Update on The Patriot

As I travel across the United States giving talks about fly fishing I get plenty of questions about tying the Patriot. I first used the pattern in 1985 and it has proved to be an effective fly across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina.

Just this past year in Labrador, and in the middle of the day, a size 10 Patriot dry fly caught huge brook trout when no other pattern worked. Steve McDonald and I caught a half dozen heavy brook trout each over 5 pounds on the Minipi River one afternoon on the Patriot. We continued to catch trout on that attractor pattern until a heavy brook trout broke off the last one we had with us.

In New Zealand 12 of the 13 largest trout Mike Manfredo and I caught took a size 12 Patriot dry fly. The Patriot became synonymous with success in that tremendous island nation.

And the pattern had proved its merits in the United States. It works well on all rivers and streams across the United States—even the streams of the Southwest. Trout in the streams and rivers near the Phoenix, Arizona, have especially shown favor to the Patriot. Yes, I said near Phoenix. Even people who have lived here for years don’t realize that they have fly-fishing opportunities near their home. The Salt River has plenty of hatches and rising trout and a bottom release in the middle of the hot summer.

Just recently on the Salt River, in January, I used the Patriot as a strike indicator in the tandem setup and caught several trout. I used a weighted Glo Bug as the wet fly and the Patriot as the dry fly. In two hours of fishing I caught 30 trout. Two of those fish took the Patriot dry fly on top.

As I’ve repeatedly said throughout this and many other articles that I’ve written about this fly, I use the Patriot dry fly as a strike indicator when there’s no hatch on the water in a tandem setup. There are many ways you can use the tandem—it’s one of the most useful techniques a fly fisher can learn. You can use two or more wet flies, two or more dry flies or a combination of both in the setup. I most often use a dry fly as the lead fly and a wet fly as the point fly (the fly farthest from the reel). I tie the Patriot on a 4 or 5X tippet (sometimes even a smaller tippet) and connect a wet fly like the Glo Bug, Green Weenie, Bead Head Pheasant Tail or Bead Head Caddis to the dry. I add weight to the wet fly patterns (except for the Zebra Midge). On most patterns I add five to nine wraps of .005 or .010 lead to the body of the wet fly when I tie the pattern. Again, I use a 4 or 5X tippet to connect the wet fly to the dry fly. I most often start with a two to three foot connection, but if the water is fast, deep or cool I’ve often make the distance between the two flies more than three feet. On the other hand if I’m fishing an emerger to trout that are taking that phase of the mayfly I might shorten the distance between the two flies to one to two feet. I connect the tippet of the wet fly to the bend of the hook of the dry fly with a clinch knot. To make the knot twist the leader six or seven times with you hand and bring the end through the loop you’ve created. There’s no need to make an improved clinch knot. If you twist the leader material six or seven times it will be as strong or stronger than an improved one. Place that loop on the bend of the hook of the dry fly and pull tight.

It takes a bit of practice to get accustomed to casting with the two patterns. But, once you do you’ll find it extremely easy to cast and effective way to catch trout.

Tying the Patriot

The Patriot is an easy pattern to tie. Some tiers have trouble with the smolt blue Krystal Flash coming back over the bend of the hook when the pattern is completed. To prevent the material from doing this leave one of the strands of the Krystal Flash back at the tail as you wind the other four halfway up the bend of the hook. Tie off the four strands with your fluorescent red orange tying thread. Then bring the one strand remaining at the back up and over the other strands already wrapped. Tie in that last piece in the middle of he shank (where you’ve tied in the other four).

Try the Patriot—especially when there’s no hatch to match and especially when you’re using a tandem. You’ll find that the pattern is easy to follow, floats well and it catches trout.

Dressing: Patriot
Hook: size 12 to 18, Mustad 94833
Thread: Bright orange red fluorescent 6/0
Tail: Brown hackle fibers
Body: Five strands of smolt blue Krystal Flash with a midrib of the tying thread in the middle of the shank Wings: White calf hair, divided
Hackle: Brown

Read more about using the Patriot and the tandem in my latest book How To Catch More Trout. Order the book from Amazon.com by clicking on “Books” on this web site.

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