In November and December, I’m planning to make a series of sort of “year-end” posts going over the surprises, highlights, and lowlights of the 2019 season. One part of these series of posts will be highlights of some flies that really broke out for us in 2019. Some of these patterns are brand new, some just new to us.
Because nothing says “hopper fishing” like a rainy day in early November, I’ll start with a hopper/stonefly/attractor pattern that hit it out of the park for us in 2019: Dornan’s Water Walker.
As you can see, the basic pattern has a Chubby Chernobyl’s profile and flash, but a lower-profile wing composed of thin foam. One thing I’ll be harping on all winter is the continued trend towards sparser flies in the region, largely a result of fishing pressure I believe, and the Water Walker fits this pattern. In effect, it fulfills the same role as a Chubby does, without the big floofy wing. The thinner wing is almost as visible and buoyant as that on a standard Chubby, but it’s less obnoxious when seen from a trout-eye perspective, easier to cast since it’s less wind-resistant, and just enough different from a Chubby that it works better on fish that have seen one too many of the more-popular pattern.
We’ll be loading up on these next year. Truth be told, the shop didn’t actually stock any of these in 2019. I started using them on my own volition after seeing some in another shop and thinking they looked good. While I tried six or seven color combos, the one pictured above worked best. It’s the “Micro Peanut” variation, which is tied with dark yellow foam and a brown underbody. This was the best year for yellow-brown hopper patterns (which probably also look like Golden Stoneflies and late summer Midnight Stones) since 2008 or 2009, and this was my second-best producer after a new color mix of my Bob Hopper, and the difference may have just been the fact that I could tie the Bobs for pennies rather than paying guide price or even full retail for the Water Walkers since I didn’t have any foam thin enough to tie the wings on these.
Here’s to hoping this one isn’t a flash in the pan. I doubt it will be.