Hey guys, I am pretty new to fly fishing and I was just wondering if you guys could help out and tell me how to go about choosing what pattern of fly to use in different waters and at different times of the year?
where are you located, or where do you fish? That will be helpful.
Choosing the right fly can be tough sometimes. You can flip over some rocks to see what is around, swing a small aquarium type net thru the water and see if there is something to see that way. A hatch chart is a good resource. If there is a local fly shop, they would know whats happening on the local waters too. Keep your eye on the water to see if you can see anything going on, or fish rising. Spend time observing. Keep a journal, with the stream info, air temps, water temps, what flies worked and when ( i should be doing this lol ).
Basic knowledge of entemology as it pertains to fly fishing is a good thing, to understand the life cycles, from nymphal stage on thru, this helps understand pupa, emergers, flies, spinners etc. This is something i have been attempting to learn.
I have always thought choosing the right fly is the most intimidating part of the whole thing. having all the gear, boxes full of flies, and knowing how to cast is the easy part sometimes. But when it all comes together, thats when the fun begins.
I fish in the Northeastern lower peninsula of Michigan. And to me being new it most definitely is the hardest part. I have the casting and everything pretty well figured out now I just need to figure out what fly to use when and where.
Allen, this is such a broad question that could result in volumes of response in order to answer it. I know you posted this in the Coldwater forum, but I'll give my answers in general terms. Trout anglers do often talk about "matching the hatch" & that can apply to other species as well. However, often there may not be a "hatch". So, a bit of knowledge & experience may be required. I try to match the local forage. I don't often worry about exact matches, but do try to start with something of similar size & perhaps color, such as a baitfish, insect or crayfish, that may be found in the area. Being familiar with where you're fishing helps here.
As far as time of year, again some knowledge or past experiences can be valuable. But, if you lack such, then at least have a general idea. Google & other resources such as this site can provide good information provided you spend the time beforehand doing the research. The various hatches that trout anglers rely on can be predictable to some extent. Then, such things as terrestrials can be somewhat predictable. Obviously, you won't likely find grasshoppers in Dec, or even in early April in some areas, while they might be present year round in warmer parts of the country. Nymphs & various baitfishes are usually present year round, but again having a basic idea of what they may be, at least gets you started.
One other thing I do on waters I fish frequently & on new waters is spend some time looking around & paying attention to anything that might indicate where to start. At this time of year on some of the tidal rivers I fish for bass, carp are very active. They'll be moving around quite a bit & they make their presence quite known. I've found that bass will sometimes follow the carp, and take advantage of any meals that might get flushed from hiding by the carps movements. Of course I don't mind catching carp on a fly either, but this time of year they're in "love" & eating is the last thing they're interested in, so I don't waste the effort. In that case I might start with a streamer of a size & basic color that matches what is in those waters.
Picking a fly is usually a gut decision, based on what I've posted. Obviously, if you see insects, and a hatch, and have the appropriate flies, then that's an easy decision to make. If, not then you have to simply make a choice, and decide based on how you wish to fish. For me, I like topwater fishing the most & may start in that manner. Otherwise, I'll start with something else, often based on past experiences & successes.
I know this may not have answered your question, and you will likely get additional replies that give personal preferences for how others choose their flies. As I said when I started, your question is quite broad! I do hope this helped!
Do yourself a favor, google Josh Rickard Rocky Mt fly fisher. Download his ebook on confidence patterns. He fishes Colorado so the flies might not be exactly what you will use but the concept is the same.
Simplify right off the bat.
Fly selection is crazy....
So many local patterns and shops put minor tweaks on old patterns and rename them.
For example when I started I used a flash back pheasant tail and I barely knew what that was called. I read a fly report that said use a quasimodo PT. Well I will be darned if I couldn't find one......guess what a quasimodo PT is ????
It is a flashback pheasant tail tied on a curved hook
Find the basic 3 or 4 patterns for each category your local shop recommends and get them in a 3 size range of patterns like sz 14,16,18 or 16,18,20 depending on what they say. Get some with bead heads and some with out