When nymphing “big” water, fishing an attractor style fly can increase your catch rate significantly. An attractor style fly can be interpreted in a variety of ways, but the important function of it is to grab attention. This can mean bright colors, bigger sized flies, and movement within a fly (i.e. rubber legs, soft hackle). Depending on the water conditions, fish will sometimes key in on the attractor fly and eat it actively. This is typically when water clarity is low. However, even if fish are not eating the attractor fly—often times in clear water conditions—the attractor fly can still serve its purpose. During clear water conditions I like put 1 or 2 "natural" flies behind the attractor. This way, even if a fish investigates and ultimately refuses your attractor, you will have a great chance of the fish eating your more natural offerings behind it.
The above rainbow was caught on a natural PMD pattern trailed behind a bright orange scud. At 2,200 cfs fishing proved tough until an attractor style fly was added to the set-up.
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