Types of Fly-Fishing Flies (Beginners Guide)

Bait is the most important part of your fishing gear. Unlike traditional fishing with real flies, fly fishing employs handmade insect imitations that are fitted on the fishing hooks. Most fly fishers are now using these synthetic fish flies for their big catch.

When it comes to purchasing fish flies for your fishing expedition, you ought to understand the kind of fish you want to lure to take the bait. For instance, if you want to catch a steelhead, there are specific fly-fishing fly decoys that will attract the steelhead.

Even long before you plan to go on that fishing spree, you must know that fishing flies are so many to be counted. They are as many as the constellation of stars in the sky. In this article, we have thoroughly explored the most popular fly fishing flies.

What Are the Different Types of Fly Fishing Flies?

As we mentioned above, the type of fly fishing flies you have will determine the type of fish you will catch. But even with that, we will explore the basic and the most popular types of fishing flies available.

But, before we delve into that, it is very important to understand that every fish fly has its advantages and disadvantages and we hope that this post will help you answer this and other critical questions you might have.

1. The Dry Fly Fishing Flies

These are the most popular fish flies for both beginners and seasoned fishermen. The design of these flies emulates an insect in its nymphal stage. They work by landing and floating on the water with an impression of an aquatic fly to lure a fish, most likely a trout, into biting the bait.

If the fish finds the swimming insect appealing enough for its taste buds, it will rise to the surface of the water and grab the bait. Instead of sipping back into the water with its prey, the fish will instead launch into the air and voila, you have your catch of the day!

To make the most out of your dry flies, the imitation has to be right and impressive. You must match the hatch to have the catch. Here, the fishing location will play a key role in the type of dry fly fish to use.

Use an imitation of the typical species that would ideally hatch from that water body. Some of the mimics you can use are stoneflies, caddis, and mayflies. You could also use terrestrial decoys of a grasshopper and other flies from this family.

2. The Wet Fly Fishing Flies

These decoys are designed as aquatic insects in their pupal and nymphal stages. This method is most ideal for trout fishing where the bait is submerged under a body of moving water. For this to happen, you will need to sink the rig. This trick can easily be pulled by adding weight to push the hook down to the fish-feeding depths.

The rods used with the wet fly fishing flies are mostly two-handed because sometimes it becomes hard to anticipate when the fish will bite the bait. However, some rigs are fitted with strike indicators to improve visibility.

This method is not altogether graceful especially if you can easily be distracted. First, the strike happens below the water and you have to stay vigilant. Second, casting the rig to the fish feeding depth requires some force and if you are a lazy fisher, you might find this idea a bit demanding.

3. The Streamers

Streamers work a bit differently unlike the other fly fishing fly’s method. The fishing decoys are designed to imitate large water animals. They mostly mimic the shapes and forms of leeches, minnows, and crayfish among others.

This fly fishing method will neither require you to float nor sink your bait. It works differently. Once the hook is cast into the water, the fly is moved in both long and short bursts. This consistent burst of movements will project an impression of live prey to lure the fish.

Even though it sounds fun and engaging, this method can be quite aggressive and fast. This is because these kinds of fish are mostly territorial, predatory, and extremely violent. But that aside, you can either use a one or two-handed rod with this versatile fly fishing fly.

How do You Identify Fly Fishing Flies?

How do You Identify Fly Fishing Flies

To have fulfilling fun, you must understand the kind of flies to use in your fly fishing expedition. Let’s just say that the kind of fish you want to bite your bait is the major determinant here. Once that is decided and done, you have to be able to identify different species of flies and their lifecycle stages.

Fly fishing flies are designed in a variety of sizes and colors. You should, therefore, be able to know the stage of an insect and the fly fishing method that works best with that particular stage. There are three stages in an insect’s life cycle namely; nymph, emerger, and adult.

Once that is done, identify the best size and the most attractive color that is likely to entice the type of fish you want to catch. You don’t have to cram all the Greek-like names. All you need is to be able to identify the fly.

Even with all that, you will still need to consider the location of the water body you are going to do your fly fishing in. The location and the flow of the water will largely determine the kind of fly to use. You will also need to know the depths of the water you are going to fish in and how deep you will cast your weighted rig.

What Is the Best Fly for Fly Fishing?

There are thousands and thousands of flies you can use for your fly fishing spree. However, different flies lure different fish. You should, therefore, know the kind of fish you want to catch and their favorite meal flies.

Here we have listed the most popular categories that will start you off in your fishing venture.

Flashback Pheasant Tail

This imitation of the fly in its nymphal stage has a range of colors to select from. The most preferred colors are gold and green because it gives them a close imitation of the actual fly. Its perfect imitation of the fly’s natural development process makes it a favorite pick. It is however advisable to pick the colors according to the season.

Zebra Midge

This versatile fly fish fly is yet another popular decoy among fly fishers. It can mimic either the larvae or the pupa of a midge. Besides that, this midge is very useful all through the seasons, unlike other fish flies. They come in a variety of visible shades, red and black being the most popular.

Hare’s Ear

Though too small and almost invisible to the naked eye, this always makes a trout’s sumptuous meal. Their design imitates an underdeveloped insect and it has been established to be one of the trout’s top lures. They imitate the mayfly throughout their entire life cycle. Just like the rest of fly fish flies, they come in a variety of attractive colors to choose from.


The nymph of a caddis impersonates a caterpillar and floats on the surface of a water body once they reach its mature stage. It can be a bit tricky identifying these fish flies especially when you are a fishing newbie. However, it is worth noting that they have distinct features like that of a moth at their adult stage.


These fishflies are mostly known to creep out of the river in their due seasons. It is also a common sight to find them hatching by the riverbanks.

Their larvae are aquatic and their emergers mostly venture to the riverbank from time to time. Their adults can be identified by their transparent wings. Just like all the others, their colors are attractive and easy to lure a fish.

How Much Do Fly Fishing Flies Cost?

Just like everything else in the market, the cost of fly fishing flies can dramatically shift shapes. This largely depends on the place of manufacture and distribution. For example, if you want a cheaper option, China-made flies would probably be the best option for you.

However, cheap can be expensive just as they say. You might end up going on an expensive fishing expedition and coming back with no fish just because your fly baits couldn’t impress even a fish.

Ideally, functional but affordable fly fishing flies can cost you between 2$-5$. But, if you are a consistent fly fisher and purchasing fish flies every other week is denting your accounts, perhaps you should consider making them yourself. This could be both fun and cost-effective.


Fly fishing is obviously a very exciting and fulfilling fun activity. To make it even more worthwhile and rewarding, perhaps you should consider familiarizing yourself with different kinds of flyfish flies against the kind of fish you love catching.

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