How To Pick The Right Fly - What Flies You Should Use

How To Pick The Right Fly – What Flies You Should Use

The specific fly you should use depends on many factors, and you can be sure that no matter which fly you pick, someone will tell you it‘s wrong. But listen to the fish, not the fishermen. Each fish has its own food—and fly—preferences.

Flies for Bass

If you’re fishing for bass in shallow water, bass bugs, poppers, and sliders are effective. Smallmouth bass will also take wet flies, nymphs, and dry flies. Smallmouth bass seem to prefer yellow lures; in fact, for both small- and largemouth bass, the Sneaky Pete, a slider with yellow rubber legs, is one of the best choices.

When bass are at water depths greater than 4′, streamers and bucktails are quite effective, especially the Dahlberg Diver, shown here.

Flies for Panfish

Members of the sunfish family can be caught with small poppers and bushy dry flies, in shallow water near lily pads and weeds. If the sun is directly overhead, try wet flies fished very slowly about 2′ below the surface. A #14 Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear (a nymph) is also great for sunfish.

Yellow perch move in schools and will readily take small (sizes #10–14) streamers, bucktails, and wet flies. Chasing the schools as they roam about a pond can be great fun.

Crappie can be caught on large wet flies as well as on small streamers and bucktails fished a few feet below the surface. The Bead-Head Gold-Ribbed Hare’s-Ear, in sizes #12–14, fished very slowly in water up to 5′ deep, is effective.

Flies for Pike and Pickerel

Any minnow imitation will work on members of the pike family. Pike and pickerel are ambush hunters and, in moderate to warm water, usually lurk near cover, waiting for a prey-fish to pass near, then dart out quickly to grab it. Choose a brightly colored streamer or bucktail in a size similar to the small fish in the lake, and fish it fast, parallel to a weed bed or drop-off. Be sure to add a foot of thick monofilament between the leader and the hook—otherwise the pike’s sharp teeth will bite right through your tippet.

Flies for Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout

Fly fishing for trout requires that you use the best imitation of the food that trout are currently eating: mayflies, caddis flies, stone flies, terrestrials, baitfish, and/or crustaceans. So if small yellow mayflies are hatching on the river you’re fishing, you might use a #16 Parachute Sulphur.

Because insects vary in color and size on different rivers even within the same watershed, consult the manager of the nearest fly shop to get his fly choices for the current season. Nonetheless, regardless of specific conditions, you’ll tend to find the following staple lures in most fly boxes.

Specific Flies
Dry flies
  • Adams Dry, #14–18
  • Parachute Sulphur, #14–18
  • Blue Wing Olive, #14–18
  • Elkhair Caddis, #12–18
  • Hairwing Royal Coachman (also known as the Royal Wulff), #12–14
Wet flies
  • Black Gnat, #12–14
  • Leadwing Coachman, #12–16
  • Light Cahill, #12–16
  • Montreal, #12–14
  • Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear, #14
  • Yellow Marabou Muddler, #6–10
  • Black Ghost, #6–10
  • Hamil’s Killer or Hornberg, #6–8
  • Wooly Bugger (Black), #6–10
  • Warden’s Worry, #6–8
  • Blacknose Dace, #8–10
  • Zug Bug, #12
  • Prince Nymph, #12–16
  • Hare’s Ear, #12–18

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