the guard hairs and loosely dubbed on the hook shank. I tied mine with some weight, but you can tie them without any weight and fish them on a sinking line. I retrieve them slowly, usually with a twitch or a hand-twist retrieve.

While I usually use this fly in stillwater situations it will also produce in streams. It is a good imitation of a crane fly larva but whatever the fish think it is they sure like to take a crack at it. Over the nearly four decades it has accounted for more big fish than almost any other pattern that I have ever used. Simple to tie and very successful; who could ask for anything more?

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