Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Do a Google image search for "stimulator," even with the prefix "Kaufmann's," and you get some interesting stuff.

Just goes to show how important stimulation is to all of us.

That goes for fly fishers, too, and, as for so many others, the fly that stimulated me the most as a beginner fly fisherman and novice fly tier was the Stimulator. With all the talk about the closing of Kaufmann's Streamborn swirling around I thought it was appropriate to give this fly some love.

I have claimed in the past that the Stimulator is the one fly that will catch fish under any and all conditions, and that is borne out by experience. I have taken great pleasure at the lake in watching the chironimid boys working so carefully and precisely while I was catching big trout on top with a big Stimulator.

One of my favorite memories is when one of them saw me reeling in a nice fish and called over to ask what I was using. "A Stimulator," I called back. Pause. Then a response: "A Stimulator?!" Long pause. Then: "What color?"

Interestingly, while the Stimulator is popularly attributed to Randall Kaufmann, he was probably its biggest promoter, but not its inventor. Like so many things in life, there is really nothing new under the sun. This is from the Leland's Fly Fishing Outfitters site:

Credit for the Stimulator’s design is often given to master fly tyer Randall Kaufmann, who promoted the fly heavily in the western United States. But according to Modesto, California-based fly tyer and angler, Jim Slattery, the Stimulator is his Frankenstein; borrowing heavily from Pat Barnes’ 1940s fly the “Sofa Pillow, and taking its name from a popular New York City-based punk band. Slattery says he tied the pattern in 1980 to fish what was then his backyard fly water: the Musconetcong River in New Jersey. Any way you slice it, the Stimulator is a fantastic emergent and adult stonefly imitation.

As they say, fantastic any way you slice it.

I pulled a few Stimulators out of a fly box--and even off the fly patch on my vest, still there from last season--for a group shot. All these are veterans, bitten and chewed on by trout--and they've all bitten back. Most I tied myself; some came into my possession...well, I can't remember how. But I love them all.

For example, that little orange and black number in the right hand corner accounted for the best fish I've taken in four seasons at the lake.

That would be this fish:

So thanks Pat, Jim, and Randall. The world is a better place because of the fly you helped create.

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