Different Types of Flies for Fishing Explained

Different Types of Flies for Fishing

The different types of flies for fishing include dry flies, which imitate insects floating on the water’s surface. Nymphs, which imitate insects living beneath the water’s surface, and streamers, which frequently imitate small baitfish or other organisms. However, there are other sub-types of different types of flies for fishing.

Fly fishing is a subgenre of angling in which a natural or artificial fly is used as a lure to catch fish instead of a conventional bait. The artificial bait looks like a fly, so the fishing technique is known as fly fishing (fly).

Trout and other fish will consume the fly if presented in such a way that makes them believe it is a real insect.

When compared to a standard fishing setup, the most notable difference in this one is the fishing line. In fly fishing, the line itself is weighted, which acts as the weight that casts the bait. This calls for casting techniques that are very different from those typically employed in fishing.

Fly fishing is something that one can do in both freshwater and saltwater environments. It is possible to do so in freshwater habitats such as creeks, rivers, streams, and Stillwater environments like lakes and ponds.

Flats are where the majority of fishing takes place in saltwater environments. These ocean areas are relatively shallow and can be found in places like the Caribbean.

Due to the graceful motion of fly casting, fly fishing is the most aesthetically pleasing style of angling. Many people who enjoy fly fishing also practice meditation as a hobby.

Fly fishing, also known as “catch and release,” is prevalent in many parts of the world. People return the fish to the water after being reeled in. This ensures that future generations will have a healthy and happy population.

Stages of Different Types of Flies for Fishing

Let’s go over the stages of different types of flies for fishing so you have a solid understanding of how the stages represent the various categories and the depths these flies are at before we get into the main types of flies.

Even for the most dedicated anglers among us, further dissecting this topic into the life cycle of each insect is likely to be an exercise in futility due to the difficulty and amount of time it will require.

A more effective strategy for determining what’s going on on the river is to have a general comprehension of the stages that a fly goes through.

After that, it won’t matter as much what kind it is, and you’ll be able to understand where it is in its cycle, allowing you to fish more effectively by being familiar with the water column. So, let’s quickly dive into a bug’s life cycle.

The majority of the different types of flies for fishing that you can find in a river are in four distinct stages:

1. Nymphs

The nymph stage is the first stage that most aquatic insects go through after hatching from their eggs. The nymph will typically remain stationary on the riverbed, holding on to one of the rocks while doing its best to avoid the fast current.

Naturally, some of them get carried away by the current and end up in other pools further downstream, where they continue developing into the next stage, provided they survive to reach that point.

2. Emerger

During the emerger stage, the nymph has grown to the point where it can transform into the adult form it will take when it leaves the river.

The emerger is getting ready to take flight at any moment now. Catching a salmon fly emergence at just the right time is one of the most enjoyable events in the world of fishing.

Trout are particularly fond of these items, and when they begin breaking the surface of the water in search of them, a dry fly will cause the surface to explode with the intensity of the bites. It’s a work of art in every sense of the word.

3. Adult

The adult stage is a lot of fun for the remainder of the season. It’s possible to have a lot of success fishing with dry flies while the adults fly around the water close to where they grew up.

You will immediately see the adults looking for a suitable partner to join their group. When that takes place, the conclusion is drawing near.

4. Spinner

The spinners are the insects that have just finished mating or the dead insects floating around on the surface.

There are also those unfortunate individuals who could not successfully molt from the nymph stage because they became entangled in their shells. During this time, fish gobble them up with a voracious appetite.

This process’s total duration can range from three weeks to three minutes, depending on the type of insect. It could take place at six in the morning or twelve in the middle of the night, and you’ll need a lot of good luck to notice it when it does.

You’ll pick up on the patterns in the rivers that are close to you. The next step is to acquire a fundamental understanding of different types of flies for fishing.

Many different types of flies for fishing are available on the market today. These flies attributes can range from natural materials like feathers, animal fur, hair, and thread to those made entirely of synthetic materials.

Major Categories of Flies

When considering the different types of flies for fishing, it is helpful to keep certain categories in mind. By doing so, you will have a better understanding of the connections between the various kinds of flies and the distinctions between them.

The first significant contrast is between wet flies and dry flies. Although it is possible to use flies belonging to different entomological categories (also known as insect categories) in comparable circumstances, wet flies and dry flies cannot be interchangeable on any occasion.

When faced with a circumstance that requires a wet fly, it is implausible that a dry fly can meet the challenge successfully.

1. Wet Flies

Wet flies are lures for fish at depths below the water’s surface. These flies typically have a weighted component known as the bead head that enables the fly to sink more quickly.

However, when fishing in shallow and slow waters, you may want to use lighter wet flies that do not have beads so that you do not spook the fish or drag the bottom.

When viewed through the eyes of a hungry fish, wet flies frequently resemble larval insects, fish eggs, crawfish, leeches, worms, small fish, and a variety of other small creatures that might serve as a meal.

Some wet flies can skim the water as close to the bottom as they can, while others float just a few centimeters below the surface of the water.

Streamers are a type of wet fly that can imitate baitfish, leeches, and other types of aquatic organisms capable of swimming.

Streamers can be fished like nymphs or with movement, depending on the situation. Below, we provide a more in-depth explanation of each of the various categories of wet flies.

2. Dry Flies

Dry flies resemble flying insects or insects that have just landed on the water’s surface and can imitate either of these scenarios.

These flies are intended to sit on top of the water’s surface. Other dry flies look like injured or trapped terrestrial insects, while some look like the adult version of wet flies, which may be in the larval or nymph stage of semi-aquatic insects.

In many cases, dry flies resemble the adult version of wet flies (grasshoppers, beetles, etc.). Dry flies are typically less disruptive to the water than wet flies because they are less dense and therefore do not break the surface tension. However, dry flies may cause small ripples in the water to attract fish.


Even though the majority of flies can be classified as either “wet flies” or “dry flies,” you might also come across other kinds of different types of flies for fishing.

There are times when nothing else will work, and you’ll need these flies then. Although they aren’t ideal for all kinds of water, they come in handy when nothing else will.

1. Poppers

Wet flies are used to present poppers, which are at the surface of the water. These flies are comparable to streamers in that they sometimes imitate baitfish, but more specifically, they imitate injured baitfish.

Some poppers can also look like other animals, such as frogs, mice, and other small vertebrates. Even though these are wet flies, they are fished at the top of the water and “popped” by the angler to imitate the movements of a swimming or injured animal.

This is to attract the fish. These are often difficult for predatory fish to pass up, which is why they are so popular among people who fish for bass.

2. Saltwater Flies

Streamer and popper fly patterns are typical examples of saltwater flies, which are typically large flies. Because there are fewer insects further from the shore, saltwater flies frequently take the form of crabs and other small crustaceans, shrimp, and baitfish.

This allows them to avoid being eaten by larger predators. Because saltwater gamefish are quite large (compared to freshwater flies), the flies used to catch them tend to be on the larger end of the spectrum of fly sizes.

List of Different Types of Flies for Fishing

1. Midges

Midges are small insects that look like and swarm like mosquitoes. Because midges are so exceptionally small, flies tied in a midge pattern are always on very fine hooks.

Fish have a reliable food source in the form of midges because they are present in the water throughout the year.

There are two types of flies classified as midges: dry flies and wet flies. Dry flies are flies that look like adult midges, and wet flies are flies that look like midge larvae or emergers.

2. Mayflies

Mayflies are insects with wings held in an upright, triangular position. Although May is the month in which they first appear in many locations, you can also find them at other times of the year.

Two types of flies can look very similar to mayflies: wet flies and dry flies. Flies that resemble larvae and emergers are referred to as wet flies, whereas flies that resemble adults or “spinners” are referred to as dry flies.

Spinner mayflies are adults at the end of their life cycle. They have transparent wings and are very active, and their high activity level can be appealing to fish.

3. Caddis

The caddis fly provides trout and other fish with yet another abundant food source. At every stage of their development, humans consume them.

Wet flies are the type of fly that imitates caddis nymphs and emergers because caddis nymphs and emergers live underwater.

Caddisfly larvae can be either cased or uncased, depending on their development. Cased larvae produce a hard, durable shell by combining the silk they produce with bits of debris such as gravel, sand, twigs, and pieces of plants.

Uncased larvae appear to be the same as other types of grubs. Because these cases cannot shield them from the predatory trout, you will come across fly patterns based on both types of caddis nymphs.

The adult stages of these different types of flies for fishing are dry flies. The adult wet flies emerge from the larvae.

4. Stonefly

Stonefly patterns are versatile enough to be used throughout the year due to their unusual emergence period.

Unlike the majority of other different types of flies for fishing, which become adults in the late spring and early summer, stoneflies become adults in the winter and early spring.

Stoneflies are more significant than other insects that fish prey on and tend to thrive in water that is swift and has rocky bottoms.

Stoneflies can thrive in a wide variety of habitats. There are only two stages in a stonefly’s life: the egg and the nymph.

Since the nymph does not use gas propulsion to rise to the surface as it matures, no emerger fly patterns are available for this species. Wet flies develop from stonefly larvae, while dry flies mature into adults.

5. Terrestrials

Fly fishermen don’t need to be concerned about knowing the emergence patterns of terrestrial insects or the locations where they hatch because this category of insects is the broadest and least specific one.

This is because all terrestrials have an accidental presence in the water; they do not make their homes in the water; instead, they find themselves in the water due to being blown into it or some other unforeseen event.

Most of the time, these different types of flies for fishing will imitate grasshoppers, beetles, ants, spiders, moths, and other arthropods that might accidentally end up in the water.

These come in various designs and are especially useful on days with a strong wind or along steep embankments, both of which present opportunities for a bug to get into the water. The majority of the time, terrestrials are known as dry flies.

Examples Of Terrestrial Fly Fishing Flies: are beetles, cicadas, grasshoppers, salmon fly, ants, deerflies, moths, dragonflies

6. Scuds and Sowbugs

Both scuds and sowbugs are examples of small crustaceans that live in water. Scuds are similar in appearance to shrimp, and sowbugs have a lot in common with the appearance of other isopods (like pill bugs).

All flies that imitate them do so in their adult stages, as the larvae appear to be miniature versions of the adults.

Since scud and sowbug flies spend their entire life cycle in the water, the term “wet fly” is always appropriate to refer to these different types of flies for fishing.

7. Annelids

Another type of invertebrate that fish consume is annelids, also known as a worm. When it rains, earthworms and other types of annelids go into the waterways, where trout and other types of fish that are hungry eat them.

Because annelids like leeches are always present in many waterways, this fly pattern can be used successfully throughout the year regardless of the weather.

Even though you can fish annelid fly patterns at any time of the year, their effectiveness is at its peak in the spring and after rain.

They are also very useful in cold waters and during the fishing season when it is cold outside.

In general, annelids only have a single distinct life stage; similar to scuds and sowbugs, the juveniles look exactly the same as smaller versions of the adults. There is no dry fly pattern in the annelid family.

8. Damselflies, Dragonflies, and Water Boatmen

The damselflies, dragonflies, and water boatmen make up the final collection of fly patterns based on insects.

These insects are under the same category even though they are not closely related to one another. This is because, unlike the various species of different types of flies for fishing that we discussed, they do not go through cycles of mass hatching and dying.

All of these insects develop into wet flies during their larval stages. Adult damselflies and dragonflies are also dry flies; however, fly patterns based on water boatmen can be either dry or wet flies.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like