Buyers Guide - What Flies Should I Buy?

The one thing you HAVE to have in fly fishing is flies.  That literal last thing on the end of your line that is what fools the fish into eating is really the most important thing in all of your gear.  How do you go about selecting flies to buy and what's most important to get to start with are questions we see all the time.  Whether you plan to tie your own flies or buy them pre-made, let's go over a few major points that fishermen sometimes miss when they first start.

1. Buy a Few of Each Pattern

You are bound to lose flies.  Don't be the person who buys one of everything and when something is working you don't have any extras.  Our site offers a discount when you buy them at a half dozen per pattern and that's a great place to start.  Be sure to have some back up flies of the same pattern for when you snap off a fish, get snagged on the bottom, or put your cast in a tree.  You'll be glad to have a few extras of that fly, especially if it's working for the day.

2. Must Have Flies for Beginners

We can always get really technical, but when it comes to a trout's diet, the vast majority of it is sub-surface.  The nymph form in terms of the lifecycle of an aquatic insect is sometimes 364 out of 365 days.  So that makes it a regular part of a trout's diet each and every day.  Having a good selection of nymph patterns is key to a successful day on the water.

General Attractor Nymphs

General attractor nymphs are flies that don't imitate a specific bug, and they should be in everyone's box.  These flies will catch fish any place, any time and need to be a part of every fly fisherman's box.  We prefer ones with bead heads, either brass or tungsten, to help assist in getting the flies to the lower water column where the fish are located.

Types of general attractor nymphs include:

Junk Flies

Junk flies are flies that don't imitate a bug but something that just looks like a tasty snack to a fish.  These flies save many days with a few fish in the net. Types of junk flies include: 

3. Types of Flies for Specific Scenarios

To get the best haul of fish, choose the best fly according to the conditions. Below, we lay out two different scenarios and which flies you should use for each.

Heavy Surface Activity

Use attractor dry flies when you see bugs hatching and fish eat on the surface of the water. These are flies that imitate a species of bug like a mayfly, caddisfly or stonefly, but not a specific one. Certain dry fly patterns can imitate many flies out there without being specific to the exact hatch.

High Water and Big Fish

Use streamers when the water is up or the fist want a big meal.  These are some patterns that you definitely want to throw when the water is up or colored or want to target some bigger fish.  Sometimes the adage of bigger meal bigger fish is true so don't be afraid to throw some meat.  Tried and true patterns like wooly buggers, slump busters, and even some articulated patterns like butt monkeys, and mike's meal ticket will turn that day around with a fish you're proud to show a picture off to your buddies.

4. Organize Your Flies in a Fly Box (or Two)

Organization is key when you're out on the water.  Sort your flies by having each type in its own box.  Streamers in one, dries in another, and nymphs in another is a great place to start.  As you add more flies to your collection, you may get more specific, but you'll be thankful that you know where each of your flies are with them separated this way.  We love the silicone boxes for many of these flies.

 5. Seasonally Expand Your Fly Selection

As you spend more time on the water and gain experience, you'll add flies to your kit.  You'll learn to match specific flies for specific situations: dry flies to mach hatches, different flies for other species like bass, steelhead, saltwater, etc. and other patterns you just like to fish or find success using.  Don't try to add everything all at once but add a few flies each season.  You'll keep accumulating things and find the ones you like the most.  Replenish those flies as you lose them or they break down and get in a comfort zone of what you need each year.  

6. Have Fun

This is most important.  Don't stress whether you have 10 flies or 1,000 flies in your boxes.  Enjoy your day on the water and find your comfort zone for what flies are needed and what aren't.  Have a great time fishing and get some good stories to tell.

1 comment

  • James

    Good stuff! Thanks.

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