Funny how 'life' gets in the way of the blog. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. The striped bass are showing up at the beaches and in the bay. Pops lucked into a hot bite a few days ago, so I'm trying to follow suit (without much luck). He came up with an interesting pattern that's something like a cross between a clouser, a zug bug and something that just randomly looks like a bait fish.
So, I've spent the last few nights fiddling around in Man Cave with my various bits of fur, feather and thread trying to come up with something that will make a striped bass say *NOM NOM NOM*!!!! Once this weather gets a little better, and the tides start to coincide better with the free time I do have, I'll go give them a try. And I'll be sure to post pictures of what I made, and if any work, what worked.
Some folks get locked in to recipes or known-good patterns. I don't suspect there is anything wrong with that. After all, if pattern X worked one day, there really isn't too good of a reason it won't work on any other given day. To be honest, out of 35 or 40 patterns I take to the mountains with me, I bet there are 3 "go-to" flies in both nymph and dry patterns. The rest are what I like to call my "Here goes nothing" patterns. When the bite is slow, the weather is weird, or I can seem to make anything happen, I'll go with something I don't normally use. I might even fish that otherwise unfished pattern in an unconventional way. One season a couple years ago I was in the middle of a late June rain storm up in the Sierras. I decided to try fishing a yellow humpy as a wet fly and I'll be damned if it didn't work like a charm. Moral of the story: you never know what the fish are going to key on.
Beyond that, never assume that the pattern has to look just like the one in the catalog or just like the one the guy upstream is fishing. One of these days go turn a bunch of rocks and collect some mayfly nymphs, all the same type. Look carefully at the details. No two are really identical. There is always some bit of variation in size, color, leg development, body shape, proportion or tail length. All you have to do is get close.
It may be a bit early to hit the higher elevations, but there is still fishing to be done.