The Truth About Trout Fishing Flies

by Jimmy Kingsley - Date: 2010-08-23 - Word Count: 584 Share This!

One of the best (and most exciting) ways to catch trout is the fly fishing technique. Contrary to popular belief trout do 90% of their feeding below the water's surface, but the remaining 10% are more than enough to support this growing pastime. In fly fishing, as opposed to spinner or live bait fishing, it is the weight of the line that allows the bait (an artificial fly) to be cast. Modern technology has given us literally thousands of types of artificial flies created using fur, hair, feathers, plant materials, and synthetic materials tied onto a hook using the thread. With so much variety it may seem impossible to choose, but it's really easy: find out what the trout are looking for and give it to them.

Dry Flies : Imitators & Attractors

Dry flies float on the surface. The two main categories of dry flies are imitators and attractors. Imitators mimic the look, size, shape, and color, of real flies like mayflies or caddis flies. In the summer, particularly when there has been a bug hatch, trout are looking for mayflies or caddis flies to eat. During these lots of real flies are buzzing around near the water's surface. You should pay attention to the size and color of the flies in the area you are fishing and try to select an artificial fly that is similar. The "elk" caddis fly is a popular imitator that comes in various colors like brown, grey, olive, or tan. Another popular caddis imitator is the "peacock" caddis, that from the front has a semi-circular spread, hence its name. One of my favorite imitators is the Parachute Adams. This mayfly imitator has the built in ability to "parachute" softly onto the water's surface, with the parachute also making the fly more visible to trout.

Attractors, on the other hand, don't look like bugs to us humans, but fortunately look very tasty to a trout. They are unlike anything occurring naturally, but something about their color, patterns, or movement attracts fish. In fact, Lee Wulff, the creator of the ever popular Royal Wulff attractor fly once commented that his fly didn't look like a real fly, but instead it looked like a dessert, a strawberry shortcake to a fish! Two other popular attractors are the Royal Coachman Trude, and the Adams Trude. Since they don't look like real bugs, using attractors is more an art than a science. Trial and error is the name of the game, so make sure to bring a variety. It's also a good idea to buy at least three of each fly. You're guaranteed to lose one and you need a copy of the one the fish ate so you know what to buy on your next trip to the gear shop.


90% of the fish are feeding under the surface on immature bug larvae or "nymphs." Nymph bait either imitates real bug larvae or uses the attractor concept. Nymphing can be frustrating for beginners, because it adds the third dimension of depth. The trick is to get the fly to sink to just the right depth where the fish are feeding, while not hitting the bottom and snagging on rocks and plants. Some popular nymph baits are Bead Head Nymphs, Hare's Ear Nymphs, and Pheasant Tail Nymphs. Don't give up even if you line snags a few times. Fly fishing with nymphs takes practice, but since 90% of the fish are feeding below the surface, it's the best way to take your fishing to the next level.

Related Tags: trout fishing, dry flies, trout fishing flies

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