Trout Fishing photo

Within the past week or so, I’ve been invited to fish in a couple one-fly tournaments. The rules are simple: You (and your team) draw a beat on a river, and you each get to pick one fly for the day. Break it off, and you’re done. Catch the most total inches of fish, and you win. Simple.


I like one-fly competitions because most of them are charity benefits, and the “competition” part takes a back seat to the overall cause and camaraderie. I won a one-fly tournament (in Telluride, years ago, with Andrew Steketee)… and I’ve also finished well back in the pack in others. The beat you draw is key, so, unlike bass tournaments where every competitor has to find their own fish, luck is often the deciding factor. No matter how it turns out, they’re fun.

The most interesting part is deciding on that magic bug. In that Telluride competition, Andrew and I won by fishing #14 Beadhead Breadcrust nymphs (on 3X tippet) in a pocket water stretch of the San Miguel River. Perhaps the most famous one-fly event, the Jackson Hole One Fly, has been won most often in recent years with gaudy terrestrial attractor flies.

Of course, factors like water clarity, the season, and the prevailing hatches (or lack thereof) factor huge in fly selection. Then you have to decide if you’re after volume (you want to catch many smaller fish for total inches), or if you want to load up and chase big trout. No doubt, big flies attract big fish.

The more I fish streamers, the more I think that’s the safest bet. Next time out, I think I’ll go with an Autumn Splendor, with bright rubber legs, and hope I can turn some big browns off the bank. Despite its name, the Autumn Splendor seems to work wonders in all seasons, and in most water conditions. The key is to fish it tight to banks, through deep runs, and make it behave erratically, mixing fast twitches with slow, deliberate retrieves, depending on how fast the water is flowing. Think that’s a good call?

If you were to fish your own personal one-fly this weekend, what would your bug be… and why?