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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Lateral view of a Psychodidae True Fly Larva from Mystery Creek #308 in Washington
This wild-looking little thing completely puzzled me. At first I was thinking beetle or month larva, until I got a look at the pictures on the computer screen. I made a couple of incorrect guesses before entomologist Greg Courtney pointed me in the right direction with Psychodidae. He suggested a possible genus of Thornburghiella, but could not rule out some other members of the tribe Pericomini.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Adirman's profile picture
Monticello, NY

Posts: 479
Adirman on May 9, 2011May 9th, 2011, 1:24 pm EDT

NHice pic and nice fish!! Is that I presume, an elk hair caddis you're usin'? Also, is it a #10? Looks kinda big but hard to tell cuz half of it is in the brookies mouth!!
mansfield woodhouse uk

Posts: 5
Kauto on Jul 12, 2011July 12th, 2011, 2:11 pm EDT
I know things might be a bit different on your side of the pond but they cant be that different because a brown trout is a brown trout anywhere in the world.
Plan of attack for me when i reach the water is whilst i am setting up i keep one eye on the water if there is no action i will have a look round to see what is on the wing.When i started fly fishing many moons ago i was getting knowere fast so i asked this elderly gent what fly i should use and he gave me the best advice i have ever been given he said "if there is no surface activity go with nymphs the ptn and a grhe from size 12 down to as small as you can tie them,if there are bugs flying about get your fly box and try and match the colour and size of them,keep it simple.Also dont forget your spiders they will usually save you from a blank".Looks like i will tying up a few of those flies Mark,great tying by the way.Iam not the greatest tyer in the world but i tie flies to catch fish thats not to say that i dont appreciate a well tyed fly.
Jesse's profile picture
Posts: 378
Jesse on Jul 12, 2011July 12th, 2011, 10:35 pm EDT
A wulf or caddis or stimulator or adams or humpy or pretty much any nice, thick dry fly will get the job done. These small, agressive, food competitive trout don't really care as long as you don't scare them along the way!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Aug 17, 2011August 17th, 2011, 4:52 am EDT

Staying well above the fish is a big advantage when fishing small streams. I fly angling approach that really lends itself to being well above the fish, and out of their view is to swing a soft hackle down and across. I am a dedicated, soft hackle angler, and being able to fish the fly deploying drag with good results is a negative for deploying dries, or nymphs that need to be dead drifted most of the time. Fish doesn't see your line or leader. A great approach to fishing soft hackles. A pheasant tail soft hackle is one of my favorites, but I fish them big, as in a #8 long shanked hook, and as small as short shanked #18 soft hackles tied on a scud hook.
Corry. PA

Posts: 17
Greglindsey on Feb 16, 2012February 16th, 2012, 1:15 pm EST
Hey guys i'm a begginer at fly fishing you think you could recommend some good trout flies
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Feb 16, 2012February 16th, 2012, 2:46 pm EST
Hello Greg,

You need to tell us a little more information. Are you fishing for trout in lakes or moving water? I guess we will assume that you will be fishing some dries, nymphs, and streamers. There are specific insects, and minnows, that are found in the various lakes, rivers, and streams of North America.

There are a lot of flies that imitate specific insects and minnows. I don't know what the current politically correct term is but I call them hatch, or river, specific. Then there is an entirely different approach where the flies don't necessarily imitate any specific insect, or minnow, but are more generic in nature and one fly pattern might be used to sort of match many different insects and minnows.

Now are you confused yet? Okay, I'm going to give you a bunch of generic dries, nymphs, and streamers that should be able to allow you to catch trout pretty much anywhere in the USA - as long as you have learned to cast with a measure of success, you have learned how to "read" the water, in other words, you know where the trout will be laying in many situations.

Actually now that I'm writing this I think we had a post with this same topic not all that long ago. You should try a Forum search for "some good trout flies" or "beginners selection of flies" etc. I'll do a search and if I find the thread I'll post the link. I did do a Forum search and while I didn't find the one I was thinking about I did find this one;



Adams #12 - #18
Blue Wing Olive #14 - #20
Gray Fox Variant #10 - #14
Dun Variant #10 - #14
Elk Hair Caddis #10 - #18
Black Ant - #14 - #20


Hares Ear #10 - #18
Pheasant Tail #12 - #20
Prince #10 - #16
AP Black #10 - #14
AP Brown #10 - #14


Woolly Bugger, Black #4 - #10
White Marabou #4 - #10
Brown Zonker #4 - #8
Gray over White Clouser Minnow #2 - #6

Are there other flies and other lists? yes, probably if 100 guys post to this there will be many different flies but many of the flies I've mentioned will be on many of the other lists because they have been proven and fished for decades and catch fish over and over.

Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Corry. PA

Posts: 17
Greglindsey on Feb 17, 2012February 17th, 2012, 1:58 pm EST
I'm planning on fishing a slow moving river in PA in early trout season. I'll cheak out that site.Thanks for recommending those flies.
Corry. PA

Posts: 17
Greglindsey on Feb 19, 2012February 19th, 2012, 3:38 am EST
What weight fly rod would you use for steelhead
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Feb 19, 2012February 19th, 2012, 4:48 pm EST
It depends on how big the river is you are fishing, what line weight you like to use, how big are the steelhead? I fish streams that are quite small with fish in the 5# - 9# range and use a 9' #6 and also an 11' #6 switch rod and can control any fish in those waters. On wider, faster, deeper rivers where you might be using a quick sinking line and big spey flies a #7 would be as low as many guys would go and more likely a #8.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Corry. PA

Posts: 17
Greglindsey on Mar 20, 2012March 20th, 2012, 2:55 am EDT
What are some good brown trout flies for a slow moving stream in early spring?
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Mar 20, 2012March 20th, 2012, 7:56 am EDT
What are some good brown trout flies for a slow moving stream in early spring?


Two approaches, that can be combined as you go:

The "soup de jour":
-You can expect midges almost anywhere in the country from winter into summer -esp so on slow water.
-Baetis are often the first mayflies all across the country, followed closely in the East by Hendrickson, and "Blue Quill" (Paraletophlebia).
-"Grannom" caddis come right in there too, East and West.
-Stoneflies are active and begin to emerge too, but are less apt to be found in slow water.

By Water Type:
-Slow water (either stream sections or just discrete areas of a given pool) often requires a stealthier/more patient approach, smaller/more realistic flies and finer rig, while in more turbulent water you can often get closer to the fish, and get away with larger flies and a courser rig.

Factoring in Trout Behavior:
-Productive waters (LOTSA food), esp those heavily fished, tend to make trout harder to dupe. Less productive waters (more meager rations) trout tend to be less choosy and more willing to "sample".

I fished a stream last week (see pic below) in which the browns were midging in that slow pond-like water. Took heroic efforts at stealth and patience, but the trout were not choosy and, despite feeding on the only available food (#26 midges), were happy to take any old #16 dry on 5X. The stream is not terribly productive and the particular stretch is not fished often bc it is such a bear to approach and cast there.

So, what patterns specifically? Decide where your stream fits in the above categories, then go either realistic or generalized ("attractor"/low maintenance). If the former, Google the bugs to get an idea of patterns out there, or others may chime in with their favorites. The reason I didn't just list a bunch of patterns that work for me is bc ... it depends. Realize, trout are not looking for a specific fly pattern, but food. And that comes in context.

Posts: 7
Baetis on May 13, 2012May 13th, 2012, 8:11 pm EDT
Im with Jesse, any "bushy" dry fly (Stimi, Wulff, Caddis) will do the trick during the right time of year. Sometimes I tie a small BHPT to the hook. The presentation is what is key.
Corry. PA

Posts: 17
Greglindsey on Jul 18, 2012July 18th, 2012, 7:15 am EDT
I'm planning on fly fishing for the first time for pike in Canada do I need to use a metal leader or heavy line as a leader?
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jul 21, 2012July 21st, 2012, 8:17 pm EDT
Go to Gander Mountain or Bass Pro or any local tackle shop and you can buy nylon covered braided wire leaders with a barrel swivel on one end and a snap swivel on the other end. They come in various lengths from 6" to about 18" long. I think 6" is okay bc anything longer and it is going to be tough to fly cast with it. Use long and colorful streamers in sizes #1 to #3/0 with a lot of flash and maybe what is called a "Stinger" hook attached to the main hook to get those short strikers.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
WestCO's profile picture
Palisade, CO

Posts: 65
WestCO on Aug 10, 2012August 10th, 2012, 4:57 pm EDT
My go-to on non-picky streams is the Royal Stimulator. It can be a vague representation of large Caddis and Mayflies, a hopper, and as the name says it stimulates. But you can also drop anything behind it. I never use them on heavy traffic streams because they don't specifically represent anything unless you have colorful stones, but still they don't match bodies well. But for small streams that don't get fished, I think it works well.

If that doesn't work I go boring elk haired Caddis or Adult May fly dun. I enjoy this type of fishing because it gives me a break from where I usually fish where the fish are so selective they can pick between 6-7 different may fly patterns, assuming you've picked the right profile and size. At one point you may do well on a parachute, and the next day its only CDC Cripples, or maybe a Sparkle dun cripple but not the CDC. That's awesome, but exhausting. Its fun sometimes just to fling something out there to stupid rising fish.
...but fishermen I have noticed, they don't care if I'm rich or poor, wearing robes or waders, all they care about is the fish, the river, and the game we play. For fishermen, the only virtues are patience, tolerance, and humility. I like this.
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Aug 11, 2012August 11th, 2012, 9:43 am EDT

Here's my approach making life easy for myself when approaching a small stream. I'm Arthritic which furthers my approach. There is no fully bending down, hiding in the weeds. It is start out high upstream to fish, then fish down swinging a soft hackle. Tippet can be a size larger, always fly first, and fish seldom see me approaching as I fish down. Seldom a need for good casting..roll casts often suffice..almost seems like it should be outlawed. :)
statecollege Pa.

Posts: 14
Jaf on Feb 22, 2013February 22nd, 2013, 2:18 pm EST
I tried to find a picture of the Simple Winged but couldn't find one. There is a picture in the book "Fly Patterns of the Umpqua Feather Merchants" on page 103 middle row, on the left. Here are the materials from the book;
Hook: TMC 3769, sizes 12-16 (I like them even smaller though)
Head: Gold Bead
Thread: Brown, 6/0
Abdomen: Pheasant tail fibers
Wing: Pearl or white Antron

A really easy pattern to tie and one of the most effective I have used (in my opinion).

And I definitely agree that Brookies will take most anything, especially the smaller the stream, the less picky they are...

Here you go.
statecollege Pa.

Posts: 14
Jaf on Feb 22, 2013February 22nd, 2013, 3:12 pm EST
Forgot, on top regular and yellow adams, something foam, and a humpy with no tail. Underneath always start with a beadhead mink nymph, ants, weighted and unweighted hares ear.

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