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Krumm Column: Wet spring has countryside blooming
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Way back when I was taking a statistics class in graduate school, I recall the professor referring to certain statistical tests as being "robust." He meant that the test could be applied to a wide variety of uses.

The more I fly fish, the more I realize that there are a number of fly patterns that are robust. It seems that I can use them either for a variety of uses - nymph, wet, or dry fly fishing - or for different species of fish.

Hare's ear top pick Whenever I think of a robust fly, I often think of the gold-ribbed hare's ear. I believe that if I could only fish with one nymph, I would choose a hare's ear.

Of course, I prefer John Gierach's answer when he was asked if he were limited to just one fly to fish with, what would it be? He replied, "I wouldn't fish."

A hare's ear can be tied in a number of ways: with or without a wing case; in a variety of dubbing colors such as olive, dark brown, light brown and natural; with tight dubbing, loose dubbing, or a dubbing loop; and in a wide range of sizes. It can be used as a nymph, a wet fly and an emerger. If you apply floatant to a hare's ear, you can fish it as a cripple during a mayfly hatch.

A large, dark hare's ear can imitate a stonefly nymph. About any size and color of hare's ear will imitate a mayfly nymph while in small sizes (18-22) it can imitate a midge pupae.

About any species of trout will take a hare's ear. Bluegills, sunfish, perch, smallmouth bass and whitefish will fall for them, too.

Clouser proves flexibility Another robust fly is the Clouser minnow. I have found that it is effective for a wide range of fish species. I have caught black crappie, white crappie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, brown trout, rainbow trout, bonefish, mangrove snapper, blue runner and yellow jack on Clouser minnows. In fact, I have caught all of the above on just one color pattern - chartreuse and white.

The Clouser minnow is simple to tie. It only takes about five minutes to tie one. The materials are relatively inexpensive: bucktail, dumbbell eyes, a stout hook, and 3/0 thread. The total cost for one Clouser is less than 25 cents.

Leech loved by many With the mountain lakes and beaver ponds starting to open up, a very useful fly for ice-out fishing is the marabou leech. Not only can you use marabou leeches in lakes and ponds, but in streams as well. Any stream that has leeches will be a sure bet for you to catch fish on a marabou leech. When streams are murky, the black marabou leech is quite visible and will help you catch a decent number of fish.

I like to tie black marabou leeches on a size 8 curved nymph hook with eight or so turns of lead wire on the front half of the hook. The tail is black marabou and about as long as the gap of the hook. The body is black dubbing and the wing is black marabou that is only as long as the hook.

Black marabou leeches are deadly on brook trout, brown trout and rainbows. In bigger sizes, say 4s, black marabou leeches can be deadly for largemouth and smallmouth bass and walleye. I sometimes deviate from black and tie the marabou leech in purple - the bass love it!

Of course, northern pike will eat marabou leeches, but if you want to consistently interest northern pike you must use a large hook size such as 2/0 or 4/0.

I realize that there are many other robust flies out there and that you can probably name several that should be nominated, but I thought my three candidates for "The Robust Fly of the Year Award" would start you thinking on which flies you consider to be robust. Maybe we can come up with the 12 best robust flies of the century?

Bob Krumm, of Sheridan, is the Wyoming outdoor correspondent for The Billings Gazette. He can be contacted at