Call it a trash fly, call it a revolution, call it what you want. But you cannot deny that Mop Flies catch fish, and most of the time, a lot of them. Once a well-kept Smoky Mountain secret, the mop fly has exploded onto the fly fishing scene and into our fly boxes since it’s cover was first blown in a Wall Street Journal article.
In the late 90s, Jim Estes, walked through his local dollar store in Bryson City, North Carolina, and came upon something that would spark a big flame in the fly fishing world, a pad of thick, brightly-colored microfiber nubs.
“I just saw that thing and thought it would work,” says Jim Estes, a 72-year-old retiree to the Wall Street Journal.
Jim, a long-time experimental fly tyer, tied one of the spongey nubs onto a hook weighted with a bead head and gave it a dubbing collar. Not only was the fly simple to tie, but when he took it out on his local waters, the thing went to work and fooled plenty of trout.
Originally, the patter was tied to mimic the lime green Sourwood Worms (A.K.A. Catawba Worms) that hatch over creeks in the Smokies every Summer. Anglers quickly realized, however, that the action of the mop finger hanging off a hook fooled plenty of fish when the worms weren’t hatching.
And thus the legend of the Mop Fly began, spreading quickly through word of mouth and a small group of competitive fly anglers, and was even a part of Lance Egan’s bid to take home the US National Fly Fishing World Championships in the summer of 2016.
How to Fish the Mop
There really is no wrong way to fish a mop fly. Personally, I have hooked fish on them suspended under an indicator (or bobber, call it what you want), swung through riffles, tight-lined in pocket water and even stripped quickly across the surface. For whatever reason, certain trout can’t seem to resist it, especially stocked fish and some wild PA brown trout. Hell, its become one of my go-to carp patterns in the springs and summers, even fooling a channel catfish or two!
How to Tie It
In this video, Ryan Ratliff at Mad River Outfitters breaks down how to tie a mop fly in two minutes or less.