The hares ear nymph earned comeback fly of the year honors in 2016. Of course it never fell very far from the top, but I definitely favored the salvation nymph over the hares ear in 2015. I suspect the hares ear never stopped producing, and instead I elected to allow other flies to occupy my line more than usual. At any rate I enjoyed some fabulous days throughout the season with a size 16 beadhead hares ear nymph dangling from my line.
If you read back through my hares ear nymph blog posts from 2010 and 2011, you will realize that this workhorse fly was my unquestionable number one up until the summer of 2015. I increased my beginning of the season quota from thirty to one hundred during this period. There were several seasons when I consumed my entire inventory, and this forced me to tie more during the season. When the weather is suitable for fishing, I detest sitting at my tying desk producing flies.
During the summer of 2015, however, I fell in love with the salvation nymph. The new favorite was akin to a new car with lots of flash, and the trout agreed with me. During numerous summer fishing trips, the fish attacked the salvation nymph like sharks attracted by the scent of blood. I nearly depleted my salvation nymph supply during 2015 and increased my beginning inventory to sixty.
I began 2016 with a similar mindset, and I preferentially knotted the salvation nymph to my line to the detriment of the hares ear nymph. Fortunately in many instances I fished the hares ear and salvation in a two fly combination, and during these instances I discovered that the trout showed a distinct preference for the hares ear. This was significant, because during most cases I positioned the hares ear as the top fly. Historically the end fly of a two fly system produced more fish, because it displayed more movement compared to the top fly, which is constricted due to line tension above and below.
Trout choosing the hares ear over the salvation during two fly presentations was a strong sign that the old standby was returning to most favored status, but the true clincher was two spectacular days of fishing on the South Platte River in May. I landed nearly 120 fish on May 12 and May 13, and 90% of these catches consumed the beadhead hares ear. These two days restored my confidence in the beadhead hares ear, and it returned to the top of my list. For the remainder of the season a beadhead hares ear was nearly always present on my line, and it rarely disappointed.
The salvation nymph continued to produce fish, but its prime time was centered on mid-June through August; whereas, the hares ear attracted fish consistently throughout the season, and it was particularly effective in the late fall time period of October and November.
Unwilling to risk depletion of my valuable stock of hares ears, I tied seventy-two, and when added to my carry over supply of twenty-eight enables me to enter the 2017 season with one hundred in inventory. I cannot wait to observe the salvation vs. hares ear face off again in 2017.