Blueberries

“I need another Blueberry,” yelled Jim Ryan.

“I need another one also," his wife, Diane responded.

. This bantering went on for an entire morning of fishing in early July on a private limestone stream in the Northeast. Both Jim and Dianne caught trout after trout on that size 12 Blueberry. Jim had one trout over 20 inches long take the pattern four times before he finally caught it. Both broke off several fish over three pounds on that Blueberry. Both Jim and Diane recently retired from Penn State University so they could spend more time traveling, hunting and especially fly fishing.

What the devil is a Blueberry? Why did this avid fly fishing couple yell for more Blueberries? The Blueberry is blue egg pattern tied with a bead and 6 turns of .010 lead that I shove up and under the bead. To get the proper shade I use Rit evening blue dye. The weight of the bead and the wrapped lead sinks the pattern quickly. The bead also suggests the yolk of the salmon egg. I’ve tied and fished the Blueberry for more than five years. Over those years it has consistently produced trout when no other pattern works.

But, does the Blueberry work consistently over a good number of rivers, streams and lakes across the country? I recently conducted a number of tests with the pattern and compared the results with five other great wet fly patterns. Those other five patterns included a cream Glo Bug, Zebra Midge, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Green Weenie and a Brassie. I cast each a 100 times in a 200 foot long pool on a private limestone stream. I used the same length and type of leader with each fly. I averaged about 6 trout per 100 casts with those other five patterns. Then I began to cast the Blueberry. On the first cast five or six trout surrounded the pattern near the bottom and one finally sucked in the pattern—on the first cast. On the second cast several trout yet again circled the fly and one hit. On each of the first 10 casts trout hit the Berry. I quit after 10 casts because the Blueberry convinced me that it was the top pattern—by a long shot—that afternoon. It reminded me of a drug trial where the drug being tested was so superior that authorities cut the test short and made the drug available to the public. I quit after 10 casts because the pattern worked so well.
Fine, so the pattern works in the Northeast. What about the rest of the country? In late March this year I fished the Salt River 20 miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. Now this was not a normal year temperature wise in the Phoenix area. In March 2004 the area experienced 21 days with temperatures over 90 degrees. Arizona Fish and Game stocked the lower Salt River for the last scheduled winter stocking on March 23. I had an opportunity to fish with two anglers from San Diego, Charley Fudge and Glenn D’arpa, and another from Green Bay, Lee Magnuson. All wanted to catch trout in this river that looks out of place in the middle of the desert. One big problem: The water temperature that morning at Phon de Sutton registered 69 degrees—at 6:30 A.M. We all knew that that water temperature would climb well into the 70’s, if not higher, by evening. Now that wasn’t bad for a river that had experienced so many 90 degree days, but, it didn’t bode well for the 500 trout the state just planted two days before.

We fished for an hour without as much as one strike. Then I moved downriver to the spot where the state planted the trout just two days before and I tied on a Blueberry. I had tried five other patterns like the Green Weenie, Zebra Midge, Bead Head Pheasant Tail and the Pink Worm in the first hour of fishing and didn’t have as much a single strike. I made the first cast with the Blueberry in that warm water—and a strike. The third cast and I had another strike. In a half hour I had on or landed six trout on that poor day of trout fishing. By 9:30 it got unbearably hot and all four of use quit. But that half hour when I used the Blueberry again proved its merits—in the middle of an early heat wave and in the middle of the desert..

I will never be without some of these patterns no matter where if fish. I usually tie the pattern on a size 12 scud hook. I tie two one inch strips of egg yarn dyed evening blue on either side of the hook that I have added a bead to and six wraps of .010 lead. I make about three turns around the middle of the shank of the hook with the tying htread and pull the thread down tightly. I move the thread just behind the bead and tie it off. I then clip the Blueberry to a round shape. I wait until I first fish the pattern to obtain perfect round ball shape. I use a scissors on stream to get that final shaping.

Will the Blueberry work for you? Ask Dave Trimble, a guide at Lee's Ferry in northern Arizona. He just caught a 24 inch rainbow on the Blueberry! Try the it and you too will find your friends yelling for more of them. It really works!


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