Hogan Brown grew up an only child who really, really liked catching fish—growing up on Northern California's Yuba River banks. He'll be the first to tell you that his obsession with bugs didn't exactly fit the mold for the cool kid of his neighborhood block. Thus he developed a penchant for solitary activities like fly fishing and playing guitar. As soon as he was old enough to have a job, he began working at his local fly shop in Nevada City. From there, he explored all aspects of the fly fishing industry from behind fly shop counters and in lodges, manager of an outfitting business and a non-profit, and even a brief stint as a corporate rep before realizing that he preferred an outside office. Through it, he remained rooted in the trenches as a guide—and has never looked back.
Guiding trout, steelhead, bass, carp, honestly anything that swims in any body of water, you could say this guy knows a thing or two about fish and their preferred meals. This is why we couldn't wait to bring on the Lil Amigo fly designed by none other than Hogan Brown.
We sat down with Hogan to get the skinny on this seriously effective mayfly nymph.
How did you draw inspiration for the Lil' Amigo?
When I released my S&M nymph pattern, it wasn't long before every guide boat on my local river was dragging my old secret fly under their indicators. I had to come up with something else. So, I started working on a new small mayfly nymph that would fish as well or better than the S&M. I tweaked a few things that I thought were elements fish were getting hip to on the S&M nymph.
A memorable experience fishing this fly?
For a few weeks, I committed to fishing and developing the final version of this fly. Each day I'd head out with a dozen or so fly variations in olive and brown. One day, while guiding a busy section of water where I assumed every fish in the river had seen the S&M is when the light bulb finally clicked.
The fish had been chowing baetis in the flats for a few days, so I put my guy in the front of the boat with a double S&M rig (olive and brown) and the guy in the back of the boat with a double Lil' Amigo rig (olive and brown) and purposefully got in and fished behind other boats. While the guy in the front of the boat got some fish, the guy in the back SMOKED his buddy for a few hours at the beginning of the day – fish engorged themselves on the Lil Amigo, and it really helped me have faith that I had created a fly that was as good or better than what I had already put out. This gave me the trust and confidence to stick with developing the fly and getting it out to the people.
Favorite water to use this fly?
My home waters of the Lower Yuba River, Lower Sacramento River, and other Northern California Trout water, but those shall remain nameless. Honestly, fish this in long slow runs and seams.
What techniques do you use when fishing the Lil' Amigo?
Heavy USA nymph rigs, light nymph rigs, sorta heavy/light nymph rigs, eastern european nymph rigs, tight line nymph rigs, dry dropper rigs, drop shot rigs with a power bait trailer, and occasionally Texas. (Basically anyway you want to fish the Lil' Amigo, do it and you won't regret it.)