One of the most important aspects of fly fishing is using the right fly. Fish, specifically trout, can be incredibly picky. One of the most important things to consider when matching a fish's food source is the size of your fly. Choosing the right size of fly is everything, especially during a hatch where trout are being selective. If you choose a fly that is too big or small, success will be difficult. Here are a few tips to choose the right size fly in certain situations.
Dry flies are the easiest for matching the size. Try to capture a fly off the water or in the bushes and then compare it to the flies in your box. This is a surefire way to match not just the size of the fly, but also the shape, color and texture of the insect. Chasing bugs around for ten minutes can be well worth the effort. Trial and error is another way to find the right size. When you choose the wrong fly size fish will often look like they are going to bite but instead they just take a peek at the fly and swim back to their holding spot. When this happens, you need to change something about your fly, size is a good place to start. If these methods both fail you, stop casting for a bit and just watch the fish rise and try and see what they are keyed into.
Finding the right size nymph can be really difficult at times. During an active hatch, fishing something similar in size to the hatching dry flies is an effective tactic. Getting your hands dirty and flipping over rocks in the water is another good way to get an idea of what’s in the drift. Both of these options are difficult in the Winter. Sometimes the best option is to stop in at a local fly shop and ask them what nymphs work best. Trial and error is another good tactic. If I get 15 - 20 good nymph drifts and there are no signs of fish I will typically tie on different flies. If you seem to be getting only a few bites here and there, try putting on the same pattern in a smaller size.
Picking the size of a streamer is easier than other flies. Typically, the size of a streamer fly is dependent on the species of fish you are fishing for and their average size. Huge fish eat bigger things than small fish. Pike, bass and very large trout will attack huge flies, while most trout will typically bite smaller streamers. If you’re using really large streamers, you aren’t going to catch many fish, but the fish you do catch will be much larger than average.
If you’re having trouble figuring out the right flies for any of our local fisheries, feel free to stop in the shop or give us a call.