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  1. #1

    Default Identifying flies

    When I go fishing, I'll usually go by a local fly shop and buy a few of whatever they suggest. I also buy flies locally here in Minnesota and occasionally over the internet. Now, memory is not my strong point. So when I look into my fly boxes I don't remember what each fly is. I know that's an Adams parachute and that's a Hairs Ear nymph, but many flies are simply "that yellow mayfly one with white wings." I used to know what a comparadun was, but now I've forgotten.

    This works both ways. When someone tells me sulphurs are beginning to hatch on Lost Fisherman River, I haven't a clue what they're talking about.

    Furthermore, I often don't know stuff about how to fish them. I recently read, "...and of course it works best in slow water." One man's "of course" is another man's tail feathers.

    There must be a book or books that show (in color) most of the trout flies in use and tells a little about them, e.g., "...imitates a stonefly nymph, popular on Montana streams, usually fished in early season, was originally tied by Betsy Ross..."

    Any suggestions on reference books? Thanks in advance.
    We're all in the same boat. We all come 'ere and we don't know why. We all go in our turn and we don't know where. If you are a bit better off, be thankful. And if you don't get into trouble an' make a fool of yourself, well, be thankful for that,'cos you easily might.--J.B.Priestley

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Metuchen, N.J.

    Default Re: Identifying flies

    Try a Orvis catalog.or any other vendor that sells flies. They usually have a page with photos & the fly names under them. You don't really need to know the Latin name of each insect, just the size, color & shape. Mayflies have upright wings & caddis have wings over their back tent style, stoneflies wings lay on their back at rest.
    If you want to further I.D. insects go to
    Aquatic Insects of American Trout Streams It's a great site.....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Identifying flies


    Fishn50 gave you great advice.

    Browse the orvis fly patterns on-line to get a sense of different flies and identify some of the mysteries in your box.

    I'd do a couple of things while you're looking:

    For dry flies

    What's the construction style? (traditional "Catskill style" hackle collar (Adams, Blue Winged Olive, Hendrickson) vs parachute hackle collar (Parachute Adams, Para BWO, Para Hendrickson) vs deer hair "arc" wing (comparadun, X caddis, Sparkle dun), and whether it has upright wings (mayflies) or downwings (stoneflies and caddis).

    Where will it sit on the water?- in the film like parachutes and comparaduns or flies with clipped hackle on the bottom (thorax flies) generally used in slower water for picky fish, or ride high on it's tippy toes like wulffs with a heavy hackle collar that are easy to see, and float like corks in fast water.

    What is the color scheme for different patterns? For instance you'll see that sulphurs are generally yellow with pale gray wings, but you can have Parachute, Thorax, Comparaduns, Sparkle duns (with a "shuck" of antron instead of a tail), or "catskill" style Sulphurs with a hackle collar

    After a quick browse you'll be able to identify different "styles" of flies and have a pretty good sense of color schemes.

    As far as references, anything by Dave Hughes is great.He has a great writing style and explains things very well. Depending on what you'd like to know,

    Essential Trout Flies (An excerpt from his "Trout Flies" book which is also excellent but more expensive, with more info) Essential Trout Flies: Dave Hughes: Books

    Handbook to Hatches Handbook Of Hatches: Introductory Guide to the Foods Trout Eat & the Most Effective Flies to Match Them: Dave Hughes: Books

    And, here's a Hatch Chart for SE MN. It's not the most user friendly, but it will give you an idea of what to look for on the stream, and when hatches of different critters tend to happen during the year, and their typical sizes. ("sedges", "grannoms" and "speckled peter" are all caddis. For caddis you typically don't have to go crazy with exact matches, but having some in dark and light tones in a scattering over the range of sizes can help)
    Hatch Chart pg.1

    The web is also great for info. If you hear about a hatch like sulphurs and want some tips you can do the google thing and type in some like "fishing the sulphur hatch" and get tons of info on patterns, time of day to look for them, and other tips..

    hope this helps a bit, keep asking questions!

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