You’re not a nymph, or a minnow, or even a bug. Some say you “resemble” a worm or a grub, and others say you're the best crane fly larva imitation they've ever used. But as far as I’m concerned, as you’re floating down through the current, you look exactly like what you are – a hunk of old mop strapped to a hook.
Chest Creek in March. There you were in all your “mopness” drifting down through the current toward that huge rainbow trout finning in the current. The minute your fuzzy tail tickled his nose, the trout flexed its jaws and in you went. Fish on. Your hook held and I hoisted that 20-incher, with you dangling from its lower lip, for a photo.
I couldn’t even blame your success on that fish being blind in one eye. Yes, blind. Because, to be perfectly honest, a short while later you fooled a perfectly healthy, robust 18-incher, and many others after that.
Mop Fly, I know where you came from. A fly fisherman and tyer, Jim Estes, walked into a dollar store in Bryson City, North Carolina, one day and saw you just hanging out in a corner with a bunch of your friends. You all thought you were so cool. You know what they say about the “pack mentality,” and I believe you used that to coax Mr. Estes into thinking you were more than just some microfiber cleaning supplies.
Mop Fly, you were born in the late-1990s, a member of Generation Z, whatever that means. Originally intended to represent large sourwood worms that fall from the trees during the summer months, you have since proven your worth on streams and rivers in Patagonia, New Zealand, Chile, and all throughout Europe and the United States and probably everywhere else there are fish to be caught. And now here you are, Mop Fly, with numerous awards to your credit, including a USA Fly Fishing Team Youth gold medal.
Mop Fly, yours is literally the story of rags to riches. You are the American Dream.
It doesn’t matter what you were intended to represent. I’ve used you in all sorts of color variations to catch trout on almost every stream I’ve fished since first “discovering” one of your kind stuck in a tree on a small mountain stream. Until then, I’d heard only rumors of you. I plucked you from the branches and tied you on, and I caught trout after trout until I lost you to a greedy brown that wanted you for its own.
Some fly fishermen say you’re junk, but I know better. It’s not your fault that now, every time I see a mop or bath rug made of the same material as you, I wonder how many Mop Flies I could make out of that product.
Since that day I first used you, I have devoted a whole fly box to your kind. I hesitate to call it a fly box, though. On the outside I have taped a label with the words “Cleaning Supplies.” Because that’s what you do. You clean up the trout.
Mop Fly, I hate you. But I love you, too.
Stay you, Mop Fly, and may we have a beautiful future together.