August 09, 2016
By Jonathan Wright
Every once in a while, there comes along a development that galvanizes the fly fishing community. Seventy-five years ago, monofilament leaders hit the market. In the late 70s, it was carbon fiber rods. Breathable waders and tungsten beads that replace lead are some of the latest innovations that I can think of that have really raised the bar and improved the experience.
But sometimes, something grabs the fly fishing consciousness that is so essentially lacking in any redeeming qualities—other than catching fish like crazy—that it ignites controversy and stirs people up at a base level.Think of the response to Punk Rock near the end of the golden age of Heavy Metal and you get the idea. The following fly pattern is just such an animal: Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you .... The Mop Fly.
The mop may be the world's easiest fly to tie, but also helped win the US national championships in the hands of veteran guide Lance Egan, cleaning up the competition.
Constructed out of the microfiber dreadlocks that are being incorporated into dollar-store mop heads and drying cloths, the Mop Fly wiggles when wet, with some enthusiasts saying it is their most effective trout fly ever. Detractors in online discussion groups seem decidedly less complimentary, claiming injury to their sense of aesthetics and generally expressing a visceral response. Most experts are loathe to even talk about it on the water, much less admit to using them.
"I'm sorry guys, but I absolutely hate the mop," said one keyboard warrior. "I was fishing late summer one time and was doing ok and decided to try a mop for the first time. I watched fish that weren't even feeding go out of their way to eat it. No matter if I dragged it, made a good drift, left it dangle in the current while I waded upstream, fish were literally moving 3 ft or more to eat it. It is definitely a deadly fly, but it required no skill, drift, or any of the technical aspects that makes fly fishing challenging and great."
"Forget the Squirmy. Forget the egg flies. The Mop Fly is the most sinful fly of all time," says a headline on the Flymen Fishing Co. web site.
"Yes, I know, this one really pushes the envelope in terms of good taste, but trout can't seem to resist it," said Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions in his instructional video for a variation he called the Mop 'n' Glo.
All of which makes this a supremely interesting topic for debate, I think. What are the acceptable limits of fly design? Synthetic fibers used to seem to be ok, but plastics and rubber were generally not. Unless we were talking bass, pike or salt water...