Fishing Flies for Trout

Fishing Flies for Trout

You can carry a lot of flies and many fly boxes. Many fly fishermen do so. But we tend to be gearheads and often overdo the flies we carry. I carry four fly boxes in my chest pack. Three for nymphs and one for dry flies and several streamers. If you choose flies that can imitate more than one insect or life stage, it will cut down on the amount you have to carry. Listed are some of my favorite flies for the major insect groups. These flies will work in most western streams or lakes and many midwestern or eastern trout streams too.

  • Mayflies – Nymphs – an RS2 in grey, black or olive in sizes 14 through 24 will represent most mayfly nymphs during a season. A pheasant tail or gold ribbed pheasant tail nymph in sizes 16 through 22 will work for many other mayflies particularly the Baetis group. Another good emerger is Barr’s emerger for an all around Baetis nymph. A grey parachute Adams in sizes 14 thru 24 will work for a Mayfly dry fly. 
  • Caddis flies – my favorite is the beadhead goldribbed hares ear with a flashback or a turkeyquill wingcase. A plain gold ribbed hares ear with a cinnamon turkey quill wingcase is also excellent. Pick out guard hairs in the thorax to represent legs and give motion. The hare’s ear is a dynamite fly. Barr’s Graphic Caddis Emerger in tan and olive sizes 16 and 18 is another excellent caddis fly.
  • Stone Flies – The twenty incher, the beadhead goldribbed flashback hares ear in sizes 8, 10 or 12 and Pat’s rubber leg stone in sizes 6 through 12 is a hot stone fly. The rubber legs provide motion  and sound vibration to attract a trout’s attention. Pat’s rubber legs is one of the hottest flies around because it works. It is tied as a weighted fly. Use it as your point fly trailed by a beadhead hares hear or Barr’s Graphic caddis.
  • Midge – If I was only going to carry one fly for midge nymphs, it would be the bead head zebra midge or the black beauty. These flies in sizes 14 through 24 or 26 in grey, olive, black, or tan will cover about all the midge group of nymphs. Use a Parachute Adams of appropriate size for the dry fly stage. Or a Griffiths Gnat in sizes 20 and 22 works good for imitating a midge cluster.
  • Aquatic Worms – These are worms that live in the water year round. A san juan worm is a simple pattern in orange, red, light tan or brown. Use an ultra or micro chenille for the body. Cut a piece about 2 inches long, singe the ends closed with a lighter and tie it on the hook. Not much simpler than that. This is a good fly to learn when beginning fly tying.
  • Streamers – The Clouser Minnow in white and black or olive and black, muddler minnow and the Little Brown Trout would be some of my favorite streamers.
  • Teresterials – Dave’s hopper or the Charlie Boy Hopper are excellent patterns. Amy’s ant can double as a hopper or a large ant.

    Mice – take a Zonker streamer, tie the rabbit strip down to the hook, add some marabou to make a larger body, put some fly tying foam on top of all of it and rib with wire to segment the body and hold it together. Makes a fast mouse pattern. Black, grey or tan. A segment of rabbit fur could also be used to form the body and tail with the foam upper body. Or use mink fur and foam.

These are certainly not all the flies you will eventually carry but they will get you started with a good basic set for all season use.

Tight Lines,

Marshall Estes, Author
"Successful Fly Fishing for Trout"