The Pheasant Tail Nymph is another great option for sub surface fly fishing. The pheasant tail nymph can be fished in any season and in both moving water and still water applications. The pheasant tail offers a slightly larger presentation that the previously mentioned Zebra Midge.
The Elk Hair Caddis may be the most popular fly of all time. Tied using hair form elk, which float quite well actually, these flies are the most fun to fish. Because this fly sits atop the surface, it allows the user to visually see the “take” from the fish. This gives instant satisfaction to the angler and keeps us wanting more!
Now that we got that out of the way, lets get into actual types of flies and how they are used. In the sections to follow I will break down the main types of fishing flies, how they should be used, and tips for using them.
What is a Streamer Fly
Streamer fishing flies are bigger than most flies by nature. They are designed to imitate the bigger forms of aquatic life.
Streamer fishing flies may imitate other bait fish such as minnows, crawdads, leaches as well as larger things like hellgrammites.
These fishing flies are fished with constant motion with intentions of getting a reactionary strike. The usual bulky profile presents a larger than normal meals for fish.
Streamers often times require larger fly fishing tackle in order to be productive. Larger fly rods of say 6 weight and up are usually best.
Floating line is acceptable when fly fishing shallow waters with streamers.
However, sinking line or sink tip will be required for getting streamers to deeper depths or when fished in fast currents.
Streamers can be retrieved in a few different ways.
Strip – Strip retrieves or stripping, is the most commonly used retrieve for streamers. Stripping streamers is done by pulling the streamer in with small strips, gradually pulling the streamer back toward you.
Strip and Pause – This method builds off the first method mentioned above. While stripping our fly fishing streamer back toward us, we’re going to pause. This presents as an injured minnow, great for a hungry fish lurking nearby.
Dead Drifting – Dead drifting is a method of allowing the water to move your streamer. After casting your fly, allow the water to move it downstream. When your streamer reaches a 45 degree angle to the fisherman, we begin stripping the fly back to us.
Dry fly fishing is a style of fishing that imitates flying insects rather than sub surface insects.
While streamers are fished below the surface, dry flies are fished on the surface.
Fishing dry flies is the art of lightly landing on the waters surface to imitate insects. Such insects may include mosquitoes, gnats, mayflies, and various other forms of flying insect.
Dry fly fishing is very exciting because the fish must come to the waters surface to strike them. Often times this will result in the fisherman visually seeing the strike and giving instant satisfaction.
Often times dry flies tend to be smaller than most fishing flies. I regularly fish dry flies that are size 20-24 and sometimes even 26.
With these smaller size flies we are able to fish these flies on much smaller gear than the streamers previously mentioned.
Fly rods ranging form 000 wt all the way up to a 4 or 5 wt may be used.
Floating line is ideal for fishing fry flies as well as a smaller leader and tippet. Sinking line or the improperly sized fly fishing leader will not allow the fly to float.
Common Dry Flies Include
Hatch Flies – Flies that match a particular hatch currently happening in your immediate area. You will use these flies when you notice mayflies, blue winged olives, and gnats around the surface.
Terrestrials – These fishing flies will imitate your “bugs” like grasshoppers, crickets, and ants. These flies can be utilized any time you notice them around the waters edge.
Attractors – Attractor flies are not designed to imitate insects at all. In fact, they are not designed to look like anything. These fishing flies are composed of bright colors in order to peak a fishes curiosity.
The goal with these flies is to keep them floating as long as possible. There are powders and gels that help to repel water keeping your fly afloat longer.
Wet flies make up the majority of a fishes diet in an aquatic ecosystem. These flies consist of the insect that live below the surface of the water.
Wet flies are designed to sink below the waters surface and sit just in front of the fish. It’s safe to say that sub surface insects make up abut 80 percent of a fishes diet.
The material used in tying wet flies absorb water allowing them to sink.
Wet flies do not need to be presented as graciously as dry flies do. This makes them an ideal fly for beginner fly fisherman.
Simply put, there is not a lot to it when fishing these flies, at least for beginners. Make your cast to the desired location and simply allow the current to do the rest. For now this will at least give you good casting practice.
You will have to keep a keen eye on your fly line as it will be your visual indicator of a strike.
Wet flies can be utilized with both floating and sinking line. Each of these lines has their purpose, it just depends where you are trying to place the fly.
Common Wet Flies
Pheasant Tail Nymph
Soft Hackle Hairs Ear
Pale Morning Dun
Blue Winged Olive
Knots for Tying Flies
When tying on your fly you must make sure that you use the correct knot. Below is a list of knots that you can use for each fly. Click the links to see an interactive image.