Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Mop Fly: Love It or Hate It?

The mop fly, never in my experience as a fly fisherman have I seen a fly bring up so much controversy among fly among anglers. The Green weenie debates were good, but the mop or the squirmy wormy leads the charge these days. Sure the mop fly kind of falls into that dirty/cheater type fly category but let’s all face it, the thing works. Are heated debates, losing friendships, angry posts really necessary to bicker about a fly pattern? It is a fly, right. Well depending on what side of this debate you fall under, you may not consider it a fly. I want to express how my love/hate relationship for this fly pattern evolved, and how I feel about it today. I hope to maybe end some of these debates, and maybe enlighten some of you reading this.

In the beginning when I first learned of this pattern I hated it. I couldn’t find a way to make my mind think it represented any real insects that I found on the stream. Maybe a chartreuse colored mop fly with a black collar could be considered a morbidly obese caddis larva. I could construde it to be a cranefly larva in tan, cream, or grey, but even that was a stretch. I wouldn't tie it, and I wouldn't fish it. Nope, this sorry excuse for a fly pattern would never be found on the end of Michael P. Richardson's fly rod.

The mop really didn't match my style of fishing. I find that I get the most enjoyment out of fly fishing when my flies are matching insects that are living in the water I’m fishing. Flipping rocks, checking caddis cases, etc. are all parts of fly fishing that I enjoy most.  I nymph fish 99% of the time so my whole fly fishing world revolves around insects. I will admit that I really only fish 6-8 suggestive nymphs and catch trout pretty much on any stream I fish. These patterns produce any day of the year as well. So this kind of made me realize that the flies I use are just vague representations of an insect. None of the main flies I use are tied to match any of these particular insects exactly. I don’t “match the hatch” very often so why am I hating on the mop fly?

The fly pictured above is my peeping caddis pattern. I slam a pile of fish on this fly year after year, season after season, but let’s think about that. Sure the pattern suggests a cased caddis, but I don’t see many caddis larva on the waters I fish that chartreuse in color. So to a fish, is it thinking “yum a cased caddis” or is it more along the lines of “bright color, I’m gonna eat it”

I soon found myself realizing that there really was no reason to hate on the mop.  A fly by my definition is: a fishing lure constructed around a hook using thread, feathers, fur, and synthetic materials to represent something that a fish would like to eat. By my own definition the mop fly is a fly. I can not see any reason that one could think other wise. Sure a lot of other patterns are more fun and more labor intensive to tie, but a fly is a fly in my book these days.

This made me start to dig deeper in my own mind as to why I was hating the mop fly. I really could not bring up any real reasons. Sure it is an easy pattern to tie, but then again so is a Walt's Worm but no one dare hate on that pattern. Why is there no hatred out there towards the Walt's Worm? It's a classic, Right? If the blind hate exists because the pattern is easy to tie, then surely these haters should be targeting a Walt's Worm. In essence, all that is to a Walt's Worm is rabbit dubbing wrapped around a hook with either a bead or a thread head. That's it! That pattern takes less than 45 seconds to tie. Sure you can make it a bit more complex and add weight, or some sort of flashy ribbing, and get a "Sexy Walt's Worm", but the Walt's Worm may be the easiest pattern to tie.


So surely the hatred towards this pattern is not based on how easy it is to tie. Maybe it is because the body material is synthetic. No, if that was the case the Rainbow Warrior pattern would be dismissed and have shade thrown at it as well. Hmmmm, I know what it is then. It is because it doesn't really look like anything in the water. Well, then we should dismiss the Humpy, Royal Coachman, and Purple Haze dry flies then too. Maybe some fly fisherman are worried that the mop will out perform their tried and true patterns. I really can't narrow it down, and maybe some of you can help me. The point I am trying to make on this is that there is no real reason to hate this pattern. I would love to find a valid reason to justify my prejudice towards this pattern but I can't.

So there you have it. You have seen the views from both sides of "The Great Mop Fly Debate".  I will admit that I have become a changed man once I realized I was blindly hating on a fly pattern. At first I had anxiety tying the mop. My mind was on sensation overload because I was tying something that did not resemble and insect. Now I find myself using it more often. I still catch fish on nymphs, and it is not like the mop fly is the only fly I fish. I kind of use it when my nymphs aren't working so well, but know there are fish in a hole. Sometimes it works and some times it doesn't as true with any fly. I can not fail to mention that there is no better nymph on the planet to catch native brook trout in Pennsylvania than the mop fly.

I challenge those of you who clicked this link for the sole reason that even the mention of the word mop fly makes your blood curdle, to give this fly a chance. Look deep into your mind, and find the exact reason that you hate this fly, but don't hate on others that are similar. If you find that reason, please comment it in the comment section of this post or shoot me a message to help me understand your point of view. I promise you this though, ending your hate for this pattern will make you feel a lot better, and may also add a few more fish in your hands.

Here is a tutorial video on how I tie my mop flies. I did this video using a scud hook, but this pattern is also tied on jig hooks, and barbless competition hooks. I prefer to use the barbless competition nymph hooks. You can really use any combingation of bead, dubbing, or mop material, but here is the recipe as shown:

Richardson Mop Fly Version
Hook: Size 12 Daiichi 1120 Curved Nymph hook
Bead: Risen Fly Fishing 2.8mm tungsten bead in black
Thread: Danville 140 denier black
Body: Chartreuse Mop Fly Body Material
thorax: Hareline Dubbin Hare Tron Dubbing Black

 I hope this tutorial can help those of you who may be interested in giving this pattern a try. Key things to remember on tying this fly the way I do it are as follows:

1) be sure to remove fibers from the mop to your desired body length. This will create less bulk and give you a more secure wrap on the material around the hook bend.

2) Uses Loctite Automotive super glue "Gel Control" under your dubbed thorax. When you finish your whip finish, squeeze the dubbing to be sure the glue gets out into the pores of the dubbing material. There is no ribbing over that dubbing. To keep the fly durable, and to help it hold up better to a fish's teeth, I apply the glue. This is not 100% necessary, but IMO really extends the life of your fly.

TIGHT LINES! Be sure to click follow, or subscribe if you would like to keep up with the Tying Shed!


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