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Stoneflies / Stimulators

Stimulator and Stonefly Fly Patterns

Many successful dry fishing flies resemble more than one insect: the Stimulator is one. Depending on size and color, it makes a good Caddis fly, but it’s particularly suited to representing different species of Stonefly. Larger and darker patterns mimic Black Stonefly (also called the ‘Giant Salmon Fly’); smaller patterns in brown/olive or yellow/gold/orange pass convincingly for many others.

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More about the Stimulator

This high-riding dry fly, with or without legs, is a great all-round ‘attractor’ or ‘search’ pattern that can be used whether or not there is a hatch on. Because he helped to make it famous, it is frequently attributed to noted fly fishing author Randall Kaufmann, although not by Kaufmann himself: in his own words, he “borrowed the parts”, and “incorporated some of my favorite materials and color combinations”. Fly tyer and shop owner Jim Slattery’s name is also associated with this popular pattern, which he reportedly christened the ‘Fluttering Stonefly’ in the 1980s because of the likeness, before renaming it for NYC punk band The Stimulators. Slattery has cited Pat Barnes’ 1940s ‘Sofa Pillow’ design as his own inspiration.

Other Stonefly Patterns

Although Stoneflies usually hatch at dusk or even after dark, dry flies that imitate adults of all sizes and colors – from smaller patterns in yellow or tan, to larger ones in dark brown or black – can be effective at other times of day. Stoneflies are not strong flyers: hatchlings can flutter clumsily across the surface film to reach land; adults live their short lives close to water and can be blown back in by gusts of wind. Egg-laying females are perhaps most vulnerable as they sometimes have to slap the water’s surface with their abdomen to release their eggs. Casts and retrieves that mimic any of these behaviors can be very effective, because trout are attuned to them as an opportunity for a slightly larger meal throughout the hatching season (rather than only at certain specific times as with some other insects).

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