I actually have already started trying to tie flies. Still trying to get the hang of it but i'm getting there. I am a college student so I took it with my college this year and would tie in the dorms when I was bored. I really enjoy it and hope to get good at it to tie my own flies. For now though i'm just purchasing them.
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Wow.... I definitely need to get working on my fly collection haha. That is very impressive.
Allen, there are literally thousands upon thousands of fly patterns. Every angler has preferences for which ones they like to use. There is no wrong or right to it, and those that get the most use are often the most productive for each angler.
I have a very large collection of flies, and am always adding to it. I like experimenting with different things. I've been fly fishing a long time too & can usually pick a fly that will work for me. When I don't, I try something else.
It's really not difficult to pick a fly to fish with, and as I and others have said it's easier when you have an idea of what to choose. I know that sometimes having a lot of flies to choose from makes it harder particularly for someone who is new to the sport.
The suggestions given here will give you a start with flies to have, but may not provide the answer to which one to choose. Each type of fly requires different tactics, methods & presentations in order for them to perform properly. You haven't said to what extent you've developed your skills, but I suggest you use flies that best fits your skill level, then add as you go. If you like fishing with dry flies & have success doing so, then use them, if you have more success with nymphs, and enjoy fishing this way, then use them. Otherwise it really won't matter much what you choose, you still have to fish them properly to be successful.
The simple answer is to pick a few of each type of fly, a few patterns of each as comeonavs said, and pick a pattern, any pattern & give it a try. You may not catch fish like that, but I've found over the years that I often learned more from those days I had little or no success than from the days I caught plenty of fish.
Success with fly fishing is a culmination of many things & selecting a fly to fish with is only one part of the whole.
Having a basic knowledge of bugs, bug life cycle and reading the water will help you with fly selection. I dont know each bug specifically but do know a midge, caddis and mayfly when I see it. Some places have hatch charts for certain times of year so that can help you to determine which fly. Watching the water will help you determine which stage in a bugs life cycle and the type of fly. Google rise forms and read up. Where I fished the other day, I didnt see too much bug activity but I had read a fishing report. I used midges and a caddis larvae pattern and got fish. Reading the report and not seeing a lot of bugs helped me choose what fly. This might seem overwhelming but youll learn it really isnt. It's the 10 million different flies that makes a person think it is. A few basic pattern will work but some flies are more specific to a certain bug, and they do work better. Once you get a basic understanding things will be easier to figure out.
Location: beside the AuSable River in northern Michigan
Re: How to choose the right fly?
I live in the central section of northern Michigan-- east of Grayling by about 15 miles. If you really want to simplify a starting fly collection, think of dries in dark, mid-tones and light colors-- darks as in Adams of almost any ilk(traditional or parachute) and in sizes 12 through 16, mid-tones such as the Fox patterns or Hare's End parachute in the same size range, and Sulphurs and Light Cahills-- again in the sizes above and tied whichever way strikes your fancy. Collectively, they'll get you through almost any day astream on most of our northern Michigan rivers.
A few elk-hair caddis(light) in various sizes won't hurt as well, along with a nice variety of nymphs in various colors and sizes 12 and 14-- pheasant tails, hare's ear-- gray and black --or Sulphur nymph/emerger patterns.
One of my fishing cronies is akin to a walking encyclopedia of "bug lore," and I swear he spends more time turning over rocks and examining the trees along the river than he actually spends fishing! And, that's OK, as the rest of us commonly pick his brain for his observations. Still, when the "hatch" is up for question, we tend to fish with what works, as one of the pairings into which we commonly break off each takes a different fly and gives it a shot.
Therein lies the beauty of fly fishing... You can dive in as deeply as you'd like to-- amateur entomologist(Steve) to nimrod status (like me) and still enjoy the sport for what it is-- a great way in which to spend a few hours on the water with good friends, and having one heckuva good time!!
I spent the first 35 years I've fished for trout in Michigan trying to figure out what fly to use. About 15 years ago, I finally figured out most of the time, trout aren't all that selective.
They will get selective when there is a blanket hatch going on, so if you see a bunch of the same looking fly on/in the water, tie something on that looks just like what you see. Big time blanket hatches probably account for about 10% of the time (maybe less).
So what do they eat the rest of the time? Whatever that happens along that looks good to eat. That being the case, I like to fish a fly that looks a little bit like alot of things trout like to eat. Something like an elk hair caddis looks a bit like a caddis, a stone fly, a still born mayfly, a grasshopper, a cricket, a moth, a ... You get the idea.
Particularly if you are fishing moving water, trout who spend too much time trying to figure out what they are looking at, soon starve to death. Trout are constantly sampling things, some times it is just a stick. But if it is, they spit it out and look for some thing else to try.
Unless trout are really keyed in on something during a blanket hatch, if you make a good presentation (sometimes that's dead drift, often times it's not), the trout will give your fly a taste.
Rather than you worry about it, let the fish figure out what it thinks it is.
Use google and find a hatch chart for the area
Use google and find a fishing report for the area
Visit a fly shop and spend $5 while asking questions
When you get there turn over a rock or seine the water
If all else fails fish your favorite attractor/searching flies, either on top or sub surface