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


Nope, this is not a gag—it’s a real fly, available from actual tackle shops. Basically, Georgia-based fly tier Kevin Griffin took the venerable Stimulator dry fly, stripped it down a little, and stuck the fly equivalent of a clown nose on it. It’s original, creative and simple, making it one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. Let me explain.


On its own, the original Stimulator is a proven general use dry fly. Since it’s long, bushy and floats well, the Stimulator is also popular in hopper-dropper rigs, with a nymph suspended below it. Owing to its dull colours, however, the Stimulator can be hard to see on the water, and in order to fish any surface fly well (with or without a dropper), you need to be able to see it. Of course, you can also fish a nymph under an easy-to-spot strike indicator, but the third or fourth time you see an overly enthusiastic trout take a whack at your indicator, you’ll want to exchange it for something with a hook. And that’s what the Griffin’s Stimicator is—a strike indicator that’s also a lethal fly in its own right.

  • HOOK: Curved-shank 2XL dry-fly hook, sizes 8 to 10
  • TAIL: Deer or elk hair
  • BODY: Palmered brown hackle over sparse yellow dubbing (or just yellow tying thread)
  • WING: Deer or elk hair, over few strands of pearl Krystal Flash
  • HEAD: Round foam strike indicator, 5/16- or ¼-inch diameter
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