The proper trout fishing fly, fished in the correct manner, makes all the difference between a successful day at the river and coming home empty-handed. Increasing your knowledge of these celebrated lures and their proper use can only help to bring more enjoyment and more fish your way.
Nothing seems to get a true trout fishing aficionado going like the subject of trout fishing flies. It's a hotly debated topic between fishing "purists" and the casual trout fisherman.
Trout flies are those funny-looking little lures that are made to resemble bugs - to a trout. Trout love to eat bugs, in their adult configuration and also their adolescent stage, which is called larvae. There are many kinds of aquatic insects, and there are literally thousands of trout flies tied to mimic them.
As mentioned, aquatic insects, a favorite trout food, have different stages in their development. Many of them start out life as a larva which lives underwater, attached to a log, rock or some other object in the wild. There is a whole class of flies that is made to resemble these larvae.
Larvae flies are most often wet flies, as they are fished underwater where the larvae spend most of their time. Since a larvae is not very colorful or equipped with wings and other embellishments, the larvae flies are sort of plain as well. You'll see a lot of brownish, caterpillar-looking flies in this category.
Wet flies have more in common with dry flies in that they are much fancier and more closely resemble adult insects. They are meant to be fished underwater, so they will need to be fairly rugged to withstand the pull of current in a stream or river.
Wet flies are fished in such a way that the fly is presented in front of a fish holding in an underwater location. The fisherman casts the fly and manipulates his line to cause the fly to travel through pools and other areas of deeper water in an enticing way to attract a fish to eat it. A fish that cannot be tempted to rise to a surface insect may bite at a fly that is presented right in front of him.
Dry flies are fished along the surface of the water. These flies are often made to resemble the adult version of aquatic insects, with tails, wings and other ornamentation. Dry flies are often floated down a stream with the current and entice a trout to come out of hiding and strike the fly at the surface. This accounts for the exciting and popular "hit" when a trout will leap out of the water to grab what he thinks is an insect.
Dry flies are often made to "match the hatch". This means that the fly tier attempts to tie a fly that mimics the look of the local aquatic insects that are currently hatching into their adult stage and rising to the surface of the water. This is a heavy feeding time for trout, and the fisherman tries to take advantage of this phenomenon by presenting the trout with what it thinks is another local insect.
Of course, all of these techniques and fly types may be combined, depending on local conditions at the water being fished and whatever the fish are biting on at a given time. Trout may switch from one type of prey to another in the course of a day, so the competent fisherman will try different flies until he finds something that works.
Trout fishing flies have also been made to resemble other types of prey. Small bait fish, crayfish, larger insects and even small rodents are all represented as trout flies. Flies are also made that look nothing like any living creature, but are successful at catching fish due to some natural instinct of attraction.
Trout fly tying is an art that has been practice for hundreds of years. There are numerous books on the subject, with some dating back to the 1700's. There are many established patterns of trout fly, and many be purchased at either sporting goods stores or from professional fly tiers.
There are a few basic tools used to tie your own flies. A fly-tying vise which holds the hook, thread-holding bobbins, scissors, pliers, magnifying glass and proper lighting are all fairly essential. Of course, other tools and implements as desired may be employed by the fly tier.
There is a huge array of fly-tying materials that is used. Everything from hair, fur, yarn and feathers to cork, tinsel, plastic and wire are used to tie flies. The fur and feathers from all kinds of animals are used. To weigh down a fly so that it will sink, brass, glass, lead and other types of wire are employed. Many kinds of synthetic materials are used such as kevlar, epoxies and silicones.
To tie a fly, a hook is clamped in the vise by the barbed end. The various materials are tied on to the shaft of the hook below the eyelet. The various feathers, fur and other items are often tied onto the hook with some sort of thread which is wound around the shaft of the hook.
Flies may be tied according to some existing pattern or type or they may be made up by the individual tier. There are known patterns that have worked for years, so many fishermen will either buy or tie these particular flies. Flies may be purchased for under a dollar to several dollars apiece for the more complicated and popular ones.
If you are a fly fisherman, or desire to become one, you may want to try your hand at tying a few trout fishing flies. Imagine the thrill that would come from catching a beautiful trout on a fly that you yourself had tied.