Fly Fishing Flies for Trout

Just a casual walk past the fly fishing flies available at your local fly shop and you will wonder how you will ever know which fly you should use. There are hundreds of them.

There seems to be a fly for every stage of every insect. The good news is you don’t have to get it exactly right.

Something close in design and size will often work just fine.

Trout feed primarily on two different groups of insects. These include aquatic insects that start their life in the water, and terrestrial insects such as ants and grasshoppers.

Aquatic insects spend the first part of their life cycle in the water. They include mayfly, caddis, stonefly and midges.

Terrestrial insects fall or are blown into the water from overhanging branches nearby.

There are trout flies tied to imitate these different insects and the different stages of their lives.

  • The nymph fly imitates the egg or larva stage of the insect. They also imitate an emerging fly that is on its way to the surface or is in the top layer of the water. 
  • The dry fly imitates the flies as they lay eggs on the water, are blown by the wind back to the water or have died. They also imitate terrestrial insects.
  • Streamers are designed to imitate small minnows or other aquatic life. 

I would like to thank Ken Evoy and the staff at SBI for giving me the tools to build this site. 

Fly Fishing Nymphs

Nymphs imitate immature insects and larvae. The flies that are water-bred spend a lot of time in the water. These immature insects make up over 80% of a trout’s diet. Knowing something about the underwater life of the stream can be very helpful here. Turning over a rock and using an aquarium net can be very helpful in your research.

Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Orange

Trout Dry Flies

As fly fishing flies go, these are the easiest to fish, because they sit on the surface of the water.

OK, maybe not real easy.

You must make a delicate presentation and it is really important to maintain a natural drift with this fly.

It is a lot of fun to watch a rising trout take your fly off the surface.

Blue Wing Olive


Streamers imitate small minnows, sculpins, leeches, crayfish or other foods. They can be fished using a swing of the fly across the current, retrieved downstream or even using a drag free dead drift. See Fly Fishing with Streamers. They are often retrieved in short pulls in a short darting motion to imitate a struggling or injured minnow.

Tube flies are becoming a very popular way to tie and fish streamers.

Mickey Finn Streamer

Summary of Fly Fishing Flies

When learning the fly fishing basics and which flies to use, you need first of all to be observant. Look under rocks; watch the water and what is flying around you. If you can’t match it exactly, then just get close in color and size.

A stop at the local fly shop is always a good idea. Let them know where you are going so they can help.

Working on your casting skills and presentation is also very important.

Save 50% on Fly Assortment Boxes for Trout