The Best Fly Names

I wish I could conjure up a killer bug at my tying bench, sell it to the likes of Umpqua, … Continued

I wish I could conjure up a killer bug at my tying bench, sell it to the likes of Umpqua, and make a cool royalty on every pattern sold. What’s holding me up (other than my mediocre tying talent) is that I haven’t landed on a great name yet.

I mean, a fly name should have pizazz, splash, and effect, beyond feathers and fur. Okay, so there are standards, like the “Quill Gordon,” or the “Royal Wulff.” But the “naming your bug after yourself” days should be over. Bob’s Bunker… no dice. Pete’s hairy-winged caddis. Lame.

There are exceptions, of course. The most popular fly in the world, the “Copper John,” was developed by John Barr. That one is definitely worthy of a namesake. But I know JB personally, and I get the hunch that his favorite fly innovation might well be another pattern, the “Meat Whistle.” Nevermind that the Meat Whistle is more effective and fishable than an age-old classic, the Woolly Bugger. I think JB is downright giddy with the notion that, from coast to coast, people walk into fly shops and say “I’d like to buy some Meat Whistles,” and inevitably, the next question has to be: “What size are you looking for?”

Some flies are woefully under-named. The Sofa Pillow. Give me a break. When trout turn onto those mondo-sized, ugly dry flies, the last thing I think of is a cuddly pillow on my davenport. Might as well have named that one the “Slobber-Knocker.” Egan’s “Rainbow Warrior.” C’mon, Lance. That’s a killer fly that has laid waste to so many trout it isn’t funny. Why are we even thinking about Jeff Gordon or Greenpeace in this context? Disco Midge? Please.

Descriptive names do work: Egg-sucking leach. But I’d sooner buy a “Dirty ‘Ol Egg-Suckin’ Dog.” Chernobyl Ant. Great name. Anything that smacks of nuclear fallout is a winner in my book. Psycho Prince. Good. Anything with “candy” in it is wrong, with the exception of Popovic’s (Surf Candy) ties. I prefer “trout crack,” which I saw once. Gartside’s “Gurgler” is a classic, as is my all-time favorite, the “Moose Turd.”

I don’t know who invented that one. But I imagine that he finished the pattern and figured, “I could call that one Jim’s steelhead/salmon/trout bomber… but, heck, it looks like a turd. A moose turd.” Honesty trumps ego.

If you could name a fly, what would it be?

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