Hey – Check your fly! (part 2)

Posted on Posted in Mad Skills, Uncategorised

Trout season is upon us, and your choice of fly is crucial to your fly fishing success on the water. To catch trout, you need to think like one. Here are 5 quick tips on selecting the best flies for reeling’em in.

Size matters

Whether you match the hatch or go big will depend on the season and water conditions. In general, matching your fly size with the current prey (along with placement in the water column and all other factors) is a good bet, except when conditions are turbid. In late spring we’re still looking at high, busy water so being a bit big can help your fly show up when there’s poor visibility.


Flies can be exact replicas if conditions warrant; great visibility, a plentiful food supply, and low fishing pressure mean fish can be fussy about their interests. At other times, flattery will get you everywhere and close enough will do.


Colours vary with the seasons, so go with what makes sense for the time of year. In the shoulder seasons of early spring and late fall, plus in the darker days of winter, naturals tend to be darker which helps them blend into a darker landscape. Lighter flies are typical for warmer weather and brighter skies. There are some great videos online for fly tying if you want to get into it.


Do some research on what the fish you’re after are looking for. Fly construction will determine if they’ll float on the surface (dry flies), sink (nymphs and streamers) or ride partially or totally submerged (emergers). Your fish are looking for food in a particular level of the water column, and with patterns of behaviour they recognize, so getting your fly in the right spot is crucial.

This is where a good guide can give you the tips and local knowledge you need to make effective presentations.

Set up

The fly action you get is completely dependent on your set up; again, this is where a guide can make all the difference by sharing the lore and getting you good to go in no time.

If you’re after trout, remember they take at least two thirds of their prey from within the water column rather than at the surface.  You might prefer dry fly fishing, so knowing who inhabits the subsurface zone will help you choose appropriate flies. If you notice them taking flies just beneath or in the surface film, grab an emerger pattern.

For nymphing, make sure your fly is getting down to the fish – you might need one or two split shot to give it some weight. Keep your nymph drifting downstream of  your leader and fly line; you need to avoid drag and stay in touch with your fly, so one technique is to keep as much line as possible out of the the current by extending your rod.

You can set up a dropper rig by tying a small nymph to 14-18” of tippet material, then tying this to the bend of a dry fly. The dry fly at the surface is your indicator if the trout takes the nymph. Or, you can set up a tandem rig with a set of nymphs to see which one is sexiest to the fish.

In any case, booking a guide will make the learning curve that much faster, and get you catching instead of fussing and messing around with variations.