The Mop Fly


(10/17/16 edit: After reading the readers’ comments below, I bought some mop fly tying materials. Stay tuned!)

I’ve seen it. But, I’ve not tied it or fished it.

I don’t know, but I’m conflicted about the Mop Fly. On rare occasions, I will fish a SJW or an egg. I’m now into flies coated with UV resin, and so, I’m not a total purist. But, I don’t fish pellet flies, and the Mop Fly just doesn’t feel right to me.

I’m writing this because the Wall Street Journal this morning has an article on the fly, if you can believe it. Link here, if you subscribe. If not, Google “WSJ mop fly,” and that will get you away from the paid wall.

What do you think about it? A fly or a lure? Does it matter?


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25 thoughts on “The Mop Fly

  1. If it isn't imitating a specific food item then in my book its a lure. Does it matter? Not to me!
    In my experience those "magic flies/lures" have a short effective life on fish. For example I used to fish the Swift a lot and would use a chartreuse or hot orange streamer to jack up bored trout. Worked for the first few casts then nothing!
    If I felt one fly/lure would work all the time my vest would be a lot lighter for sure!
    One thing my father used to say is true all the time though: "first you have to hook the fisherman".
    That said if I have the opportunity to snip off some material I may give this fly/lure a go, cause I am a sucker for finding that "magic" fly!

  2. What makes it any less of a lure than a pheasant tail or a hare's ear? Those both imitate a broad range of food items and have characteristics that trigger a trout to eat them. So does the mop fly. It can imitate a broad range of terrestrial and aquatic worms and larva, and has characteristics that trigger the fish to eat.
    I draw the line here: If it can be cast with a fly rod, does not have smell or taste attraction, and was created with the original intent to be fished with a fly rod, it is a fly.

  3. In the British tradition, all streamer patterns were called lures. They had lures, wet flies, and spider flies (what we today call soft hackle flies). While the Mop Fly doesn't look much like a steamer, i.e., an imitation bait fish, it could fall into the category of an attractor streamer, like the Llama pattern, not meant to be a dace or muddler, but a lure that simply attracts fish. I've not fished this mop fly, though there has been a bit of talk about it on the Swift lately, still using dries and egg patterns (the Y2K has been very effective in more than the Y-Pool).

  4. I was guided by Cam Chioffi earlier this year on the Deerfield. Cam is/was a repeat world champion fly fisherman. He said the mop fly is something he always uses in competition as it catches fish everywhere. That day on the Deerfield it was clearly the fly most successful. Since then I tied up a few more and have used it multiple times but I've been nowhere near as successful, so for me anyway it's not the "magic" fly.

  5. I take dozens on the mop every time I hit the Swift, and that goes for the winter too, not just fresh dumb stockies. There are certain techniques that make it way more effective than just hunking it out on a tapered leader and a 9 foot rod. But yes, with a handful of mops in bright green any old schmoe can go out and hammer the Swift trout.

    I don't mind the mop, because it catches fish and there is still a certain amount of adjustments. With color changes depending on conditions and various weights of beads (and switching tiplets, etc), I'm sure I can outfish the aforementioned average Joe that's just tossing one mop, 5:1. For most people it will catch the initial few fish, then put the rest off. Learn why different colors and weights of it catch better on in different days, and you will own the trout there.

    1. Thanks for sharing your insights. Regarding different weights, I've seen pressured fish sometimes are sensitive to a fly sinking un-naturally too fast. I call that "vertical drag" (more here:

      Glad that you've found techniques that work well on the Swift. That river is certainly a puzzle. I have my own go-to techniques and I think figuring them out has been a blast. Now, I don't go to the Swift very much since I'm trying to figure out the Farmington.

    2. It's one of the most veritile flies out there, in that it has so many applications. Lose the head and you can twitch it on top or just dead drift it on top. Weightless you can also drift it downstream just under the top or let if have a slow fall in slack water which is killer. Keep in mind, weightless its basically a green weenie. Then light bead get you your standard drifts and heavier beads let yoh bounce bottom, and you can also strip it like a streamer. This is deadly, especially in the Y Pool. And a lot of people have never seen it but trout will root on the bottom, picking things up, much like carp. With a heavy bead you can crawl it painfully slowly across the bottom and trout will slurp it up… one of the best kept secrets for big trout.

      Anyhow, you cant do that with a hares eat, woolly bigger, Adams, etc. With 2 or 3 variations of the mop in my box I can take trout on any river, any time of year, under any conditions.


    3. (Previous comment was from me as well)

      I use Euro nymphing gear with these for the best result, and like yiu were saying, vertical drag is important to avoid. I'm really slow or completely slack pools you can't beat an unweighted mop… they cant resist that slow fall. Faster water I usually like to be bouncing bottom.

      Swift is fun, but I don't fish it much anymore. I've had 30 fish days French nymphing numbing the mop at the Farmington too by the way.

      One day comes to mind last January, where I had fished a few pools with only 1 tiny brown to net using standard nymphs and trash flies (including mops), and had not witnessed another fish caught among the 4 or 5 other anglers in this large pool. Switched my smaller green mop fly for a size 8 blue mop with a 4.2 mm tungsten bead, and I proceeded to catch around 20 fish in the next 2 hours. Just dragging it along the bottom, at a painfully slow rate. With the tightline rig you can feel every rock and bump, and these fish were just sitting on the bottom rooting around for something. Nobody else was catching a thing nymphing (although I handed out a few as I left).

      I realize that sounds braggy (not my goal!), but I just want to prove that the mop is really effective. And yet, there's times when it won't catch unless you use it another way or use skme variation, etc. It has a big place in my fly box.


    4. Scenario in January was at the Farmy. Forgot to mention. Figured it might provide some mire insight for that river.

      Hope you found something there useful!


    5. Geez, Noel, you're a Trout Whisperer! My mind is racing right now:

      1. Yes, the gradual fall can be an amazing strike trigger.

      2. When I stomach pump trout, I at times see their bellies full of green moss. I think they're rooting around the bottom for scuds. I've read that's a common insect at tailwaters.

      3. Send me, please, an email to my Gmail at BlogFlyFishMA? I'd love to connect with a fellow tightliner.

      Thank you for all of the super-insightful comments.

    6. Very interesting Noel. I remember you also bringing up the mops the second time we met, years back. Seems you've really dialed them in since! Want to write a guest post on this?


    7. Noel, I agree with Troy. Any and all posts from you would be great.

      I know I'm reaching here, but if you ever want to join our team here, please consider doing so? Our request is that each writer, if possible, strives to write a post a week. We know "regular life" gets in the way of that, though.

      Writing for the blog has been a great deal of fun for me. I've met a lot of great guys on the rivers and have interacted with so many awesome people online. It feels good to pay it forward….

  6. Interesting article. I've never shied away from fishing trashy flies, and have dabbled around with the mop. I prefer it's unweighted cousin, the green weenie, which I've written about a few times. The slow fall on that does better most times in my opinion than the mop. But I'm more of an egg guy anyway.


    1. Hey Troy, hope you've been well! I too love the Green Weenie, but they stopped working early in the season on the Swift since so many guys throw it. Also, the well-known Bob Bailey was nice enough to show me one of his flies. I'm sworn to secrecy, but it is a fly I've never seen before. My success on the Swift (on the rare occasions that I do fish it) is all about throwing a fly the fish haven't seen before. Maybe they're just curious?

    2. I don't think curiosity plays a role. I think they have 2 options: It is food, or it isn't food. With the amount of pressure on the Swift those fish start to see some flies often enough to KNOW that they are not food. Trout are not quite as discerning as people say, so they eat a lot of things thinking they aren't food just because they are food sized and in their drift. Unless this secret fly looks like a something the fish know is not food they are likely to eat it.

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