The uglies: 9 flies that aren’t pretty, but catch a whole lot of fish

The uglies

These flies may not be easy on the eyes, but they sure do a beautiful job of catching fish


I don’t have much in common with trout. Our evolutionary paths diverged some 400 million years ago when my distant ancestors crawled out of the sea, and theirs stayed behind. But we both love eggs, and for the same reasons: An egg is a morsel of pure protein, and it doesn’t see you sneaking up behind it, either.


There’s a lingering prejudice against egg flies, partly because they’re so dopey looking, especially my favourite version. Most egg flies are a tidy sphere, representing a single egg, but I like the blobby version pictured here, and not just because it resembles the hairdo of a certain recent American president. Since steelheaders fish blobby little bags holding a bunch of roe, I figure why not use a fly imitating a clump of eggs, instead of a single one.

Egg flies work during much of the season, likely because various species living in a waterbody spawn at different times, and eggs are drifting around more often than we might assume. And if you have two thumbs and two fingers, you can easily tie one. They’re just tufts or loops of yarn, fluffed out and trimmed into shape, whether it’s a uniform sphere or a blob.


  • HOOK: Short-shank wet fly, sizes 8 to 14
  • BODY: Yellow, orange, pink or red yarn
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