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  • David A. Van Wie

A Dozen Funky Fly Names

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

Fishing flies are literally examples of art imitating life.

In our never-ending quest to fool fish into thinking that an artificial fly is some type of food, fly fishers have invented thousands of patterns and forms using all manner of materials, including feathers, fur, foam, yarn, hair, tinsel, wire, beads, fluff, and flashy synthetics.

Some fly patterns are drab, somewhat ugly imitations of a lowly bug or worm or minnow, while others are elegant, tiny sculptures of graceful insects, or colorful and beautiful works of art with whimsical names. Fly tyers often show as much imagination in naming their flies as they do in inventing new patterns.

Or not. At the duller end of the scale, a fly's name might simply describe what the fly is intended to imitate: a Flying Ant, Caddis Emerger, Green Drake (a type of mayfly), Blue-winged Olive (another mayfly), and San Juan Worm, for example.

Another less inspired group includes flies named after the person who designed the pattern or otherwise deserved the honor of being commemorated in some way: Adams, Hornberg, Wood Special, or Hendrickson. All well and good.

Other more creative names connote what the fly evokes in the eye of the fly caster: Black Ghost, Woolly Bugger, Royal Coachman, Brown Owl, or Green Weenie.

And who doesn't love the flies with bold, flamboyant names that are full of braggadocio: Warden's Worry, Undertaker, Slumpbuster, Stimulator, or the Irresistible?

Finally, some fly names are saucy and irreverent, sometimes pushing the bounds of good taste (which, with apologies to Charlie the Tuna, begs the question- should a fly be in good taste, or should it taste good?). You be the judge with the dozen flies shown below. 

We all have our favorites, either because they work well, or we like how they look, or- admit it - we just like the name, which usually says something about the fly fisher.

Perhaps there should be a fly called the Freudian Slip. I'll work on that.

Anyway, here's a dozen funky flies with outrageous names. Even if the fly doesn't raise a fish, at least it's name might raise a few eyebrows.

Let's start with some of the more traditional, storied flies with colorful names.

Montreal Whore - Many fly shops tame this name down by calling it just a Montreal or a Montreal Floozie. This classic wet fly pattern with pink and claret colors evokes the ladies of ill-repute in the famous city north of the border. There's a modern streamer version with an orange body, but I prefer the original wet fly pattern. This image is from

Cow Dung - Another classic wet fly pattern, this one imported from the chalk streams of England. Yeah, it's brown, and it's actually named after a bug that lays its eggs on cow patties. Image from

Mickey Finn - This versatile streamer packs a real punch. The fish won't know what hit 'em. I've caught many, many fish on this gaudy fly, including several locations on the #StoriedWaters tour.  Image from

Professor - Another old classic wet fly pattern that is known for taking the fish to school. Like many great flies, it doesn't imitate anything in particular, but seems to mimic many different food choices.  Image from

Rat-Faced McDougal - A high-floating dry fly that originated in the Catskills. I have no idea where the name came from, but it reminds me of an old gangster movie. It also looks a lot like an Irresistible.  Image is from

And now a few more contemporary patterns with outrageous names:

Fly Formerly Known As Prince - A hip, culturally-conscious design that riffs on the dearly beloved Prince Nymph pattern which has caught millions and millions of fish. Personally, I think it should have some purple or raspberry in it. This fly’s got the look, so let’s go crazy and party like it’s 1999. Image from

Drunk and Disorderly - This staggeringly-effective streamer recently appeared in the Orvis social media feed in the mouth of a huge trout.  Image from

Meat Whistle - Apparently this works as advertised to attract big fish.  Image from

Shop Vac - This tiny beadhead nymph pattern really sucks them in. Image from

Chernobyl Ant - A high visibility mutant that can be tied in a variety of outlandish colors. Because it floats so well, it is also useful for combining with a nymph dropper.

Image from

Bacon'n' Eggs - Pretty much what it looks like.

Image from

Hippie Stomper-  This mid-western pattern was probably tied by a redneck with an attitude. Image from

If you're interested in buying and trying any of these flies, please go to the websites listed to place an order. 

And remember, if you can't keep it clean, keep it clever.

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