From FlyFisherman Magazine
Over the years, I have become a bigger and bigger fan of flies that solve problems. Improved patterns often start out in the mind of the tyer as a way to make a fly float or sink better, be more durable, require less maintenance or simply present a better footprint or silhouette to the fish. In some cases, one might set out to solve a single one of these issues and in the process hit on all of them. Andrew Grillos’ latest offering, the User Friendly, has done just that.
I’ve written about Andrew before, when his spectacular Low Rider Stone pattern impressed me on its debut and here he is again with yet another great problem solving pattern with a modern twist or two.
Andrew is a master of the buggy silhouette dry fly and his other patterns illustrate this point quite well. The ever-popular Hippy Stomper features a fat foam hump, heavy hackle and angler friendly wing to create a buoyant, buggy and durable pattern that pulls fish up with a non-descript silhouette that can match a variety of insects, just depending on how you hold your head when you fish it.
The User Friendly is Andrew’s answer to a slimmer mayfly profile attractor pattern and utilizes many of the same materials to produce a stealthier, but equally problem solving pattern.
Grillos starts off with a standard dry fly hook and builds a tiny ball of dubbing at the bend to help spread the synthetic tail fibers for a wider footprint. He then goes on to create a slender Razor Foam hump over a slimly dubbed abdomen that he cross-hatches with thread to add segmentation and durability. A pair of synthetic McFlylon wings are then mounted upright and divided for both fish and angler appeal, and a pair of finely barred, wiggly rubber legs are installed to create movement and surface area before a thick hackle collar is wrapped palmer style through the Ice Dub thorax. The end result is a slender pattern reminiscent of familiar flies, but with an obviously modern take on materials and design. The User Friendly is built to require little in the way of maintenance on the water, using materials that are not easily saturated, and tough, being composed, save for the hackle, of entirely synthetic components.
While the User Friendly does seem a bit more on the attractor side of the spectrum, it really does pair up well as a hatch matcher when tied in the appropriate colors. In fact, the original version was tied in yellow to match Pale Morning Duns Andrew encountered on a Montana spring Creek. He was as surprised as anyone that the slightly –burlier-than- a –Catskill-dry produced fish after fish and held up so well to the mauling. Grillos owes this to the User Friendly’s attitude on the water, sitting lower than traditional collared mayfly patterns. Andrew reasons that the flatter footprint matches up to that of the natural a bit better and I’d have to agree with his assessment. The durability of the fly was no surprise at all given its man-made components and built in buoyancy. The fly lives up wonderfully to its name, requiring little in the way of on-stream maintenance to keep it floating and presents a highly visible pair of light colored wings to the guy on the other end of the string. The fact that the fish eat it so well is the main focus for all of us, but those added attributes make it a no brainer when picking from a box of many patterns.
I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of this series. As of publication this pattern is available in a PMD version, as well as black and the purple one shown here. Andrew mentioned in our conversations something about a Green Drake version that now has my brain running wild with the possibilities. I love patterns like this that are so malleable to be twisted into other versions and the possibilities should excite all of us. We live in the good old days of fly tying and guys like Andrew are leading the way. Lucky us.