Learning How to Choose the Right Fly Fishing Fly

Learning How to Choose the Right Fly Fishing Fly

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You’re blindfolded and flown to a desolate river in Montana and you’re offered 1 million dollars if you catch a fish on your first cast…

What fly do you throw?

Well, if it was me in this scenario, I know what I’d do. First things first, I’d find a nice comfortable rock and take a seat next to the water.

Then here’s what I’d do before even thinking about tying on a fly:


Look at the Water Before You Look at Your Fly Fishing Flies

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It is extremely important to look at what is in the water before fly fishing, as this can give you valuable information about what kind of flies to use. Different types of flies are used to imitate different types of insects that fish like to eat. By taking a moment to observe what insects are present in the water, you can select a fly that is specifically designed to imitate those insects and increase your chances of success.

For example, let's say you're fly fishing in a stream and you see a lot of mayflies flying around. In this case, it would be a good idea to use a mayfly fly, as it is designed to mimic the appearance and movement of a mayfly. On the other hand, if you don't see any insects in the water, it might be a good idea to consult a local fly fishing shop or guide to see what kind of flies are currently working well in the area.

In addition to looking at what insects are present in the water, it's also important to pay attention to the overall conditions of the water. Is it clear or murky? Is it shallow or deep? All of these factors can affect which flies will be most effective. By taking a moment to observe the water and its inhabitants, you can select the perfect fly and increase your chances of a successful outing.

So the next time you go fly fishing, don't forget to take a moment to look at what's in the water before you start casting. It may seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference in your success on the water.

Imitations and Attractors - Which Patterns are Fish Looking For?

There are two main categories of flies that you'll encounter when fly fishing: imitation flies and attractor flies.

Imitation flies are designed to closely mimic the appearance and behavior of specific insects that fish like to eat. These flies are often highly realistic, with attention to detail in terms of size, color, and shape. The goal of an imitation fly is to trick the fish into thinking it is a real insect, making it more likely to bite. Imitation flies are most effective when the fish are feeding on a specific type of insect, and can be a great choice if you've observed a particular insect in the water.

Attractor flies, on the other hand, are not designed to closely mimic any specific insect. Instead, they are meant to attract the attention of the fish through bright colors, flashy materials, and other visual stimuli. Attractor flies are often used when the fish are not actively feeding on any particular type of insect, or when the angler is not sure what insects are present in the water. While attractor flies are not as realistic as imitation flies, they can still be very effective at tempting fish to bite.

So which type of fly should you use? It really depends on the situation. If you've observed a specific type of insect in the water and want to closely imitate it, an imitation fly might be the way to go. On the other hand, if you're not sure what insects are present or the fish are not actively feeding on any particular type, an attractor fly can be a good choice. Ultimately, it's all about finding what works best for you and the fish you're targeting.

What to Look for When Choosing Imitation Fly Fishing Flies

When picking an imitation fly, there are a few key things to pay attention to:

Size: The size of the fly should be as close as possible to the size of the insect you are trying to imitate. If the fly is too small, it might not be visible to the fish. If it is too large, it might not look realistic and could be less appealing to the fish.

Color: The color of the fly should also be as close as possible to the color of the insect you are trying to imitate. This is especially important if the water is clear, as brightly colored flies can be more easily spotted by the fish.

Shape: The shape of the fly should match the shape of the insect you are trying to imitate. This includes the overall body shape, as well as any specific features like wings, legs, or antennae.

Movement: The movement of the fly should also be as realistic as possible, replicating the way the insect moves through the water. This can be achieved through the use of certain materials and tying techniques.

By paying attention to these key details, you can create an imitation fly that is highly realistic and effective at tricking the fish into biting.

What to Look for When Picking an Attractor Fly for the River

Picking the perfect quality attractor fly for fly fishing can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. There are so many different patterns, colors, and sizes to choose from, it's hard to know where to start. But don't worry, with a little bit of knowledge and some guidance, you'll be able to pick the perfect attractor fly in no time. Here are a few things to consider when making your selection:

Water conditions: The type of water you'll be fishing in plays a big role in choosing an attractor fly. If you're fishing in fast-moving water, you'll want a fly that's heavy enough to get down to the fish, but still lightweight enough to move with the current. On the other hand, if you're fishing in slow-moving water, you can use a slightly heavier fly.

Target species: What kind of fish are you targeting? Different species of fish are attracted to different types of flies, so it's important to choose one that's appropriate for the species you're after. For example, if you're fishing for trout, you might want to try a brightly colored fly with a lot of movement, like a royal coachman or a hare's ear nymph. If you're fishing for bass, on the other hand, you might want to try a more subtle fly, like a popper or a streamer.

Time of year: The time of year can also impact your fly selection. Different flies are more effective at different times of the year, due to changes in the insects that the fish are feeding on. For example, during the summer months, you might want to try a dry fly that imitates an adult mayfly or caddis. In the fall, you might want to try a nymph or streamer that imitates a sculpin or minnow.

Size: The size of the fly is also important, as it needs to be small enough to be believable to the fish, but also large enough to be visible to you. A good rule of thumb is to start with a fly that's about the size of the natural insects in the area you're fishing, and adjust up or down based on the fish's preference.

Color: While the color of the fly isn't as important as some of the other factors, it can still be a useful tool for attracting fish. Bright, flashy colors can be effective in low light conditions or dirty water, while more subtle colors are better for clear water or in bright light. Experimenting with different colors can be a fun way to find out what works best in your fishing spot.


So, as you can see, there’s actually a lot that goes into choosing the right fly for the right situation. That’s why we were so particular when choosing the flies we wanted to add to our Guide’s Stash Fly Kit. We wanted it to be the one-stop shop for new (or veteran) fly anglers looking for the right flies to use in the right situation.

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