Choosing a fly for yellows is fraught with options of commercial flies and options that you can tie yourself. It’s a never-ending story and there is always the hope of finding that one fly that will be the end of your search because it’s the magical one and the only one all fish want …. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Most of the time fish are pretty opportunistic and they will choose to eat a well-placed fly as a first choice, and it isn’t necessarily because you tied the evolutionary outstanding never before thought of fly. It’s just because it’s there in the right place at the right time. There are things you can do to help it get to the right place and a few things that might just help as triggers along the way that couldn’t harm your chances of enticing that hungry fish to eat your specific tasty looking morsel. That said tying flies can still be a lot of fun and the feeling of catching a fish on one of your own conceived patterns is as good as catching the fish itself.

We will never stop trying to find those amazing patterns that seem to work all the time and even for a multitude of species. I have stumbled across a pattern recently that seems to fill that niche and that with small whimsical adaptations seems to appeal to a wide range of fish including yellowfish. I recently even added carp, grass carp, catfish, and mudfish to the list of species. I don’t lay claim to the be the inventor of this concept fly and I don’t even have a name for it. You will probably be able to find something on the internet that looks like it and that has a name, but for all intent and purposes of this article, I am going to call it a “Whim Fly”.

Whim Fly you may ask? Well, the concept and simplicity just allow for the basic pattern to be changed without necessarily giving it another name and it can be changed and adapted whimsically to suit your mood, to suit the condition of your target species at that specific time of the year or the present condition that may lead you to think its needs adaptations. It’s a fly tiers dream fly and the changes you can make to the basic fly are endless.

Adding CDC seems to be a very popular way to add to a fly and adds movement and appeal to a yellowfish fly variation. This can often be an extremely well rewarded fly change. Don’t think that just yellowfish like that addition, trout love CDC as well, as I found out recently when I fished Master World Fly Fishing Championships in Italy. My standard variation with natural CDC, orange hot spot, silver bead and blue UV ribbing became my go-to fly in Italy. Obviously as an extension of that and the fact my fly box was full of them meant that without having to retie (laziness) a new box for the Vaal, that I  would use them there also. It was very well rewarded on my first few trips to the Vaal as the yellows devoured them with gusto. It wasn’t long before I started making changes to the basic pattern to suit what I believed would be good changes for the Vaal smallmouth yellowfish. The pink beads soon made their way to the patterns design and when the fish moved off those a copper bead with no hot spot came out. The hot spot was soon also experimented with and that too was changed. All these changes seemed to work and with the fly’s ability to sink quickly, the fly was catching more and more fish with its multitude of variations. The most important attributes of the fly must be the fact that with a thinly tied body and a heavy tungsten bead it sinks quickly to the optimal position in the river where yellows will be found.

One of the changes I made was to the size 18 and 20 hooks I was using. The small hooks seemed to pull frequently. Especially now that the big fish have been in the rapids, the water is clear and after swimming against the crazy flow rates of the past years they seem to be exceptionally strong. I probably will go back to smaller hooks when the water dirties and the smaller fish also begin to bite. So already there are whimsical changes on the horizon for this fly for me, but I think one thing that will remain is that this fly will very much become a fixture in my fly boxes. You just have to love the simplicity and effectiveness of this pattern, especially so for smallmouth and trout. The fly is tried with a hare’s ear dubbing as a base and meant to be a little scruffy. I would use a fine dry fly dubbing if I wanted to change this. The fly doesn’t have a tail like a traditional nymph as I believe this just slows the sink rate down and adds no real value to the fly. I doubt if it effects whether the fish eat the fly or not and is certainly not a determining factor. The fly also doesn’t have a traditional bulky tapered body of a caddis although I would argue that realistically the small Vaal caddis may look more like the profile on this fly than the traditional tie.


Jig hook #16 in this case.

Sliver 3mm slotted bead adapt to size required for best sink rate relative to your gear and your casting ability.

UV blue thin flashabou for ribbing.

Natural grey rabbit dubbing slightly coarse.

Natural or light grey CDC.

The hot spot can be made from bright coloured cotton or coloured UV resin.


Step1. Place bead on hook and a drop of resin at the back of the tie.


Step 2. Tie in and trap the UV flash.


Step 3. Use grey rabbit dubbing to make a level body or slightly tapered body.


Step 4. Tie in a few strands of CDC, you can spin them in if you like. Tie off and your fly is done.

Simplicity at its best.



Photo 1. Rabbit body and green flashabou ribbing. Bead colour whatever you think will work at that time. This green flash can be a very good attractor on the Vaal.


Photo 2. Rabbit body blue flashabou ribbing and a pink UV hot spot on the bead. You can reduce the number of beads you buy by buying different colour UV nail finish.


Photo 3. Rabbit body with copper wire ribbing and a touch of peacock dubbing behind the bead.

As you can see the options are endless and you can still use all your favourite accessories to the fly, but the base is rabbit dubbing in grey, natural or a tan. Believe me there are more options with those three colours than you will ever need on the Vaal.


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