If there is a more quintessential western dry fly than the Stimulator I know not of it. The stimulator is everything western about fly fishing; an easy to see bushy profile that floats like a cork, yellow and orange body that resembles canyon river walls at sunset, and a design that mimics stoneflies one day and summer hoppers the next. And let’s not forgot the hollow, ochre colored elk hair, once keeping a Wapiti warm during the brutal Jackson winters, now being cut and tied in as a wing at my fly tying desk.
I’m not sure what fly my first western trout was caught on, but I have a hunch it was a stimulator; one probably handed to me by my grandfather on the banks of the Hoback River. In the years since, I have fished this pattern on a variety of waters; cold, fast, alpine streams deep in the Wyoming high- country, medium size meadow tributaries and large rivers like the Snake and Green. Fish never seem to hesitate when my size 8 or 10 yellow stimulator floats over them. Brook trout inhale them eagerly, while native cutthroat rise slow and deliberately, sipping the imitation with ease.
Of all the flies in my vest, the Stimulator is my favorite; tied on in the summer sun and cast into a cold western trout stream.