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Salmonfly.Net Salmon and Steelhead Fly Tying Guide  In Memory of Yuri Shumakov 

Ard Stetts Series

The Evolution of the Answer - by Ard Stetts

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Large Brown taken on The AnswerThis one isn't in your book. You wont find it in your buddies fly wallet either. This style of tie and the materials were the culmination of many years of experimentation with the wild brown trout of Central Pennsylvania's spring creeks. I spent more years fishing for wild brown trout than any other species of fish. Like many others I lusted after larger and larger fish so the natural course of progression was to fish streamer flies for them. 

I was not a big fan of night fishing so I knew that I needed a pattern that would perform in the early mornings and rainy days under the scrutiny of some very educated fish. Fishing is not unlike a go at an online casino. It's part luck, part skill, and part strategy! Having caught many fish on feather wing streamers I began to think along the line of a streamer that would look more like a brown trout par than any patterns that were available in any of my books. The first step was to capture some baby brown trout. One of my favorite little brooks was a perfect theater for watching the fish in their habitat and for catching a few in the puddles created after each high water incident. I used a standard aquarium net and placed the study specimens into clear mason jars. This was useful for observing the par but I knew I needed to get more in depth in my study of the immature brown trout as a source of prey for larger fish.

The AnswerI decided to use my swimmers goggles and the captive par in the clear jars and to go under water during the same light conditions as I intended to fish my creation in. I used this process down to depths of about four feet and rationalized that although a trout’s eye admittedly perceives light and color differently that the human eye if the profile and color looked similar to me then I deducted that it may in fact appear close to the fish also. I used the principal of visual similarities as my guide and went forward with choosing materials and concocting flies. Please bear in mind that I am talking about ‘wild’ baby trout that are quite colorful by the time they are three to four inches in size. After experimenting with many different materials that I had at my disposal I developed the pattern that is displayed here in this issue. The finished product when held in current on a tippet alongside the jar containing the actual young brown trout most closely mimicked the par fish. The results when I began fishing it stand alone as the most productive brown trout streamer I ever used.

The Answer WetThrough the years the fly proved to be almost fool proof on Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek, Penn’s Creek, & Fishing Creek all limestone springs along with countless freestone streams that hold wild trout across America. The most important test came in the mid 1990’s when I began fishing just below the bridge at the Bonny brook Quarry on the Letort Spring and caught my first Letort fish on the Answer in the swift water down stream from the bridge and fooled seven more by the time I had passed through Marinaro’s Meadow’s and stopped at the I 81 overpass. I considered this to be the acid test for the pattern because I know of no harder place to find and fool a brown trout with a streamer fly than the Letort Spring. Sadly this monument to American trout fishing (Letort) has become only a shell of what I found there on my first visit to the place in 1977.

If you are a fly tier and an accomplished streamer fisherman I would suggest that you try to replicate this pattern as closely as you can and fish it wherever you know there to be wild ‘Salmo Trutta’.

The Pattern

The Answer


Ard Stetts

Ard Stetts was born in north central Pennsylvania, but now resides in Alaska. He has been tying classic Salmon, Landlocked Salmon and Featherwing Trout Streamers for 35 years and has learned from some of the best.  Also see The Flies of Ard Stetts.


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