Different Types of Flies for Fly Fishing

In this article, we dive into the types of flies that are important for us while we are fly fishing. If you’ve been to your local fly shop lately you’ll notice that there are new fly patterns all the time. But these are never your fried and true natural flies, they are typically based on stimulator patterns.

It is these natural fly patterns that we will look at in this article. We’ll learn the different flies that we base our flies on. If you’re interested in the trout flies themselves instead of learning about the insects then check out our articles on fly patterns here. Otherwise, on with the show.

Types of Flies For Fly Fishing

Some flies aim to closely resemble the natural forage that the trout are feeding on. At times, trout can be very selective feeders who will feast on just one type of insect, so it’s important to know what is hatching when.

A top tip is to take a close look on and around the water and pick up some stones along the river or lake bank, to discover what the most common local bugs are. Once you know this, try to replicate the look of these insects to trick the fish into mistaking your fly for one.

Other flies are just simply attractor flies – they look flashy and eye-catching to grab the attention of the fish and tempt them to eat. These can work well if you’re not sure what the trout are eating.

You’ll find that some flies work better than others depending on your location, the time of year, or even the water temperature or conditions.

However, the following flies all come highly recommended by pro fly fishermen and women as being versatile, effective, and sure to hook you that trout! Grab a few of these and you will be ready for your best fishing trip yet!

Types of Flies For Fly Fishing

The different kinds of flies for fly fishing are:

Streamer Flies

Streamer flies are a very useful way of fishing year-round. The flies are big and they imitate crayfish, baitfish, and hellgrammites. They make it possible for a fisherman to cover a large surface of the water while streamer fly fishing.

They are an excellent choice if you are unsure of what the fish are eating. Streamers are, therefore, convenient if you are fishing in unfamiliar waters. They make it possible to reduce boredom as you need to move the fly a lot. There are a few streamer flies that you need to have if you are looking to catch some of the bigger boys and want to catch fish consistently when you are out at your favorite lake.

Even though getting out there to fish is nice enough, it’s even better to actually catch some fish. Streamer flies increase your chances of catching some nice trout without a lot of struggle. Fly fishing during early spring can be a bit challenging but streamers make it a lot easier.

Picking the right streamer flies is key to your success in snatching some river monsters. We are going to show you some of the leading streamer flies that will help improve your fishing. Pick your fly box for streamers here so you can properly store them.


Mayflies are one of the most common flies that trout feed on. They make up a large portion of my fly box and they should to in yours too. Mayflies hatches are commonplace alongside the river throughout the warmer months of the year. Fished as a nymph, an emerger and as a dry fly, the chances are you will typically be able to catch a trout just about anywhere with a mayfly pattern. Use a floating flyline with a tapered leader to get the best results. The key when fishing mayflies (and just about any other fly) is to make sure there is absolutely no drag as is floats downstream. Drag can be avoided through by adding slack to the line in the cast or doing an upstream mend prior to reaching the fist.



As you probably know if you’ve ever cast a line, stoneflies make up a big part of the trout’s diet in because trout find them absolutely delicious. They are also popular because they are very easy to find and you can find them in almost all parts of the world. 

They are available at any times of the year – talk about a versatile fly! You can use them for early spring fly fishing as they hatch in early spring and the trout are familiar with the pattern. Some of the black stonefly nymph could be bigger than five cm. The adult stonefly has two pairs of long wings with membranes. 

The wings are folded at the back and they are sometimes known as flatwings because of their distinct appearance. Even though they have long wings, stoneflies are not very good at flying. To recognize a stonefly, remember that they have long antennae and two little tails.

Stonefly nymph patterns may be helpful when everything else fails. Once you find the right pattern for your local fish, you can get some really big ones. There are thousands of stonefly varieties all over the world. 

They dwell in clean environments so you may not find them where the quality of water is low.  All of them have a fairly uniform appearance even though the colors and size may vary. Some of the most common stonefly species include; salmonfly, skwala, yellow sally, and large golden stone.

Caddis fly

Caddis fly patterns are made to imitate the different life stages of the caddis. It is one of the most basic sources of food for trout. This makes it a top choice for most anglers. You can find caddis patterns in almost all waterways including still waters and streams. Trout mostly feed on caddis in the stages of larva or pupa. This, however, does not mean trout don’t feed on the adult caddis. They sometimes even rise to the top for the adult caddis.

Once the caddis hatches from the egg, it gets to the larval stage. The caddis larva can be found at the bottom, usually in a hard shell casing. The larva is popularly known as the horn-cased caddis. The caddis will come from the bottom to the surface of the water when it gets to the pupa stage. It will only return to the bottom to lay eggs. The eggs go to the bottom of the river and the cycle continues.

In the larval stage, there are patterns such as the Green Caddis Larvae, Tungsten Brown Caddis, and Green Caddis Nymph. Patterns in the adult stage include the Dry Caddis and Goddard’s Caddis. 



If you are one of the many anglers that are intimidated by midge fly fishing , you may be missing out. Midge fishing gives you the opportunity to enhance your fishing experience in still water, spring creeks, and tailwaters as they make up about half of the trout’s food in some watersheds. 

Midges patterns are great at all times of the year. Most species can go through a complete life cycle in only a few weeks. This sets them apart from other flies. Some of the most common midges are chironomids. Even though they are smaller than other aquatic insects, midges can have a huge population. They are a great food option for trout throughout the year.

Understanding the life cycle of midges can make midge fishing a much simpler experience. You must be able to find the right flies to mimic their different life cycles. Midges come in thousands of species but that does not mean that things have to be complicated. 

Pick any midge that works for you. You do not need to know every one of them. You may use colour formula, shape, and size to narrow down your options. It is difficult to go wrong.


What is the most popular fly for fly fishing?

The most popular fly for fly fishing is the Woolly Bugger. This fly is designed to imitate a wide variety of aquatic insects and has been used successfully for trout, bass, panfish, and other species.

How do I know what flies to use?

The best way to know what flies to use is to research the body of water you are fishing and the species of fish you are targeting. Different types of flies may be better suited for certain species or water conditions.

You can also consult with experienced fly-fishers or guides to learn more about the best flies to use.

What fly is best for trout?

The Elk Hair Caddis is one of the best flies for trout. This fly is designed to imitate a caddisfly and is 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. Dry flies are designed to float on the surface of the water and imitate adult insects.

Wet flies are designed to sink and imitate aquatic insects. Nymphs are designed to imitate the immature stages of aquatic insects. Streamers are designed to imitate small baitfish.

What flies do big trout like?

Big trout typically like larger flies that imitate baitfish, crayfish, and large aquatic insects. Popular streamer patterns for big trout include the Woolly Bugger, Muddler Minnow, and Clouser Minnow. Other popular patterns for big trout include the Stimulator, Prince Nymph, and Hare’s Ear Nymph.

The Wrap Up

Hopefully this article could shed some light on the different types of flies used for fly fishing. Some of these are cheap flies that are very helpful for beginners. At Fly Fisher Pro we’ve been studying these flies for years, and we still make mistakes.

Time and time again we say that it’s much more important to fish the flies properly as opposed to selecting the perfect fly. Though it does help, ultimately if you’ve got one of the best trout flies on your tippet, and your drift is drag free, you’re likely to land a fish!

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