Attractor Flies Versus an Exact Imitation – Randall Kauffman

Randall Kauffman Stimulator fly tied by John Hey
Randall Kauffman Stimulator fly tied by John Hey

Attractor Flies Versus an Exact Imitation

Dry fly fishing is the easiest form of fly fishing. You don’t need fancy strike indicators or split shot needed in nymph fishing. Don’t get me wrong, nymph fishing is just as effective, and more so in deep water, but we will get into that in a later article.

With most of us getting less fishing time it is a lot easier to pick up your rod and fish a dry fly, and within an hour or two you have your timing and skills honed. In nymph fishing, I find that it takes a day or two till you get back in the groove. I suppose you could stick an indicator on but I would rather use a dry fly.

I heard somewhere once that nymph fishing with an indicator was like worm fishing. When dry fly fishing you can see everything, what the fly is doing where the current’s taking the food. You get to see the fish take the fly whether it’s a dimple rise of a cunning old brown or a smashing rise of a sleek rainbow.

Randall Kauffman Stimulator fly (colour variation) tied by John Hey. Attractor Flies.
Randall Kauffman Stimulator fly (colour variation) tied by John Hey.

When you get to the river or lake will there be a rise in progress? As most of the time fish will be feeding below the surface anyway. But, with the right fly over the years, I have caught more fish on dry flies even when my companions were nymphing.

It’s not always easy to match the hatch; a lot of the time there’s no hatch to match. Most of you would put on a nymph, maybe a hare and copper, and it would be a good choice, it also being a generalist pattern imitating many things but this article is on Attractor dries.

The first that would spring to mind would be the Royal Wulff, the cream doughnut of dry flies – no matter how much you’ve eaten it’s too tempting to let pass! Another pattern is the humpy. As we tie our own flies we can vary the body and hair colours to simulate many insects. When you are matching the hatch you wait and cast to a fish that you’ve spotted rising but with attractor flies, you can cast randomly, a free license to almost cast willy-nilly but the experienced angler will be casting flies over likely pockets, covering all the areas that should hold fish.

Take most of our favourite rivers as they change with each flood, what better way to search the water than with a dry fly. Knowledge of what hatches should be occurring at a given time will narrow down your choices of patterns.

A few seasons ago I was offered a shipment of flies that an­other shop didn’t want. In amongst them were some adult stonefly dries. I bought a couple for future reference, thinking I may be able to adapt them to my spots. They stayed in my fly box until one day on the Ahuriri River. I was looking for a fly to put on when I saw the two flies sitting there. On went the size 10. I cast out to the far bank and it started to drift. Up came a small rain­bow and nailed the fly. Over the course of the afternoon, I caught and released four nice fish, all on the stonefly.

Now I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a lot of adult stoneflies on the rivers. However this pattern is a good imitation for caddis, cicadas, grasshoppers, and in smaller sizes hatching mayflies. Attractor flies have in their makeup something that trig­gers the thought of food in the mind of trout!

I choose colours depending on the time of the season. I even tied one for lakes incorporating peacock herl. Lake fish seem to go for the iridescence of the herl. Try bigger flies for the early season and faster water.

I tend to change flies more often as you have to find the right combination when fishing attractor flies, a good long drag-free presentation is just as important as your cast.

The name of this fly is a Simulator and was invented by Randall Kauffman and I have seen this fly even tied with rubber legs recently. The fly is tied on a hook that has a slight curve in the shank and a straight eye, a model Kamasan has in B220. I like it in sizes 10 and 12.

Start by tying in a tail of deer hair. You can also use elk or moose. The tail is tied in small. I also tie in at this stage some copper wire to make the fly more durable and also a hackle, but this needs to be from a dry fly cape or a saddle.

In the next stage, I dub a body of pale yellow seal’s fur and dub to a point two thirds down the shank leaving room for the thorax. After dubbing the body wind in even sections along the body and tie off. Follow this by winding the wire over the same sec­tions as the hackle and also tie off. At this stage take some more deer hair and tie in a wing, as in an elk hair caddis.

Also tying down the butts of the hair, tie in two hackles one furnace and one grizzly, same as in the Adams. Now dub in some more seal’s fur but this time I dub a different colour, either a contrasting brown or red. Wind both hackles in together. Now what I forgot to say was that at the time of winding in your wire through the hackle, don’t cut it off. Take it back to your material clip and bring it through the last two hackles and tie off the same as you did on the body and tie off and cement.

This fly has also taken trout on lakes during a dragonfly hatch so don’t hesitate to try your own.

YouTube video

Stimulator Fly Tying Video Instructions – Randall Kaufmann Fly Pattern

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