Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Trout flies are artificial imitations of food trout eat with a fishing hook in them. They are fished using a fly
rod and fly line. The more the trout fly looks and acts like the real food the trout are eating, the more
effective it is in catching them. Trout flies can also be artificial imitations of things trout want to kill or
move out of the way to protect their territory or eggs during the spawn.
Trout flies have been around for many years. Fly fishing is an ancient sport. Records show Romans in
200 AD used flies to catch trout. History also shows trout flies were use in England and Scotland
beginning in the 17th century. Tenkara, a Japanese method of fishing flies can be traced to the 19th
Some trout flies look almost identical to the food item they are intended to imitate and others don't look
much like anything that exist in nature. Most seasoned fly anglers are aware that the effectiveness of a
fly not only depends on its appearance, or how well it matches the real food, but also how well it imitates
the behavior or movement of the real food. In other words, a fly made from solid metal that its a perfect
replications of the natural food usually isn't near as effective as one that imitates the actual movement
or behavior of the real food. To be most effective, trout flies should both match the appearance and the
behavior of the real food.
Notice the word "fly", as in "trout flies", indicates an insect. Most trout flies imitate insects; however, trout
flies can also imitate other types of trout food such as minnows, baitfish, sculpin, worms, crustaceans
and other aquatic types of food. So, trout flies imitate a variety of food trout eat, not just insects.
Trout flies imitate two basic types of insects - aquatic insects and terrestrial insects. So not only do they
imitate things such as mayfly and stonefly nymphs that are born and raised in the water, they imitate
insects such as grass hoppers that only accidentally get into the water.
Trout flies are roughly classified as dry flies, nymphs and streamers, but there are many other types of
trout flies. Some fly shops and fly manufacturers lump trout flies that imitate larvae and pupae under
nymphs, but that is gradually changing and those with a better knowledge of insects are correctly
classifying them as larvae, pupae and adult flies.
Some trout flies are also classified as attractor or searching flies. Those type of flies don't imitate any
specific food, but attempt to imitate a variety of foods that look and behave similarly.
You will see trout fly ads that boast the flies are "hand tied". That is certainly true advertising but I have
yet to see a trout fly tied by a machine. As far as I know all fishing flies are tied by humans. I know for a
fact "Perfect Fly" trout flies are all tied by hand.
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