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Trout Fly Fishing Basics; Three Different Types of Fly Fishing Flies

Fly Fishing Flies

For those new to fly fishing, the world of fly fishing flies can seem overwhelming. Nymph flies, streamers, dry, wet, and that is before we even get  to the fly line. Understanding the different types of flies and fly patterns and how to use them is fundamental to this angling technique. There are three main types of flies and how to use them that every fly fisherman should be familiar with: dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. These flies cater to different stages of aquatic insect life and fishing techniques, providing a rich variety of options to choose from.

Types of Fly Fishing Flies:

Dry Flies:

Dry flies are a specialized form of fly fishing designed to imitate insects that float on the surface of the water. They are often a favorite among fly fishers because of the excitement they bring when trout rise to take the fly. Dry fly fishing is like no other, as it requires the angler to see the fly and carefully observe the water and the insect activity. These flies imitate specific types of insects, such as mayflies, caddisflies, or stoneflies, that are found at the surface of the water. The main challenge in dry fly fishing is figuring out what fly the trout are eating and presenting it in a way that entices them to eat your fly. Also, you have to watch your dry fly pattern float in the surface because if you can't see the fly, you won't see the trout eat the fly. Dry flies are designed to float on the surface and drift downstream with the current. Cast upstream and allow the fly to drift on it's own down to feeding fish.  

Nymph and Wet Flies:

A nymph is a fly that imitates the juvenile stage of aquatic insects, are the most versatile type of fly. Nymph fishing often involves a subsurface presentation, as these insects are not yet at the surface. These flies are tied to match various types of insects in different stages of their life cycle. Wet flies, on the other hand, mimic adult insects that have fallen into the water and are submerged. Nymph and wet fly fishing can be productive year-round, as they cater to a trout's primary food source beneath the surface. It is important to get the fly to the right depth so sometimes weight is attached to the leader above the fly. Nymphs come in a variety of different sizes to mimic the different flies found under the rocks. When fishing for trout, flip over some rocks and try to match your fly to what you find. Again, like you fish a dry fly, cast upstream and allow the nymph to travel along the current. 


Streamer fishing is the most dynamic and aggressive type of fly fishing, so make sure you have a few in your fly box. Streamer flies are usually large and often resemble baitfish, leeches, or other aquatic creatures. When streamer flies are fished, you're mimicking a fleeing or injured prey, which can trigger aggressive strikes from predatory fish like trout or bass. This type of fly fishing involves actively retrieving the fly through the water, making it a highly engaging fishing technique. Streamer flies come in various sizes and colors, giving anglers ample choices to match the preferences of the fish they're targeting. Cover the body of water you are fishing in a 180 degree arch and allow the fly to get lower in the water column before retrieving.

Choosing The Best Fly Pattern From Your Fly Selection

Choosing the best fly for the water you're fishing and the species you're pursuing is crucial to a successful fly fishing experience. While these three types of flies cover a wide range of possibilities, there are countless variations within each category. Whether you're fly fishing trout with a streamer, presenting a delicate dry fly to a rising fish, or drifting a nymph pattern through a riffle, your fly selection plays a pivotal role in your success as a new fly angler.

When in doubt about which fly to use, seeking guidance from your local fly shop or experienced fly fishers can help you pick the right fly for the conditions and fish you're targeting. As you delve deeper into the world of fly fishing, you'll discover the satisfaction of choosing the best fly to match the hatch, the excitement of watching a trout take your fly, and the endless learning opportunities that this timeless angling technique offers.

Blue Winged Olive


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