A Guide’s Advice on Fishing Your Go-To Fly Pattern

Written by: Mike Canady of Ellensburg Angler


The rainbow trout of the Yakima just love the Pat’s Stone.
Photo by Mike Canady

Meet the Pat’s Stonefly (a.k.a. Pat’s Rubberlegs, Pat’s Stone, or just Pat’s). But it’s not just a Pat’s Stonefly; it’s my go-to confidence fly. It’s a key factor in any success I have when fishing, even when I am not catching fish. I usually have a this fly tied on at the beginning of the day.

Fishing has so many variables: water temperature, water color, weather, wind, hatches, and lots of others. We spend countless hours trying to put the puzzle pieces together and get a clear picture of what is going on under the water. As with any puzzle, the first couple pieces of the puzzle are always the toughest.

This is where the Pat’s Stonefly comes into play. It’s easier to start by eliminating pieces that aren’t working and narrow down the possibilities.

To do this, you need to have confidence in the fly you are fishing. By using the fly that you are most comfortable with, you will always have that feeling in the back of your head that you have caught fish on that fly before and you will definitely fish more.


The creation of Idaho guide Pat Bennett, this pattern works wherever trout live.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t always start with a Pat’s Stonefly but it really does work on our home water, the Yakima River, as well as on lots of other rivers throughout the country. If I head to a new river and I am not exactly sure what to fish, you will usually find a Pat’s stonefly tied on my nymphing rod. Obviously, if I see a hatch coming off or have some great intel from a local fly shop on what the hot fly is, I will always take their recommendation.

But here is something else to think about: have you ever had one of those special days when your confidence fly isjust catching fish left and right? This is going to sound crazy, but that is the day you should take off that confidence fly and switch up the pattern and try something new, to see if you can find a different fly that will work. By trying a new pattern during great fishing, you might just find a new go-to fly, plus when the fishing is great that is the time to start experimenting with new patterns to see what will really just not work.


When you find your go-to pattern, make sure you stock up.
Photo by Mike Canady

I am guessing that if you have been fishing for any length of time you probably have a few boxes of flies that you have accumulated over the years, and I bet you that if you dig around those boxes you will find that you have quite a few flies that you just don’t use anymore. Some are probably older patterns that used to really work great, but for some reason there has been some new fancier patterns that have come out that you like better. Trust me: those new flies are great, but sometimes those old-school flies work just as well.

What is your Pat’s Stonefly?

Mike Canady is the owner of Ellensburg Angler, the 2016 Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Outfitter of the Year.

10 thoughts on “A Guide’s Advice on Fishing Your Go-To Fly Pattern”

  1. Mine’s a stonefly as well. Just a black one, size 8 or 10 or something like that; big but not huge.
    Fish just like eating them. Even if I’m just using one for the beads to sink another nymph, the stone gets a take just as often.

  2. Double nymph rig. On top a size 16 BH Pheasant Tail with a size 18 dropper. The dropper is a simple UV pattern I came up with myself. That combo kills in Upstate SC.

  3. I’m a warmwater/saltwater guy. And when bass/pickerel/bowfin fishing, my go to is the CK Baitfish pattern. It’s a fluke for the fly rod. I tried it out for the first time last year on the advice of the guys from Orvis Richmond. Slinging it under overhanging bushes, past logs, and along ledges and dropoffs, it gets murdered time and time again.

  4. I tie a rubber-legged stonefly nymph that’s very similar to Pat’s. It’s one of my go-to flies and produced the biggest trout I’ve ever caught. Oddly, I’ve never caught a single fish on it where I fish most often: the White River Tailwater below Beaver Dam. In that water, my go-to is a size #18 midge…Ruby or Root Beer. The water’s crystal clear with very little current (when it’s wadeable). Tiny flies and tiny tippet are consistent producers there.

  5. Great article. I like the piece of advice about when the fishing is hot. As someone who’s self taught and relatively new to fly fishing (going on my third season now), learning what doesn’t work when things are good will give me insights when things aren’t working. One time I had a crazy good day on zebra midge, it was easy, then most days they weren’t touching it. It’d be good to know what else worked when the zebra midge was working too. It’d help me develop tiers of flies I like to use and which I have the most confidence in, and when those aren’t working, I can begin to step down to those others I’ve had success with as well on those good days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *