Fishing fly patterns are tied with a vast variety of materials including natural materials such as goose feathers, beaver hair, deer hair, elk hair, chicken feathers, ostrich, and peacock feathers, rabbit fur and fox fur.
Flies are also tied using, a large variety of synthetic yarns, ribbon, fake fur, plastic parts, and foam rubber.
With all of the variety of flies it is sometimes difficult for the beginner to pick the right fly at the right time and actually catch fish.
If we follow the rule of match the hatch, and we look for the right things we can get very good at choosing the right fly, especially on a body of water we spend a lot of time on.
If we look for bugs on the water, we will see that at any given time there will be swarms of bugs on the water; these swarms are called a hatch. The hatch for a given stream or lake is governed by the temperature, the time of day, and the humidity in the air. Some hatches are only there after a rain and some are there only if it doesn’t rain.
The hatches are also affected by latitude some of the bugs you find in the southern states will not be found in Canada. Some folks even are able to choose the correct fly for the area by observing what flowers are blooming in the area.
The bottom line is fish eat bugs and if you pick the fly that matches the hatch you will be more likely to catch fish. Of course there is the little matter of rods, reels, and the art of casting, but that just adds to the fun and excitement of fly fishing.
There is no greater thrill than watching a 20 inch trout rise to a well placed dry fly on a mountain stream or a quiet lake in the evening or early morning.
Flies come in a wide range of sizes, and any size can work at any time. A general rule of thumb however is that the flies you use in the spring will be smaller than the flies you use on the same water in the fall.
There are really only two types of fishing flies, the patterns that float called dry flies and the ones that sink called wet flies. However because of the vast numbers of patterns and for ease of categorizing them all, we have broken the two categories in several sub categories.
Attractor Dry Flies
This section covers the dry flies that are mayfly, caddis fly or stone fly imitations. All of these flies float, and come in a variety of sizes. Some of the patterns in this category are some of the oldest patterns tied and many originate in the UK.
Most of these flies were originally tied to catch trout although they have proven themselves to catch other species as well.
In this category you will also find some of the new exotic dry flies, tied with bits of space age materials. Dry flies represent the phase of the bugs metamorphosis that is above the water.
Mayfly Dry Flies
These are dry flies that resemble the species of mayfly that is found in a given area. The mayfly is the most plentiful of flies and there are so many different varieties of mayfly it is almost impossible to find an area where they are not represented in one form or another.
Caddis Dry Flies
These flies are also very plentiful and usually are found on flat water such as ponds and lakes. They also come in many varieties and are found throughout the world.
Midge Fishing Flies
These are the little guys, they are generally smaller in size than other flies and they imitate smaller bugs such as black flies, no seums and spiders that are found on the trees and bushes on the land along the edges of streams and lakes.
This category represents the bugs that crawl along on the land. They include maggots, beetle, centipedes, inchworms and caterpillars. These bugs are all of the bugs that live in the vegetation along the stream banks and lake shores and either fall into the water or are blown into the water by the wind. On some bodies of water these bugs represent 60% of the fishes diet and on others, only 20% or less.
Mayfly Emerger Flies
These are the bugs that start out living on the bottom and are moving to the surface to hatch. They represent all of the bugs that live under water and have an underwater phase of their life cycle.
Like the general dry fly category this category represents several patterns that have been tied for many years as well a number of new patterns that are tied with space age materials such as tungsten beads, and Mylar string. Wet flies and dry flies also share names but are still different in that a Royal Coachman dry will float and a Royal Coachman wet will sink.
Attractor Nymph Flies
These are wet flies that represent the nymph stage of the flies Life cycle. They are particularly useful in searching for fish in unknown waters and are quite often a bead head pattern.