The term fly refers to an ever widening variety of artificial lures used in fly fishing. A fly can be anything from a musky streamer bigger than your shoe to a minute midge pattern smaller than the letters on this page. The type of fly you select depends on what type of fish you are trying to catch, what kind of water they swim in, and what is going on in their natural environment.
I have caught bass on trout flies and trout on bass flies, but those are often the exception and not the rule. I have selected the flies on these pages based on my own experience. They are consistent producers, and often have been for a very long time. There are thousands of fly patterns available, and if you choose to enter the fascinating world of fly tying (and I suggest you do) you will be able to customize them to your specific local streams. I recommend that you keep things simple, stick to the flies that you have the greatest confidence in and keep several different sizes and colors of those patterns on hand when you fish. I also pack different fly boxes for the different species I may encounter on any given trip, I spent a very fun afternoon catching large mouth bass in a state trout park not too long ago. If I only had my trout gear on me I would have missed out!
I have broken flies down based on the fish they are used to target. This website focuses primarily on North American fresh water fish, but because so many of these patterns mimic prey generally they will work pretty much anywhere in the world depending what you are fishing for. I have broken them down into trout, bass and big game, and panfish. Regardless of the species you will fish for when selecting flies there are a few things you need to know:
Type: Most flies are going to be broken down into a few types. For trout there are three main types, dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. Dry flies represent the adult flies that lay their eggs on the water and ride on the surface, often with the aid of a flotant. Nymphs represent represent the larval stages of there various aquatic insects that all fish eat. They swim at all levels of the water column, and represent as much as 90% or more of many fishes diets. When they get larger however, streamers are what we use. Streamers represent the larger swimming prey like hellgrammites, minnows, and other prey items. Aside from trout flies you also have bass bugs, which also float on top of the water and are used to mimic larger insects, frogs, wounded baitfish, and ever small birds.
Size: The size of the fly is classified by even numbers and the higher the number, the smaller the fly. The converse is also true, the lower the number, the larger the fly. The picture above is of 3 size 26 trout flies sitting on a dime. Believe it or not those aren’t the smallest flies available, they are just the smallest flies I tie. I also tie much larger, multi hook flies designed for big game. The general rule is the bigger the fly, the bigger the fish. However large trout do eat tiny bugs, and my personal best brown trout was caught on a size 22 grey scud, which is pretty small. More and more fly fishermen are using larger streamers now to target large predatory brown trout, and they often find themselves also catching good sized bass as well.
Materials: Besides the shape of the fly, the materials it is constructed of will give you a good indicator of how it was designed to be fished. If they fly has a still collar of hackle in front behind the eye and a long tail behind it is likely a dry fly. If it has fluffy, flowy, feathers, it is likely a streamer. If you see a glass, brass, or tungsten bead, it was designed to sink, and is likely a nymph. If it looks like a frog, a baby bird, or a small floating alien, then you have a bass bug or bug game fly on your hands. Of course there are exceptions to all of those rules, and there are even some flies that are designed to float on top for the drift only to be stripped back subsurface. The variety of fly materials is mind boggling, but the variety and creativity that you can enjoy is part of what makes the sport so much fun!
Click the links below to find what you are looking for.