Obscure & Unusual Flies

Box of artificial flies

Have you got any unusual flies in your box?
Image: Shutterstock

When it comes to fly patterns, the possibilities are endless and the choice can be overwhelming.

So it’s no surprise many anglers stick to tried and tested patterns, but are they missing out?

We asked some of the best fly aficionados to send us their favourite unusual fly patterns. Take a look at these unsung heroes and find a new secret weapon for your fly box.

Crab fly

From Chris Ogborne

artificial crab fly pattern

Mud Crab pattern
Image: Chris Ogborne

“Saltwater fly fishing isn’t all about sand eels and bait fish. At certain times of the year my local estuary has an influx of little shore crabs and whilst many are alive the majority die and come floating in on the tide.

The bass love them and will mop them up in great numbers, so a floating or suspended artificial can do the trick. It’s hardly mainstream fly fishing, but for a short time it can be spectacular sport in the brackish water of the salt marshes.”

Chris Ogborne has represented and captained his country on the international fly fishing stage for over twenty years.

He offers guided saltwater fly fishing and game fishing across Devon and Cornwall. Take a look at what you can expect…

The Clifton

from Nick Hart

clifton artificial fly pattern

The Clifton pattern
Image: Nick Hart

“According to legend, it was tied and used on a day when the fishing was so tough that the Bristol anglers in question were close to throwing themselves off the Clifton suspension bridge!”

“The Clifton can be found somewhere in the depths of my fly boxes and whenever it goes on the leader I am instantly confident. It’s got a bit of everything including the old Stick Fly, a little bit of Viva and the more modern day Cormorant, plus I love that trigger point red/orange head with so much movement. It’s also a top early season pattern and open to all kinds of variation, including adding a little flash to the wing or using a modern synthetic as a substitute for the seals fur head.”

Based in Somerset, Nick has been a fly fishing instructor for over 10 years. In addition to his tuition and advice, Nick offers complete fly fishing packages such as his “River 2 Rock” three day fishing holiday.

Visit Nick Hart Fly Fishing to find out more about Nick’s trips.

CDC Caddis

from Stuart Minnikin

CDC caddies artificial fly pattern

CDC Caddis pattern
Image: Stuart Minnikin

“My favourite obscure fly would have to be my CDC Caddis. It’s a fly tied with a dubbed brown body and two bunches of CDC for the wing, one tied half way along the body and the other just behind the head.

I complete the fly with a few turns of thread dubbed with CDC fibres to give a leggy appearance. I use the fly as a search pattern from early summer through to October and fish go mad for it, however, it must float very high to be effective.

If it starts to get damp and sit down it loses it’s effectiveness and should be dried or changed. It is of course good in a Caddis hatch too.”

Stuart is a fully qualified fly fishing instructor offering guided fishing trips for trout and grayling on lakes and rivers in North Yorkshire. Take a look at Stuart’s full profile here, or visit his website Yorkshire Dales Flyfishing for more information.

Gorgeous George

from James Harrold

Gorgeous George artificial fly pattern

Gorgeous George pattern
Image: James Harrold

“The Gorgeous George is a great Scottish loch pattern fished either as an out and out dry, or a pulled wet just sub surface. It also works well in this part of the world (Norfolk) and can be very effective for Stillwater Rainbows down South.

I like to tie a few slight variations, by either changing the tail colour or dressing it up with an extra hackle or two depending on the level of buoyancy required!

A very versatile and effective fly and one that is always in my box.”

James owns and runs Rocklands Mere Fishery with his wife, Katie. The fishery offers both coarse and trout fishing in Norfolk. James is a GAIA qualified instructor and offers tuition to anglers of all levels, both in the fishery and further afield. See James’ full profile here.

Visit Rocklands Mere Fishery and take a look at the stunning species available in their idyllic Norfolk landscape.

(Rogan’s) Gadget

from Paul Kenyon

rogans gadget artificial fly pattern

Rogan’s Gadget pattern
Image: Norm Frechette

“The gadget was developed by the fly-tying legend Michael Rogan in the 1960’s. Originally used as a seatrout attractor pattern, it’s widely regarded as the first ever purpose designed saltwater pattern.

Over the years, anglers have caught on to the it’s versatility as a pattern. As an alternative to the original sea trout design, the gadget can be tied much smaller as a fry pattern – very effective in deep pockets of stillwater for fry-feeding trout.”

Paul Kenyon and his fly-fishing partner, Geoff Stephens, run Fly Fishing Devon. As registered fishing guides, Paul and Geoff help beginners and experienced anglers alike to make the most of fly fishing on Dartmoor and South Devon rivers.

The Polyfitus Olive

from Phil Ratcliffe

polyfitus olive artificial fly pattern

The Polyfitus Olive pattern
Image: Phil Ratcliffe

“This Polyfitus Olive has accounted for many a Grayling and the odd trout I must say. Ideal as a point or dropper fly when fishing deep faster sections of river as the heavy tungsten bead will get you down to target the fish.”

Phil operates out of the Cheshire area, as a fully qualified APGAI fly casting instructor & fly fishing rivers guide. When he’s not out instructing, Phil’s sharing his experiences and top tips on his fishing diary blog.

Take a look at Phil’s instructor profile, or visit his website to learn more about his casting lessons and guided trips.

The International Secret

from Andrew Cartwright

international secret artificial fly

The International Secret pattern
Image: Andrew Cartwright

“A fly that works well in all sizes and water conditions, it really does seem to glow in a river that the colour is dropping out, caught some very big grayling on it.”

Situated in the Upper Severn Valley at Caersws, Andrew has been fly fishing for more than 30 years. In addition to teaching children and adults in all types of fly casting, Andrew is also available for corporate sessions.

Visit acgameangling.com to book a session, or take a look at Andrew’s blog for the latest news from his fly fishing trips in Wales.

Wobbler Tube

from Rob Waddington

wobbler tube artificial fly

Wobbler Tube pattern
Image: Rob Waddington

“Rutland warden Paul Friend developed his own Tube Fly designed for rudder fishing. The foam body helps the fly rise and fall through the water levels so covering depth. When pulled, the fly stays on the same level as the sinking line, but when left static the pattern rises up.

This up-and-down motion attracts plenty of fish. According to Paul, the foam also makes the fly wobble slightly through the water. Its success rate is tremendous with Paul catching and returning a brown trout estimated between 12 and 14lb from Pitsford in Northamptonshire.

Many of his fishing pals, including Rutland’s Senior Warden John Seaton, have also taken big fish with Paul’s pattern.”

Founder of Rutland Water Fly Fishing, Rob boasts the Silver Award for best visitor experience in the East Midlands. Find all you need to know about Rob Waddington here.

(Harold’s) Grouse & Claret

from Stan Headley

Grouse and claret artificial fly

Grouse & Claret fly pattern
Image: Stan Headley

“This was a very popular fly in Western Isles back in the ‘80s, devised by Englishman Harold Howorth. It’s very effective for sea trout and salmon.”

Stan is a Scottish National Fly Fishing Champion, and has been a professional angler and guide since 1980.

Learn more about Stan Headley here, or you can buy some of his expertly tied trout patterns from Stan’s blog.

Take the Fishtec Fly Quiz

Test your knowledge of fly tying and take the Fishtec Fly Quiz. You’ll need to know more than the basics to score high with these flies.