Flies are tied in the sizes, colors and patterns that best match regional terrestrial and water bugs, baitfish, or other prey appealing to the type of fish you’re trying to capture. Simply puts, you “match the hatch.”
Flies used in fly fishing mimic both the immature and adult stages of pests, in addition to baitfish, leeches and worms. The majority of flies suit these six classifications:
Dry flies and other surface area flies represent adult aquatic insects as they emerge from the water. They also represent other food sources that have actually fallen under the water like insects or mice. Dry flies are good for trout, panfish and bass. And there’s absolutely nothing more exciting than enjoying a fish rise and take your fly on the surface. See chart below for classic dry fly patterns.
Nymphs are replicas of young pests in their larval kind that reside in the water. Fished on or near the bottom of lakes and rivers, nymphs are very reliable for trout, panfish, salmon and steelhead. See chart below for traditional nymph patterns.
Banners mimic baitfish, leeches and crayfish, which are all primary food sources for fish. Streamers are fished throughout the water column in both rivers and lakes. Virtually every types of fish can be caught with a streamer.
Wet flies mimic aquatic pests as they swim to the surface. They are really reliable when used for trout, panfish, bass, salmon and steelhead.
Salmon flies are created for both Pacific and Atlantic salmon along with for steelhead. These flies frequently don’t mimic anything particular in nature but are meant to activate an aggressive response.
Saltwater flies represent the lots of food sources discovered in the ocean. From baitfish to crab and even shrimp, these patterns can catch everything from bonefish to tarpon.
THE BASIC BOX
This chart shows fly patterns that will serve you well for all of your freshwater fishing – from bass to trout and panfish. You might have difficulty “matching the hatch” often because, about 10 percent of the time, freshwater fish concentrate on one abundant water-born bug and become so choosy that they will take just a close replica; however these flies can capture most fish most of the time.