It’s sort of like lugging your whole golf bag around the miniature golf course, thinking you just might need any one of those clubs. “Let’s see. The windmill hole. 9 iron and chip it? No, I think I’ll use…my putter again.”
I suspect most fly fisherman do the same thing; carry a box full of flies but end up throwing a precious few that they have confidence in. It's said that a good fly catches as many fishermen as it does fish and I guess that’s a big part of why we have a lot of patterns in the box. “Isn’t that pretty? Looks so natural. I’ll take three and I bet they’ll catch fish… if they ever get out of the box!!!”
My regular fishing buddies carry even busier boxes than I do and regularly change throughout the day, fine tuning what they're throwing for conditions; water, air, lunar, who knows? I, on the other hand, doggedly toss the same fly until I’ve sufficiently annoyed old bucketmouth to hit it. (Largemouths are like that. It’s part of their charm.). I postulate that sticking with a pattern saves me fishing time, minimizes the number of bad knots I can tie, and doesn’t make my head hurt from thinking about it too much. Most importantly, I don’t seem to catch any less fish than my cohorts do.
I often wonder why a limited selection of flies hangs with the power of the big box. They may not always be the perfect fly for the situation but, if fished with confidence and experience, they often seem to get the job done. It’s seems to me that if the fisherman believes in it, the fish often do to. Now I don’t mean to suggest the whole “power of positive thinking” thing, but rather that the wrong fly fished right seems to out fish the right fly fished wrong. And no one can fish a fly wrong better than me.
As for the Orvis Gully Fish and the Murray's Marauder, my go to flies? They do okay...
Now, if I’d just get smart and lighten the load by not always carrying those clunky boxes of fish candy. Probably not. You never know when you might just need to chip that windmill.