Pink Flies: Do They Work for You?

The more you fly fish, the more you realize there are some things that you will never really figure out. One mystery that's been bugging me for quite a while is why the color pink works so well on certain flies, but not necessarily on others. And why does pink work in certain places better than others?

For example, I've used pink terrestrial flies like Chernobyl Ants and Club Sandwiches in Colorado now and then. I never really had much luck with them. Compared to a plain tan hopper fly, perhaps with red or green accents, it seemed to me that when I threw pink, the trout not only ignored the bug, it sent them swimming the other way.

A few weeks ago while fishing the Driftless Area in Wisconsin, it was almost the complete opposite situation. I could throw a tan or green hopper, and it got bit now and then, but switching to pink lit the fish up.

Pink must look special in certain light. I have found that when pink works, it's usually on bright days, and in clear water. In stained water, it seems to me that fish are keyed more on profile than they are color. But that's just a hunch.

Except, that is, in the case of the hot pink San Juan Worm. There's another mystery. If you had to pick one fly to fish, the pink worm wouldn't be a bad call anywhere--at least not if you are willing to concede that the San Juan Worm is really a fly in the first place. I know that rains will push annelids into the water during runoff or after storms. Trout see those worms and think they're T-bone steaks. Pure protein. But none of the worms are naturally hot pink. I try wine colored worms, chartreuse worms, red worms, tan worms, brown worms, and many other colors. Nothing produces for me like hot pink.

I've been scuba diving with trout as my friends drifted different colored worm patterns to trout. Pink gets the most attention. That's kind of a riddle though, because we know that certain colors of the spectrum are absorbed as the water gets deeper. So after a few feet, the pink worms don't really pop. Even a foot or two down, they don't seem nearly as bright as they do when you hold them in your hands above the surface. There still has to be some kind of light factor that makes pink flies work better than other flies of the same shape and size, but different colors. Pink is definitely an attractor.

At least in certain places. And in certain conditions. And I don't really know why.

I'd be interested in your theories, and if pink produces where you fish, or if you think pink flies are more effective in catching anglers than they are at catching trout.