My 02/21/2017 post on stimulators documented my fondness for the light yellow body color, however, other body shades attract Rocky Mountain trout throughout the year. Two additional hues that seem to be exceptionally productive in Colorado are gray and olive. When I counted my supply of these two mainstays of my fly box, I realized that my inventory was largely depleted. Given this discovery I sat down at my vise and cranked out fifteen gray and ten olive stimulators. Ten of the gray versions were size 16 and five were size 14. In the case of the olive variety I made entirely size 16.
Throughout my years of fly fishing gray has always stood out as a popular color for trout. The fabled Adams dry fly is the best example of gray effectiveness, and many authors claim to fish nothing but an Adams with excellent success. I am also extremely confident in a light gray caddis and a light gray comparadun. Regardless of the color of the naturals, these two flies seem to produce. Perhaps this explains why the gray stimulator is often my first choice when I approach a small stream with the intent of prospecting with a dry fly.
The bushy appearance of the stimulator enables it to float well in turbulent water, and it is easily visible in most lighting conditions, because it exhibits a high profile on the surface. I prefer foam as my top fly on a dry/dropper configuration, but a stimulator can generally support one size 14 beadhead or smaller dropper, and I often opt for a stimulator dry/dropper alignment in low clear stream conditions. The light stimulator allows a soft entry to a pool and thus reduces the risk of startling a potential skittish feeder.
During an initial visit to the Hayden Meadows section of the Arkansas River I encountered a gray drake hatch. I assumed the large mayflies were green drakes, and I managed some success with a Harrop deer hair green drake; however, after rotating through other green drake imitations I settled on a size 14 gray stimulator, and it delivered five nice brown trout to my net. This example provides another solid reason to stock ample gray stimulators in my fly box.