What is a Hot Spot Not?

The term “hot spot” in relation to flies has been around for decades. The concept is to make your flies standout from the crowd. This is typically done by the use of colour, usually bright. However this can also be achieved by exaggerating a key feature of the fly, for example, tying the thorax bigger.

The concept has been written about and used widely. Back in the 1970’s the famous angler Richard Walker wrote about his success in using hot spot flies. Today the trend continues, with top anglers and international teams in competitive fly fishing, all ensuring some of their flies have hot spots.

So why the title for this post “what is a hot spot not?”. Take for example the above image. Your initial first glance. Where is your eye drawn to? What features jump out?

If we are honest, the answer will probably be the bright beads, the strands of flash in the tail. The hot spot has done it’s job, right? Well maybe, but that assumes a fly’s hot spot is an attractive signal to a fish. Ah, you say, we know it is, have I not already written about this above? Well yes, but, their are times when this is not so. Lets examine why hot spots might have an adverse affect on your fly fishing success.

Today, the mass awareness of the hot spot concept within the fly fishing fraternity, means trout (and many other species pursued with fly rods) are exposed to hot spot flies regularly. In such instances, particularly where catch and release is the go to practice, hot spot flies often repel fish, triggering a warning of danger. It’s a case of once bitten twice shy and I have seen this happen thousands of times in clear water situations.

Now, look again at the photo above. How many flies are there? Yes, that’s right, five. One of the five damsel nymph variants is smaller, sparser, more drab and lighter than the other four. You could easily miss it looking at the others, it could disappear into the tail of another fly. When hot spot flies send a wave of blind panic through shoals of fish, it’s time for a really simple, plain fly. Something that blends in with the naturals. Maybe, just sometimes, plain is the new hot spot?

So, going back to this post’s title, “what is a hot spot not?”. A hot spot is not a hot spot when it becomes the norm. When everyone uses them they cease to stand out!