The Challenge of the Superfly
By Paul Prentiss


The Ivahroo won the largest fish award in the Superfly.  It’s tied on a size 12 TMC 200R hook, has a brown ostridge herl body and hen hackle collar.  Go to for more information on this pattern.

In the spring, my fishing partner and I signed up to participate in the 2006 Super Fly competition held annually by the Gunnison Angling Society.  Since 1990, two-man teams have competed in catching the most inches of trout on randomly selected river beats in the area surrounding Gunnison.

Most fly fishermen are well aware of the incredible angling opportunities afforded on the Gunnison River, East River, Taylor River, and the large assortment of creeks including Tomichi and Cochetopa.  Since the contest would be in the second week in September, the tourist season would be over, the aspen changing with gorgeous fall weather, and the Kokanee Salmon would be running.

Fishing takes place on a Saturday in two four hour sessions.  You are assigned beats and to a judge who measures and records the fish caught.  Only five trout can be entered and scored.  The first fish caught in each session (irrespective of size) counts, but the second fish is at your election.  Once you have exercised this option a fifth trout (caught in either session) can be entered as a wild card.   In other words, the length of 10 fish (five per angler) determines the winning team.  The kicker is you can use only two pre-registered flies during entire contest.  If you lose them, your day is over.

Any type of barbless fly is acceptable - you can choose a dry, wet, nymph, or streamer.  There are no restrictions on the gear or rigging - you can apply weight, use strike indicators, etc.  Each team member is free to use a different pattern.  The choice of a pattern is made more difficult since you have no idea of the river or beat you will be assigned until the night before the contest.

Since all of the anglers are very experienced, two variables have considerable bearing on the outcome - the beats you receive and the flies you choose. 

Should we use something tried and true or be creative?  Should we choose extremes (dry fly and a streamer), similar patterns, identical patterns, different sizes, and so on. Ultimately we decided on two patterns that I developed this year, the Ivahroo and the Brightboy.  The former was named after a granddaughter (developed while babysitting) and could pass for a stonefly or sunken terrestrial. The Brightboy is a general purpose nymph with a flash along its back and over the wingcase.  As such, I was giving up fishing on the surface, which could be somewhat risky, but this time of year dry fly fishing in the mornings is tentative.  I came close to selecting a streamer, but thought the possibility of losing the fly was too high.

Eighteen teams competed on a mostly sunny fall day.  The top team was Tom McDermott and Gary Christlieb with 149.12 inches.  Their choice of flies included the Western Coachman, Rio Grande Trude, and two Wolly Buggers (all tried and true patterns).  Top Rod at 85.5 inches was Mike Beatty using two dries, an Adams and a PMD.  The latter was particularly strange since there had been no PMD’s on the water for two months.  Mike’s a member of the local chapter.  He took a risk and it paid off in a major way.  The Ivahroo took the best fish, a 20 ½ inch rainbow on the Gunnison River.  During the course of the day it accounted for 20 other fish.

xI had saved the Brightboy to use when, and if, things got tough.  I had great confidence in this particular fly because it consistently produced good trout in the local waters prior to the contest.  During a slow period I decided to give it a try.  On my first cast a18-inch fish took it and turned into to the heavy current.  I lost the fly and the fish within 15 seconds.



                         The Brightboy

The Superfly is really about fun and good sportsmanship.  Awards were given out for the first person to lose both flies, the first person to fall into the water, and so on.  Further, you get to fish water that most non-locals never sample.  Information about future events can be secured from their web site,



The top team was Tom McDermott (far left) and Gary Christlieb with 149.12 inches.