If I Could Use Only One Fly

by John Evans
San Antonio, TX

Right after the argument about the best tenkara rod comes the heated discussion about the best fly. There are no magic flies that consistently catch fish under every condition. Plus, presentation almost always trumps pattern. But, let’s face it, we all have certain flies that we fish with confidence—ones that produce when others fail.

So, what is that fly for you? Is it the simplest sakasa kebari traditional fly? Or maybe a Utah Killer Bug or a Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph? Perhaps a Catskill-style Adams’ fly does it for you, or an Elk Hair Caddis.

Screaming Banshee - Charlie Craven patternScreaming Banshee

This past year I’ve kept records of when and where I caught fish, and my most successful fly was a size 16 Screaming Banshee—a skating caddis pattern as tied by Charlie Craven. I tie my own now, but I give full credit to Charlie for developing the pattern. The materials include elk hair, deer hair, opal mirage tinsel, dry fly dubbing, and lots of patience. There are a couple of on-line videos that show you how to tie it.

There’s something about that forward facing planing surface and just a little bit of flash that seems to do the trick. Also, the Banshee has a very enticing profile from the bottom. Panfish, bass, catfish, trout, all like it. Finally, its size and shape casts wonderfully well with any good tenkara rod.

But, I won’t try to convince you of that because you probably have your own favorite. What would it be? If your fly box could carry only one pattern, the one fly you had to use from now on under all conditions, what would it be?


By David Noll

Since late last fall I have been out well over 100 times and the fly I have used over 90% of the time is a Pink Squirrel 2.0. It was developed by Richard at UK Barbless Flies with input from Driftless Area guide Mike Warren.

Pink Squirrel 2.0 by Richard Barbless Flies

by John Evans


Beautiful-looking nymph--I can see why it works! Isn't it amazing how different "favorite flies" can be from one another? Probably says something about the individual nature of fly fishing, including tenkara.

by Sean W

5/32 gold tungsten beadhead Utah Killer bug on a size 8 Toemco 2x heavy nymph hook. Caught lake runs, stream browns and rainbows, carp, all manner of sunfish on them.

By Kris Franqui

For me, I like most flies from Lance Egan, like the tungsten surveyor. It’s usually a coin flip between that and the tan and pink Pay Czech woven nymph.

By David Noll

Pictures guys, please.

By Les Albjerg

If I only could have one, it would be a size 14 Renegade. This is an old pattern that has been a "go to" for me for more years than I would care to admit. It can be fished wet or dry. I have caught warm water fish as well as lots of trout and mountain whitefish with this fly.

Renegade dry fly - grizzly and brown hackle

By Charles Phelps

Toss up! Lance Egan Red Dart or Blue Dart.

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TenkaraBum Home > Your Tenkara Stories vol.2 > If I Could Use Only One Fly

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


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