The Olive Willy has been a staple in my stillwater box for nearing a few decades now. This little wunderkind was developed by Allen Peterson of Swede’s Fly Shop many moons ago and continues to produce throughout the northwest open water season. Being the opportunists they are when it comes to sucking down a meal, trout are hard-pressed to refuse a tasty morsel that resembles so many of the insects, crustaceans and mollusks they consume throughout their lives. The Olive Willy really shines in late spring when damsel and dragon nymphs are at their most active, but I think it’ll pass for all sorts of delicious critters that trout eat, including snails. The soft pheasant filoplume tail and rump hackle create a lot of movement in the pattern and the red glass bead head adds a touch of attraction. Whatever the appeal, this fly should own a spot in your box.
Pass Lake can be notoriously fickle and as a young buck many years ago, I’d enjoyed only modest success. I was not yet versed in the Jedi arts of fishing chironomids and catching only the odd trout here and there. One sunny afternoon in late May, I tied on an Olive Willy, fished a slow strip retrieve on an intermediate sinking line and proceeded to crush it, with big rainbow after rainbow annihilating the fly to my amazement. I won’t say it works all the time, but it continues to save many a slow day when little else seems to work and I continue to fish it regularly. So I guess in the immortal words of Anchorman’s Brian Fantana, I’d say that…”Sixty percent of the time it works every time.”