Walking into a fly shop can often be overwhelming at times. There are so many flies, variations, and sizes. The first thought that can come to your mind is how am I supposed to know which fly to choose? When selecting a fly, many factors can play a part. Trout are weary and sometimes they just simply won’t eat. Depending on who you ask, different people will tell you it’s because it’s simply because of temperature, weather, flows or even because they only eat dropper hopper dropper rigs. Let’s throw all that out the window and stick to very simple and effective patterns that produce fish. After all, you have a chance to catch a fish on the wrong poorly tied fly with the right depth and a good drift.
The best advice I have ever received throughout my angling career is that it’s not always a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN.
Fish are opportunistic and it’s what you do with that opportunity that sets you apart from other fishermen.
When looking at flies I truly believe that color does have something to do with it and tend to stay with my natural colors but I wouldn’t go as far as saying the color matters as much as a good presentation and the silhouette that the fly creates. Truthfully, I have watched a fellow angler catch a trout on a piece of baby yarn tied to a hook but that is beside the point. So before you pull your hair out from fly selections let’s break down my top 6 fly picks very simply.
1. The RS-2 by Rim Chung
The RS-2 is one that I heard of when I was fishing Deckers Colorado from two old-timers who also gave me hot chocolate after I fell in the river mid-winter but, that’s a story for another time. The RS2 imitates an emerging midge or mayfly. This fly has not only landed me some of my biggest fish to this date but increased my time spent fishing to time spent catching ratio!
2. The Thin Mint
My next fly would be the Thin mint. Fish eat it as fast as we eat the cookie after we buy them. Not only is it a heavy fly that gets down, but it mimics a variety of bait fish and leeches. It can be fished by dead drift or stripping it in. I have often found that striping it to the same beat as Staying Alive by the Beegee’s is very effective. 😝
3. Craven’s Two Bit Hooker
Next, we have Craven’s Two Bit Hooker that goes to the plate swinging like Barry Bonds. Tied with two tungsten beads it goes where no other fly will. It is never the wrong fly to put on your rig and covers a wide variety of nymphs. Click the image above to see it tied in our fly tying tutorial!
4. San Juan Worm
More often than not you should have a San Juan Worm, or some type of variation of it. It mimics an aquatic earth worm. It is not only one of the easiest flies to tie but it is very effective. With this fly, it is about getting it down to the bottom as that is where these worms are at and we are mimicking natural food sources for these trout. During high flows or fast water this fly can be a very productive fly.
5. Juju Beatis
The next fly is the Juju Beatis it mimics an emerging bug much like the RS-2 and much like the sparkle wing RS-2 the clear UV coat on the back imitates an air bubble just like an emerging bug would. If I am having difficulty catch fish sometimes I will even just pull off the tail of my fly and turn it to a Juju Bee. I like to fish these as my trail fly.
6. Zebra Midge
Last but not least we have the Zebra Midge. Not only is it a great fly to start out tying but it is in every single water source. Even lakes have larger midges know as a chironomid. The midge makes up for a large portion of a trout’s diet.
What size do you use?
So what size do you use or pick when selecting a fly? A simple, rule of thumb is that colder water usually means smaller bugs and warmer water usually means bigger bugs. In the winter the bugs will tend to be smaller while in the summer they tend to be a little bit bigger.
To tie this back to the Zebra midge, I typically fish the smaller sizes in rivers which are moving water and the larger flies in temperatures to where lakes are still and tend to be warmer. While this may not always be the case it is generally a good rule of thumb. The bug size can also be impacted by how large the body of water is so that is one other aspect to consider.
Written by Bradey Hall
Bradey is the newest member of AvidMax and he brings a handful of knowledge and passion to our team. He enjoys long walks along the river banks and throwing fake bugs at fish with a stick is his idea of time well spent. It is said that he once fished a puddle after a rainstorm and caught a fish. In the meanwhile, we are still trying to figure out if this is true or not we wouldn’t doubt it because he is a fishy guy. There is nothing he won’t fish.
He is a steward in the fishing community always helping with trash clean ups and working side by side with The Mayfly Project to help protect our waters for future generations. Bradey is constantly outside fishing, snowboarding, backpacking, hunting, hiking, camping and spending time with his dog Athena.
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What did you think of Bradey’s story? What are your go-to trout flies? Share your thoughts in the comments!