Killer fly – The Anato May

anato mayMatt Harris sings the praises of a blue-winged olive imitation that, in his opinion, has no equal.

It was a case of love at first sight. And I remember the day as if it was yesterday.

I was in a fly shop in West Yellowstone, Montana, browsing the myriad patterns that mimicked a million insects. There were sulphur duns, tricos, caddisflies, blue-winged olives, salmon flies, you name it. Not only that, each species was presented in every life stage and form imaginable. Nymphs, emergers, crippled emergers, duns, crippled duns, spinners, spent spinners... To a foreigner, the hatches of the Rocky Mountains are a baffling blizzard and I really didn’t have a clue where to start.

Then I saw it. In amongst the massed ranks of flies was a humble little nymph – Ken Morrish’s Anato May.

Terrible name, great fly. If I had been a trout, I’d have been in trouble.

I grabbed the nearest receptacle and filled it to the brim.

I bought every last one of those little flies, knowing that I was looking at the best blue-winged olive (BWO) nymph imitation I’d ever seen. It was perfect. A young assistant saw me and eagerly pointed out the various other Anato Mays. They didn’t match the BWO like the first one I’d spotted, but one was just so buggy I had to fill up another container to the brim – I greedily emptied all of the peacock herl versions into a second brimming little plastic pot.

My hunch was spot-on.

Since that day, the Anato May in its various guises has caught me a million trout, from the chalkstreams of Hampshire to the tumbling freestones of New Zealand.

It’s a killer, plain and simple.

It gave me one of the biggest and best wild brown trout of my life in New Zealand – a 12lb beast that had refused half a dozen of the local offerings – and it is my go-to pattern whenever trout are mopping up olive nymphs.

Over the years, my stock dwindled – after giving a few good friends (you know who you are!) a fearful hiding with my little “special”, I felt duty-bound to share a couple of the precious patterns. Finally, last year, I realised I was down to my last few.

Fortunately, my good friend Martin Webster came to my aid. Martin runs Selectafly, and having witnessed just how devastating the pattern can be, he had the fly painstakingly deconstructed and perfectly tied.

I was his first customer and had him grumbling theatrically as I bought the entire stock 10 minutes after they’d arrived.

The good news is that Martin has replenished his stock, and the new version is every bit as effective as the West Yellowstone Anglers original.

You can buy this killer fly at and you will not regret the investment.

One last thing... Make sure you buy plenty – unless you’re happy to tell your humiliated companions to buy their own.

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