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Home Trout Foods How to Choose a Trout Fly Pattern


How to Choose the Right Trout Fly Pattern


Choosing a trout fly




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     Many fly fishermen are avid collectors of fly patterns and carry multiple fly boxes to hold them all; thus the reason fly vests have so many pockets. While this is often not necessary on some the larger streams and rivers where hatches of a particular species of insect happen regularly during the same month and even on the same day and same time of day each year, it is helpful to have a wide ranging selection of flies when fishing the smaller streams because hatches are not nearly as predictable on such steams. Also, it is important to be aware that trout do have small teeth which can be very hard on a fly. Thus, it is a good rule of thumb to carry at least three flies of any given pattern and size so that if you happen to find a pattern that is catching fish that day, your day won't end early because you have run out of flies.

How to Choose the Right Trout Fly Pattern?

     As you approach the stream, take some time to observe the surface of the water and the air above it to see if any insects are presently hatching. If so, then capture one and choose a fly pattern to match it in size and color (called matching the hatch). However, if there is no hatch presently happening, matching the hatch is not possible. So, instead, try examining the streamside foliage (especially the undersides of leaves) to see what types of insects inhabit the stream you are fishing and again choose a fly pattern to match in size and color. But, since insect activity tends to lull during the period from mid-morning to late afternoon, then you might want to try prospecting with "attractor" patterns instead. Attractors are fly patterns that imitate natural insects in size and shape but are tied in bright, non-natural, color patterns to attract the trout and convince them to strike. In fact, dry fly patterns such as the Royal Wulff, Grizzly Wulff, Tennessee Wulff, Royal Coachman, Humpy, and Tellico are all examples of Attractor patterns that work well. In addition, you need to remember that trout are opportunistic ambush predators and, as long as they are not feeding selectively on a particular species of hatching insect, they will often attack almost anything that looks alive and edible.


However, when there is a hatch coming off, the trout will see an over-abundance of nymphs, pupae, emergers, or duns of the same size and color drifting in the water column and thus they tend to become very selective about the flies that that they will take for the duration of the hatch. So, when trout are actively feeding on a hatch, it is very important to capture and match the size, color, and stage of the particular insect they are presently feeding on.


Also, although dry flies are most fly fisherman’s favorite pattern to fish because it is exciting to be able to see the fish take the fly, the surface world is both alien and uncomfortable to trout so they avoid it as much as possible. Therefore, since trout often obtain up to 90% of their food underwater, sub-surface patterns are generally far more effective than dry flies. In addition, is it important to understand that during non-hatch periods, larger fish often prefer larger meals so the larger the fly you use, the larger the fish you are likely to catch. But, always keep in mind that there are exceptions to EVERY rule!

Doc Trout's Fly Fishing Tip - My Three Color Attractor System combined with my Six Color Imitator System will allow you carry all of the dry flies you need in one box to enable yourself to fly fish anywhere in America at any time of year that dry flies are appropriate. The same concept applied to nymphs and streamers in addition to dry flies will provide you with a year round selection that will enable you to fly fish anywhere in America at any time of year. In addition, during the appropriate time of year, it is a wise idea to replace your Blue Winged Olive patterns with Eastern Green Drake patters until the Green Drakes are done hatching.







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