Different Types of Flies for Fly Fishing

different types of fly fishing

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Let’s take a dive into the world of fly fishing, and more specifically, the flies that make all the difference. Sure, you can head to your local fly shop and pick up the latest patterns, but the real magic lies in understanding the natural flies they’re based on. Sound interesting? If you’re more into the actual trout flies rather than their insect counterparts, you might want to check out our articles on fly patterns here. But if you’re ready to explore the world of natural fly patterns, let’s get started.

Types of Flies For Fly Fishing

When it comes to fly fishing, some flies are designed to mimic the natural forage trout feast on. Sometimes trout can be pretty picky, feasting on just one type of insect. So, knowing what’s hatching when can be crucial. A good tip is to examine the water and its surroundings, even picking up a few stones along the river or lake bank to see what bugs are local. Once you have a good idea, try to mimic those insects with your flies.

Types of Flies For Fly Fishing

Then there are the attractor flies – these flashy, eye-catching flies are designed to grab the attention of fish and tempt them to bite. They’re great when you’re unsure of what the trout are feeding on.

Of course, some flies are more effective than others, and this can depend on factors like location, time of year, water temperature, and conditions. But the following flies come highly recommended by seasoned fly fishers. They’re versatile, effective, and sure to help you hook that trout!

Streamer Flies

Streamer flies are a fantastic fishing tool all year round. These large flies imitate crayfish, baitfish, and hellgrammites, allowing you to cover a large area of water. They’re a great choice when you’re unsure of what the fish are eating or when you’re fishing in unfamiliar waters. Since you have to move the fly a lot, they also help to keep things exciting. Streamer flies can be a ticket to catching some larger fish consistently when you’re out at your favorite lake. They particularly shine during early spring fly fishing, a time that can otherwise be challenging.


Mayflies are a staple in the trout diet and thus, a large portion of any fly fisher’s fly box. Mayflies hatches are a common sight by the river during the warmer months. You can fish them as a nymph, an emerger, or as a dry fly, making them versatile and effective. The key to fishing mayflies is ensuring a drag-free drift downstream.



Stoneflies are a trout favorite and are found in almost all parts of the world, making them a popular choice for fly fishers. They are available throughout the year, and their nymph patterns can be a lifesaver when all else fails. Stoneflies are recognized by their long antennae and two little tails. Some of the most common stonefly species include salmonfly, skwala, yellow sally, and large golden stone.

Caddis fly

Caddis fly patterns imitate the different life stages of the caddis, a primary food source for trout. These patterns are found in almost all waterways, making them a top choice for anglers. While trout mostly feed on the larval or pupa stages of caddis, they sometimes rise to the surface for the adult caddis too.


Midge fishing is often overlooked, but it can significantly enhance your fishing experience. Midges make up about half of the trout’s food in some watersheds and can be used throughout the year, thanks to their short life cycle. Understanding the life cycle of midges can simplify midge fishing immensely. It’s all about finding the right flies to mimic their different life stages.


What is the most popular fly for fly fishing?

The Woolly Bugger is often considered the most popular fly for fly fishing. It’s designed to imitate a wide variety of aquatic insects and has been used successfully for various species, including trout, bass, and panfish.

How do I know what flies to use?

Researching the body of water you’re fishing and the species of fish you’re targeting is a good start. You can also consult with experienced fly fishers or guides for advice.

What fly is best for trout?

The Elk Hair Caddis is one of the best flies for trout. It’s designed to imitate a caddisfly, making it a versatile pattern that works well in a variety of conditions. Other popular patterns for trout include the Adams, Hare’s Ear, and Parachute Adams.

What are the four types of flies?

The four main types of flies are dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, and streamers.

What flies do big trout like?

Big trout generally prefer larger flies that imitate baitfish, crayfish, and large aquatic insects.

The Wrap Up

Navigating the world of flies for fly fishing can be complex, but hopefully, this article has shed some light on the topic. Remember, the important thing is not just selecting the perfect fly, but also fishing the flies properly. With one of the best trout flies on your tippet and a drag-free drift, you’re well on your way to landing a fish!

Ready to take your fly fishing knowledge to the next level? Download our series of fly fishing books below for more tips, tricks, and insights. Happy fishing!

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