Before I started to target big-and-wild browns, as a new angler, I focused on the the rain-bros at the Swift, Westfield, Millers, and Squannacook. It was a lot of fun, and those waters aren’t too far away from metro Boston and offer obvious spots so that you don’t need a guide (our compendium of DIY spots and best flies is here).
I early on went down the Euronymphing Rabbit Hole and started to devour videos, books and blog posts, eager to learn as much as possible. That’s when I ran across the Frenchie, a classic fly pattern that competition anglers made famous. It’s basically a souped-up Pheasant Tail fly.
Over time, I experimented with different colors, materials, and styles and started fishing a bunch of variants. I found a few combinations worked better than others. Gradually, I stopped fishing the Frenchie when I moved to brown trout, but I always have some of the flies in my fly box.
Here’s one below that features two orange hot spots and a buggy, “touch dub” thorax. It produced so well for me.
Newly-stocked rainbows really like the fly. My guess is the pattern works because of some strike triggers: tail fibers, color contrast, and air bubbles that might get trapped onto the thorax.
I never moved to v.3 of the fly because this one worked so well. The hatchery fish will hit it regularly from the spring stocking to mid-summer. Then, the real fun begins, as many rivers require smaller flies and more stealth.
For fun, I split the Coq de Leon tail fibers. I don’t think the fish care, but on a snowy evening when I’m already dreaming of the dry-fly hatches to come, it’s a fun detail to add.
So, have fun experimenting with various colors and detail tweaks. I’m sure others versions will work just as well on your waters.
Spring is hopefully coming soon!