Albert R. Mann Library
Photograph by Charles Lindsay
Illustration of natural and imitative dragonflies

Artificial fly patterns are often described as being either “imitators” or “attractors” An imitator mimics a particular species of insect or other fish prey. An attractor, on the other hand, is designed to trigger an attack response from the fish, rather than to resemble any specific prey. In practice, of course, these tidy categorizations fail; all fly patterns are, by definition, attractors.