Selecting the Fly

Entomology is the study of insects, in this case aquatic insects. Here is a very simplified example of how to pick the right fly to match the insects the trout are feeding on. While the fly was at first invented to imitate flying insects, it has advanced to match the significant diet of trout and other fish species. Imitation flies can be marine larva and pupae; as well as adults, eggs, worms, freshwater shrimp, grasshoppers, crickets, crawfish, mice, frogs, tadpoles, sculpin, leeches, and many more. Here you will find adult forms of four common types of aquatic insects. Below you will find a sampling of flies that can be used to imitate each of the insects. If you would like to learn more about Entomology view the information about insects.

Types of Aquatic Insects
mayaart May Fly

May fly wings stand upright at rest and there are usually a small set of hind wings. Mayfies can have 2 or 3 tails.

caddisa Caddis Fly

Caddis flies have tent-like wings that are covered with fine hairs. They may also have very long antennae.

chiroa Midge

Midges have no tails. The wings of a midge lie flat on their body like common house flies.

stonea Stone Fly

Stoneflies have wings that lie flat on their body when they are at rest. Stoneflies only have 2 tails which are sometimes very short.

Selecting your flies

When you walk into a fly shop for the first time, you are hit with a startling array of flies. Which ones should you pick? The best thing to do is ask what the fish are hitting on in the local streams. Besides that, you need some staples, flies that work most of the time, anywhere. The selection below is made up of classic patterns, which, when used correctly, will usually catch fish. One of the most important factors is size. Try to match the size of your fly to whatever the fish are feeding on. Most artificial flies range between the sizes #2, which are large, and a size #22, which are very small.

Listed below are samples of the flies that are simple to tie and easy to find at the local fly shops. If you would like to tie your own, find the receipe for the pattern at The Fly Bench brought to you by Andy Cooper.

Dry Flies & Emergers

The Dry Fly and Emergers have many different names and forms. They are: May flies, Olives, PMD/Sulphurs, Gray/Tan/Brown, Green Drakes, Tricos, Spinners, Caddisflies, Prospecting Flies, Midges, Terrestrials, and Stoneflies.

Compara Dun
May Fly
Elk Hair Caddis
Caddis Fly
Griffths Gnat

Wet Fly

A few examples of Wet Flies are Soft Hackles and Classic Wets.

Bead Head Hares Ear
May Fly
Green Rock Worm

Caddis Fly
Thread Midge



Nymphs are perfect for drifting near the bottom of the stream. They come in many forms: Beadheads and Tungheads, Mayflies, Caddis, Stoneflies, Midges, Crustaceans, Eggs & Worms, Damsels, Buzzers, Czechs, Shrimps, Pheasant Tails, Larvae and Pupae.

Hares Ear Nymph

May Fly
Bead Head Pheasant Tail
Pheasant Tail Nymph


Muddlers & Sculpins, Traditional & Bucktails, Zonkers & Matukas, Buggers, Minnows and Leeches are types of Streamers.

Bead Head Wolly Bugger


Wolly Bugger

Mickey Finn