From Issue Three of the Gear Patrol Magazine.
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For an animal that follows a constant set of behaviors, a fish can be a damn hard creature to figure out. Its eating habits change according to water temperature, air pressure, time of day, lunar calendar and year — and even then, some days even the best fisherman just can’t tell what they’re eating, or not eating, and why.
With so many variables, it’s no wonder the “go-to lure” is revered among fishermen. Its status is earned, most simply, because it works when nothing else will. But it’s more than that. Such lures are deeply personal. Most have a story — something fishermen treasure above most else. To compare and contrast them is a visual and anecdotal lesson in fishing’s greatest hope, and its last prayer.
Shakespeare Big S
“Before I started fishing with a TV crew, it was all about keeping everything within the luggage limit. So the space I had for lures was very limited, just a small plastic snap-top box that held a couple of these and a few others.” — Jeremy Wade, Host of River Monsters
Worden’s Joe Thomas Pro Series Rooster Tail, 1/2 Ounce, Glitter Chartreuse
“This lure is mostly overlooked by bass anglers. Its weight allows me to throw it a great distance, which is very important in clear water. This special version I designed has upgrades, like an oversized nickel treble hook, real chicken-feather tail and a stainless steel split ring that adds flexibility so bass don’t tear the hook free when they jump and thrash.” — Joe Thomas, Host of Stihl’s Reel in the Outdoors with Joe Thomas
Lefty’s Deceiver, Light Chartreuse with Darker Chartreuse Topping
“Many fly fishermen around the planet have created variations of this pattern in both natural and synthetic materials, then renamed it. While some tiers get upset when others rename their flies, I know it’s a Deceiver and complaining doesn’t change anything, so I shrug it off.” — Lefty Kreh, Legendary Fly-Fishing Instructor and Writer
My Brown Floating Nymph
“I came up with it when I was fishing during a hatch. The fish were popping, and my faithful patterns were not even getting looked at. I looked at the water and saw this little black speck standing straight up. I grabbed it; it was the wing of a Hendrickson, and that was it. The wing was above the water, but the nymph was below. I went back to the cabin and tied this one: trailing shuck, a little brown dubbing, extra-fine copper wire.” — Joe Rist, Catskills Fly-Fishing Guide
“It’s just a really oily fish. Everything in the ocean eats it. I’ll chop it up for chum, or cube it for smaller fish. For larger fish, like amberjack, I use a steak from a three-quarter-pound mackerel, hooked just above the spine.” — Mark Marhefka, Commercial Fisherman
Enrico Puglisi’s Everglades Special
“In 2014, I fished this fly specifically, the full year, for everything. I fished for permit in Mexico, tarpon in Florida, trout in Idaho, salmon and trout in Alaska, bass in South Carolina and redfish and other various saltwater species in my home waters in Charleston, South Carolina. I ended up catching twenty-four different species throughout the world and fished it all different ways.” — Paul Puckett, Fly-Fishing Guide and Artist