The 1 and Only Fly You Need to Fish Patagonia

The 1 and Only fly you need to fish Patagonia and catch boat-loads of trout, is the Woolly Bugger.



Time to stir up a little controversy with my Patagonian guide buddies. Everyone likes to tie their own flies, and they all come up with special patterns that they swear work better on certain rivers, or in one particular bend of a river, or in one pool. It’s all bovine scat. Give me an Olive Woolly Bugger, and I’ll smoke everyone in Patagonia on every river and lake you take me to. It’s just the most reliable pattern I’ve used down here, over and again, for the past 12 years.

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If I were having to travel here from afar like I did many years ago, I would bring nothing but a large selection of Woolly Buggers; most of them in an olive variant, but I’d make admission for a few of other colors. I’m not a dry fly fisherman, so don’t bore me with tiny elk-hair patterns and stuff I can’t even see at 60 feet anyway. And dipping nymphs reminds me of endless hours as a kid sitting with a cane-pole in my hands and waiting for something to happen. I’ll rip my WB’s down where the big brown trout live and accept violent strikes all day long and twice on Sundays. If I’m forced to throw floating line and a dry, (which I’m not happy doing), then I could make a case for a small box of Chernobyls. They work where everything else doesn’t on the surface.

The brown trout, rainbows, and brookies in Patagonia live in competitive conditions, and they are normally voracious feeders. Anything that looks like its alive, is placed near their vicinity, and ripped with sufficient force to make it look frightened, is a signal to attack. The waters down here tend largely to be some elegant shade of emerald-green, and the olive color takes on a very native tone under the waterline. Maybe a little flash for attention-getting, but don’t overdo it.

Fly fishing in Patagonia just doesn’t need to be so complicated. Pick something that works well in almost every environment, and keep the darn thing swimming in the water! I cringe every time I’m sitting on my terrace and watching fisherman in the lake in front of my house. They’ve paid good money to be out on the water in a nice boat with a really good guide, who has them drifting in front of untold numbers of trout; and they spend 90% of their time false-casting and 10% of the time with their fly actually in the water! With a big Woolly, I pick it up once and place it back in the water in one simple movement, and I’m covering a ton more water by working it back to the boat with every cast rather than letting it just float passively along.

So there’s my pitch for the good ole Woolly Bugger. Let the argument begin. And photos are worth a thousand words…fish patagonia with Memo Stephens

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