Fly FIshing 101: Research Freshwater Flies

Fly Fishing 101 - Research Freshwater Flies

As I’ve mentioned before, presentation and fishing technique play a significant role in catching fish.  In most instances if you have confidence in your fly, you’ve made a cast in the correct location with a good drift; you’ll be successful.  Regardless if your fly is pink and bedazzled or all natural materials, ANGLER CONFIDENCE plays a huge role!  

As a new fly angler, or even intermediate, one of the most intimidating parts of the sport is choosing the right fly.   I still recommend learning how to read water, set-up your leader and understand how to fish the fly before you focus on the bugs.

The bugs will come.  Listed below are a few suggestions to help you bring the correct bugs to the river with you.  It all starts with doing the work.   Learn the Hatch Charts and look up the local Fishing Reports before you go.

Review Fly Fishing 101: Introduction to Freshwater Flies.

  • Dry Fly = Adult Stage of Bug
  • Emerger = Mature Stage of Adult Insects
  • Wet Fly = Imitates Drowned, Drifting or Hatching Insect
  • Nymph = Immature Stage of Bug
  • Streamer = Mimics Bait Fish and Other Large Aquatic Prey.
Types of Freshwater Flies - Dry, Terrestrials and Emergers1
Types of Freshwater Flies - Wet Fly, Nymph and Streamers

Learn the Hatch Charts

Find out what specific bugs are hatching during the time of year.  There are several websites that have Hatch Charts for rivers and lakes around the world. Do a quick internet search for Hatch Charts in a specific area.  You’ll start to see a theme that many of the bugs hatch during the same time of year in similar regions and climates.  For example a Pale Morning Dun (PMD) mayfly hatches in the summer in the western United States.  I could fish PMDs in Washington, Idaho and Montana in July.  As you start to become familiar with the different hatches, it’ll be less research.

Check out the Fishing Reports

The first plan of action should always be doing research on the river or area you want to fish.  Check out the local fly shops “Fishing Report” or better yet go into the shop and talk to the staff directly and purchase some of the recommended flies.  The relationships you develop with the shop could be priceless.  

Extra points for the fly shops that have women represented on their website!  Kudos Silver Bow Fly Shop!! 

 Fly names are an artistic expression given by the creator.  Most of the time the name has nothing to do with what type of fly it is.

Google the flies you're not familiar with

Research the fly names you’re unfamiliar with. I could probably only tell you the names of about 25% of the flies in my fly box.  Fly names are an artistic expression given by the creator.  Most of the time the name has nothing to do with what type of fly it is.  I’d guess that a Purple Haze is a Jimi Hendrix song or a strong strain of sativa cannabis.  I’d never think that it’s an attractor fly or used as a adult mayfly pattern.

Look at the example below.  The Grizzly Hackle Fishing Report states that the Rogue Stonefly is fishing well.  I’d do a quick internet search for the Rogue Stonefly, look at the flies in my fly box and see if I have anything that is similar?


LIke with anything in life, we must do some work to be better educate ourselves on a certain subject.  Learning hatch charts and researching the local fishing reports are a couple of quick ways to do the work.  Happy Fishing!! 

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