Fly Fishing Flies


Choosing the best pattern for fly fishing doesn’t have to be complicated. When took up the fly application I used to just park up, pull on my waders, pick a fly pattern and start fishing, hoping the Trout would bite. This was obviously less than ideal, but after many practice hours, I learnt the importance of taking your time. There is a logical set of steps which need to be completed to give you the best fly set up. The most important of which is checking the conditions and thoroughly investigating the waterway you are going to be fishing in.


The first thing you need to do is get yourself streamside and check the conditions. Look for the wind direction and strength but also the water level and temperature and the air temperature. Think about how active the fish are likely to be. See if you can see any, what depth are they cruising at? Are there any insects on the water? Are they flying above the water’s surface?

If they are flying over fairly, clean, shallow water, so the fish can see them, something dry should do the trick. If they are on the water’s surface but the fish aren’t rising to take them, go for a wet fly. If the temperature is low and there is minimal activity on the water’s surface, you will need something below the surface. Tie on a nymph and add a split shot.


You should have seen some of the dominant insects around the stream. Try and match your fly pattern to the colour of the insect’s undersides. A common beginner problem is choosing a fly which is darker than it should be because it has been matched to the colour of the insects back, which is usually darker than the belly.

Select a fly around the same size of the insects. If this is not possible, always go smaller rather than larger. If no insect appears to be dominant, choose a fly pattern that fits the general grouping of insects you observed.

If it looked like you needed to tie on a nymph, then get in the water and pull some rocks off the bottom. See if any insects are on the rocks below the surface and match your fly pattern to that.


If you are not getting the results you want with your chosen fly, stop and reassess. It might be that conditions have changed. If they haven’t, try using a different fly of the same type. Use a slightly smaller or larger nymph, or from one wet to another.

If this still doesn’t work, then it is time to change the fly type. For example, if you have tried a couple of different dries, switch to a nymph and try your luck on the bottom. If this still doesn’t work, move to the wet fly.

Don’t just persevere and hope things will pick up. If success isn’t forthcoming, reassess and mix it up to lure them in.


What do you think? How do you choose your fly pattern? Have your say and join the conversation through the comments section below.

Robert M Davies
Robert M Davies

Robert passed the "Obsessed With Fishing Test" with flying colours. Instead of talking, Robert has turned his hand to writing about his experience in fishing all around Australia.