The Copper John. The quiz answer is red, size #16, which easily sells around 2,000 dozen (in just that one size, in just that one color) every year, not counting knock-offs and self-ties. Nobody nailed it, but M.T.E. wins the line. Hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get the line out (with yours, too, Steve C.).
Speaking of the Copper John, developed by our friend John Barr, I have a cool story to share: Barr says he basically invented the fly by accident. J.B. is big on the hopper-dropper approach, and his real “killer” fly is the Barr Emerger, an often tiny, but deadly, pattern meant to imitate PMD and BWO emergers. But that’s a light fly, and J.B. figured he needed an “intermediate,” fast-sinking nymph to get the emerger down in the strike zone. So he developed the heavy, wire-bodied Copper John, basically to serve as an anchor. The hopper-copper-dropper approach was born. And, as for the Copper John, it was, at it genesis, an afterthought, spun from necessity. But that sucker proved to catch fish in its own right, and is now a hands-down producer all over the world.
And here’s how much so: Last year, I found myself on a very remote river in Chile, with guide Ricardo Ellena. Now, in Chile, flyfishing is basically all about streamers and dry flies … nymphs aren’t nearly the rage they are here in America. But we chanced upon a juicy-looking run that seemed ripe for the hopper-dropper attack. I reached into my fly box and suggested (in broken Spanish) if we might try the nymph. My “money bug” was (of course) a Copper John … red … #16.
“Ah, Claro que si (or course),” Ricardo said, immediately recognizing the pattern. “El Cobre de Juan!”
(The Copper of John!)