When you start fly fishing for trout there can appear to be a bewildering range of fishing flies to choose from with weird and wonderful names such as bloody butchers, blobs and klinkhammers. In this article I’ll cover some of the basics of trout fishing flies, how to fish them and recommend some flies for a beginner to start out with.
Trout fishing flies can be thought of as two distinctly different types, Imitative Flies and Attractor Flies. Imitative flies are designed to look like a natural element of a trout’s usual diet such as a bloodworm, minnow or daddy longlegs fly. Attractor flies, on the other hand, do not really resemble anything natural, but are designed so that their shape, color or movement makes the trout think they might be worth eating (or even just snap at aggressively).
Imitative flies can be fished floating on top the water, in which case they are called ‘dry’ flies or in the water, when they are called ‘wet’ flies. The larval stage of flies are probably the most common element of a trot’s diet and flies tied to resemblance these are called ‘nymphs’. When fishing imitative flies the angler is trying to imitate their natural movement so they are usually fished very slowly to give them a lifelike appearance.
The most common type of attractor flies are large, bushy flies called Lures and these are often tied in bright colors with sparkly materials. They’re fished with a fast retrieve and often the fly is stimulating an aggressive catch from the trout rather than persuading it that here’s a nice juicy morsel for eating.
For the experienced angler, the challenge of identifying the natural fly life in the water, matching it up with an imitative fly and then persuading a fish to eat it can be very satisfying and the ultimate challenge.
For the beginner, the important thing is to find a way of catching trout without making life too complicated and for this reason I’ll often recommend Lures as a good starting point. A carded selection of Lures will typically have 6-8 proven trout catchers and that’s enough to get you started and provide an enjoyable first days fishing. They also do not have to be cast quite so carefully which is a big advantage while you’re still perfecting that long, elegant cast.
The best way to fish lures is with a sinking fly line. Cast your line out and let it sink. You want the lure to be down at around the same depth as the trout are, so let the line sink for a while before pulling the line back in with a fairly fast retrieve. The actual depth you want will often vary, so count to yourself while the line is sinking. Try different depths and adjust your count as necessary. Once you start getting bites you’ll know you’re at the right depth. If your fly keeps getting stuck on the bottom then you’re letting it sink too far. Try counting to 10 or 20 as a good starting point.
So there we have it. An overview of trout flies with a good starting point for a beginner. For the record, a Bloody Butcher is a small attractor fished as a wet fly. A Blob is a popular sparkly lure and a Klinkhammer is an imitative pattern for emerging nymphs.