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How to Pick the Right Fly for Trout

“How to Pick the Right Fly for Trout” is an informative video by Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing. In this video, Tom Rosenbauer shares his expertise on selecting the right flies for trout fishing in various bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and streams. With thousands of different fly patterns available, picking the right flies can be overwhelming for anglers. However, Rosenbauer simplifies the process by providing a list of a dozen flies that can be used anywhere in the world. The selection includes nymphs, streamers, and dry flies, each serving different purposes and imitating various aquatic species. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, this video offers valuable insights and recommendations to help you make the right choice when it comes to fly selection.

How to Pick the Right Fly for Trout

How to Pick the Right Fly for Trout


Selecting the right fly for trout fishing can be a daunting task, given the thousands and thousands of different fly patterns available in fly shops. The sheer variety of options can be overwhelming, leaving beginners unsure of where to start. However, there are a few key flies that are versatile and effective in various locations around the world. In this article, we will discuss a dozen flies that are commonly found in fly shops and can be used with success in rivers, lakes, and streams.


When starting your fly selection, it’s important to include a variety of nymphs. Nymphs imitate the underwater stages of insects and are especially effective for trout fishing.

Frenchie Jig Nymph

One of the first nymphs to consider is the Frenchie jig nymph. This fly features a sparkly pheasant tail with a bead head tied on a jig hook. The Frenchie jig nymph is deadly and can imitate various small aquatic insects like mayflies and stoneflies.

Zebra Midge

The zebra midge is an excellent imitation of small mayflies, stoneflies, and midges. It is a great choice when you need a small nymph. The simplistic design of the zebra midge makes it a versatile and effective fly.

Pheasant Tail Nymph

The pheasant tail nymph is another popular and versatile choice. This fly mimics small mayfly nymphs and stonefly nymphs. It is a more subtle option compared to the Frenchie jig nymph and doesn’t have a bead. The pheasant tail nymph is a reliable fly that works well in various fishing conditions.

Prince Nymph

The prince nymph is a peculiar-looking fly that has been proven to work effectively, even though its exact imitation is unknown. It is recommended to have the prince nymph in a bead head version. This strange-looking fly can be successful in enticing trout to bite.

Hare’s Ear Nymph

The hare’s ear nymph, particularly in a bead head version, is a versatile fly that can imitate larger mayflies, stoneflies, and even caddisfly larvae. It is a general nymph pattern that works well in various water conditions.

Rubber Legs Nymph

For fishing deep in the water column and imitating large nymphs, the rubber legs nymph is a popular choice. Its wiggly rubber legs provide movement and attract attention. This fly likely imitates large stoneflies or crayfish, making it an effective option for targeting bigger trout.


While nymphs work well for imitating underwater insects, streamers are a great choice for imitating larger prey, such as baitfish or leeches.

Woolly Bugger

The woolly bugger is one of the most popular streamer patterns worldwide. It can attract various fish species, including trout, bass, and even saltwater fish. The black woolly bugger, particularly in bead or cone head variations, is a versatile fly that works effectively in different fishing conditions.

White Zonker

For a lighter-colored streamer option, the white zonker is a reliable choice. Featuring rabbit fur and a touch of sparkle, this fly can attract trout that may not be enticed by darker streamers. The white zonker is worth trying if a dark-colored fly fails to produce results.

Dry Flies

Dry flies are designed to float on the water’s surface, imitating adult insects. They are particularly effective when trout are feeding near the surface.

Chubby Chernobyl

The Chubby Chernobyl is a favorite large dry fly among many anglers. It has a highly visible wing that stands out on the water, making it easy to see. With its foam body, the Chubby Chernobyl floats excellently. This fly can even hold a nymph below it, making it a great option for dry dropper rigs.

Parachute Adams

For imitating mayfly and caddisfly hatches, the parachute Adams is a reliable and popular choice. It is one of the most widely used dry flies in the world and consistently produces results. The parachute Adams is a versatile pattern that can be successful on most fishing days.

Elk Hair Caddis

To imitate caddisflies, small grasshoppers, or moths, the elk hair caddis is a go-to fly. Its down wing design imitates insects with folded wings along their bodies. The elk hair caddis is an excellent choice when fish aren’t rising or when you’re unsure of what they are feeding on. It can be surprisingly effective in attracting trout.

Olive Mayfly

Lastly, it is essential to have a small olive mayfly pattern in your fly box. If you have space for only one, a Blue Wing Olive in size 18 is recommended. This fly imitates a common and widespread mayfly species. Having an olive mayfly in your selection ensures you are prepared for a variety of fishing conditions.

How to Pick the Right Fly for Trout


While the world of fly patterns may seem overwhelming, starting with a selection of versatile flies can simplify your fly box and increase your chances of success. The dozen flies listed here have proven effective in various locations worldwide, and they can serve as a solid foundation for any trout angler. As you gain experience and explore different fishing spots, you will undoubtedly discover local favorites and branch out to other patterns. However, with these dozen flies, you are on your way to a rewarding trout fishing experience.

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