Each spring fly anglers across the Old Dominion sort through their fly boxes to decide which patterns they’ll put to good use in the upcoming season and which won’t make the cut. Harry Murray’s Mr. Rapidan and Jim Finn’s Golden Retriever lead the pack as perhaps the best known Virginia patterns, and both are terrific. But did you know that great Virginia fly patterns abound? Let’s take a moment to check out a few of these home-grown patterns, learn why they were created, and find out how to put them to good use.
Jim Hickey, a longtime Shenandoah River guide who now lives and guides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, regularly guided clients in Patagonia, Chile, “land of the condor,” during the off-season in Virginia. While in Chile, Hickey noticed that the resident trout went nuts for what looked like damselflies. Back at camp, Hickey experimented at his vice until he came up with a respectable imitation of the trouts’ favorite fly. His pattern was a hit in Patagonia; Hickey’s Condor was born. Hickey brought the Condor home with him, noting the striking resemblance between his fly and the Virginia damselflies around him. Sure enough, his pattern was a hit with the fish here, too.
I have fished Hickey’s Condor with tremendous success for several years; on my best day, I landed 22 smallies in a single afternoon without changing flies. Though originally tied for South American trout, Virginia fish take the Condor without a second thought. Hickey’s Condor comes in chartreuse, brown, black, orange, and blue in sizes 6-12.
Brothers Brian and Colby Trow own Mossy Creek Fly Fishing in Harrisonburg, Virginia. They also guide clients for trout and