Everyone has a favorite pattern, a "go to" fly for when all else fails. The Golden Retriever is becoming a favorite of more and more fishermen. It has been a killing pattern for me for a long time. Although I wouldn't claim it as my own invention (it's basically a Wooley Bugger) I have incorporated a few material and design changes that, at times, make this fly irresistible to fish. That said; calling this pattern "another Wooley Bugger" is like saying that the Adams is just another dry fly. Look in the Orvis Fly Tying Manual in the wooley bugger section. Tom Rosenbauer gives it mention. The golden retriever proved its worth on a recent trip to Maine for landlocks - and Tom saw it in action. And read Mike O'Brien's article on this pattern in the November 2007 issue of Eastern Fly Fisherman.
The golden retriever is especially effective in high and/or off-color water and is a killer on Mossy Creek. It can be deadly fished as a streamer or as a nymph, high- sticked and bounced along the bottom. The white version has become very popular and is especially effective on rainbows and steelhead. The root beer retriever has, more than once, saved the day for me when all else had failed. I stopped letting beginners fish this fly during my fly fishing classes on a private spring creek that I stocked with rainbows. Too many fish were being killed. Here's what was happening; I would have the student flip a white retriever across and downstream towards a known lie. If a fish didn't take it on the swing and hook itself, the fly would end up on the bottom at the edge of a current or in an eddy. Trout, especially rainbows, will pick this fly up off the bottom and swallow it. I would observe a flash or a slight twitch of the leader, indicating, to me, that a fish had taken. "Set the hook," I'd say --- no response. "Strike" I'd holler, a little more excitedly. The poor student, his mind boggled with all of the information crammed in for the past few hours, usually would freeze while trying to figure out just what it was that I wanted him to do now. When the student finally lifted the rod, the trout would, often, have swallowed the fly; just the bead-head visible in his gullet. So fish this pattern with confidence but keep in touch with it and strike at the least provocation. When a fish takes this fly, he usually means business
New! Magnum Golden retriever Get Down! I have been tying and fishing this larger version for 5-6 years. At first I used it primarily in High water but now I fish it more and more...almost always use it in stillwater. I'll write more about it later I just wanted to get them out to the public and give you all an opportunity to see for yourself how productive this heavier fly is. Tyed on a size #6 with half again as much weight this fly gets down to the fish zone fast and stays there longer. The overall length is not that much greater than the standard retriever, fish it the same and your catch rate should increase...especially in stillwater or as an anchor in a two fly rig.