Don’t forget the tried-and-true in the quest for the right offering

It’s the time of year when pumpkin pie starts sounding good, but regardless of what the calendar says cherry pie always tastes good.
I’m a lot like a rainbow trout in this regard. I’ll explain.
Just outside of Angels Camp, Camp 9 Road meanders back into the foothills and eventually traces part of what used to be premium intermediate rafting water but has since become part of New Melones Lake. It’s cool back there. Most sections of the road are cut through largely untouched land, but there are those who have done their best to ruin it. The hills are steep, indicating the seriousness of the Sierra Nevada to the east.
This time of year rainbows like this area too, as Kokanee salmon head up-river to spawn providing an egg feast for the opportunistic trout. Logic told me to go with an egg pattern because the season seemed to scream it. I had no luck.
I tried a few different shades, and worked the water, but still couldn’t get a strike. Waist deep in the current I conferred with my fly box. I have a bunch of different patterns left over from trips including recommended flies from local experts from Oregon to Alaska. On page two, at the bottom was the standard bead headed prince nymph.
I put it and a single split shot on my leader and got into fish almost right away. I laughed when I brought in the first rainbow and wondered why it seems that recently I have to suffer first and work extra hard before things come together. I guess fishing is, and has to be, like that.
On the drive home I figured out why it was so logical that the prince nymph would be a mightier than the egg.  Just because it makes sense to humans that trout want to eat salmon eggs, doesn’t mean the trout are going to follow the same logic.
Trout spend most of the year eating things that don’t look like eggs. So should I be surprised that I had better luck with something that didn’t match the egg hatch? No.
The prince nymph is a classic pattern and is used widely because it works. Sometimes in the interest of being up-to-date we forget what the obvious options are. I will admit, it does sound more interesting when I say I used an obscure fly to get into fish. It makes me sound a bit more in tune with nature, trout and the galaxy as a whole. Admitting that I used a nymph that should be in everyone’s box might forfeit any bragging rights of matching a hatch or revolutionary creativity, but when the goal of fishing is to catch, why not start with what works?
Some shops put a local tweak on the prince. The River’s Edge in Bozeman, Montana, makes a tungsten prince with rubber legs. I ordered a half dozen a few years ago and make sure I have at least a few in my box at all times. It’s such a popular pattern that sometimes I have to plan ahead in case of a back-order situation.
The Fly Shop in Redding has a few variations of the prince and a dark one that is effective and durable.
Durability is key, because few things are more frustrating than being on your last pattern and having it fall apart like a $2 Vegas t-shirt.
Next time I’m at the river I know what I am starting with, because like trout, though it might be the season for pumpkin pie, cherry pie always sounds good.

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