Over the past 20 odd years, the WD-40 nymph has rose to prominence as one of the most effective flies for catching midge and blue winged olive eating trout. Across Colorado and the Rocky Mountain west, the WD-40 is a simple fly that many a tailwater guide has come to rely on. It is an extremely quick and easy tie, and any tier should be able to crank out a dozen or more in an hour.
Mark Engler is such a secret guy, that he was content to submit the WD-40 nymph to Umpqua as a signature pattern; and then go on in relative obscurity to much of the fly fishing community. This obscurity has lead to many copies, changes, and outright stolen credit for the WD-40’s invention over the years. This is how Mark has always been, never one to be a serious self promoter. The origins of the WD-40 were lost to the annals of time… unless you are Umpqua Feather Merchants who have always given credit to Mark as a signature tier and inventor of the WD-40.
One can search “WD-40 fly” on Google right now and most of the search results will contain pages where the author has no idea where this fly came from (but it will contain a lot of “you need to have some of these in your box” kind of talk). There are also a lot of WD-40 variations out there that deviate from the original recipe. There is even a WD-50 which adds flash and wing buds. Variations of the WD-40 are just fine, it is the natural progression of fly tying and it is a good thing. I would hate to ask how many Copper John variations there actually are.
Speaking of variations…turns out the Mark’s original WD-40 nymph is slightly different from the current mass marketed version. While filming their short fly fishing biopic on Mark Engler, Yeti Coolers was actually able to sit down with Mark and learn one of many of Mark’s tying secrets. See if you can pick out the difference in Mark’s WD-40 next to any of the ones you have had in your box for years.
It just makes you wonder what other secret flies Mark has tucked away