The 5 Trout Flies You Should Carry At All Times

With so many different patterns available today, even different options for the exact same fishing situation, it can be really tough choosing the right fly to pack in your flybox, let alone the one that you should tie on your leader next. Instead of carrying 60,000 flies in a loaded down fly vest, I like to carry one small flybox with only the flies that I know will work. Although to be honest, usually I just bring the latest Postfly trout fly selection. The next time you’re filling up your flybox, make sure you include these always effective fly patterns.

The Woolly Bugger Is One Of The Best Flies Ever
What are you going to tie on when you get to the river this spring? Woolly Bugger.

1) Woolly Bugger

You knew it was coming, I’ve said the woolly bugger is the most effective pattern in history time and time again, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The woolly bugger combines all the right wiggle with all the right pulsating action, all packed into the perfect profile that just drive fish to strike. No matter what species you’re going after, the woolly bugger in various sizes and colors, should always have a home in your flybox.

2) Prince Nymph

I hate nymphs, but there’s always at least a few prince nymphs in my flybox at all times because they catch fish no matter what the conditions are time and time again. The prince nymph is all my brother fished throughout high school and he nearly always out fished me. How he had the patience to literally fish the same fly for four years I’ll never know, but it probably has something to do with the fact that he was just always on fish. Even if you hate nymphing, this is one nymph you can’t deny.

Nymphs Will Always Catch Tons Of Fish
Nymphs always catch fish, but if you only want to carry one, a prince nymph is always a good choice.

3) Stimulator

I always like to keep something big and bushy in my flybox at all times, because you never know when you’re going to get the chance to watch trout slash at the surface for big bugs. For me, the stimulator is always my go-to bushy fly because of its proven effectiveness at catching fish, but also because the little pops of orange in most stimulators is just enough to convince fish to bite when they’re being picky. They always work well as the top fly in a dry/dropper rig, acting as an indicator for you to watch for a trout to grab that prince nymph you just tied on.

4) Adams 

You should always have a few dry flies in your box at all times because it’s probably the most exciting way to fish for trout (except maybe chucking meaty streamers of course), but if I could only carry one dry fly I’d probably carry the Adams. Not only has this fly become a tradition, handed down by generations of fly fishermen since basically the beginning, but it also does a great job at catching tons of fish. The subtle color scheme and perfect shape make this dry perfect for catching fish whenever you decide to tie it on…which should be often.

Learn How To Catch More Fish With The Right Flies
The best fly in your box is the one that you have the most confidence in.

5) Your Favorite Fly

No matter what flies I tell you to carry, the one that is always going to work best is the one you have confidence in. There have been countless times that I’m fishing a fly that I don’t have confidence in, maybe because I never fish with it, and even if it’s the fly everyone else is catching fish on, it just won’t work for me. As soon as I switch to a confidence fly, boom, I’m hooking up.

Confidence contributes to more than you think, and that goes for just about everything in this world, not just fly fishing. So next time you’re not sure what to tie on, switch to your favorite fly, even if your buddies are catching on something you don’t like.

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8 thoughts on “The 5 Trout Flies You Should Carry At All Times

  1. Shann Jones April 18, 2017 / 1:57 pm

    Hmmm, this could have been printed, as is 20-25 years ago. Edit #5 to say “your favorite soft-hackle wet fly”, and #3 to say “Stimulator or Elk Hair Caddis”. That would pretty much get it. Personally, I would go Bead-Head Hare’s Ear instead of a Prince Nymph because they are easier for me to make.

    This list is about a third of the patterns I have taugh in my introductory University of Alaska Fly Fishing classes over the last 16 academic years.

  2. Frank Spradling April 19, 2017 / 11:30 am

    I have these in my box at all times , the hares ear beaded and non beaded , the prince the same

  3. Ronnie Goldfinger June 25, 2018 / 6:42 pm

    Royal Coachman either with Goose Wing or Wolff . Works everywhere every time.

  4. Jeff Thayer June 26, 2018 / 12:51 am

    Yes on wooly bugger. What color is best for you in June July? Cloudy day? Sunny day?

    How do you fish it in a moderately moving river?

    Split shot?

    • Dan Zazworsky June 26, 2018 / 3:00 pm

      Color is more based on what is in your local creeks, bait and forage wise. If there are a lot of sculpins in your waters, I would try to observe them and see what color they usually are, and then match your buggers to their colors. Also if there are leeches in the system, try to match your buggers to them. Other than those details my favorite go-to’s are brown, rust, olive, and black.

    • Dan Zazworsky June 26, 2018 / 3:00 pm

      Color is more based on what is in your local creeks, bait and forage wise. If there are a lot of sculpins in your waters, I would try to observe them and see what color they usually are, and then match your buggers to their colors. Also if there are leeches in the system, try to match your buggers to them. Other than those details my favorite go-to’s are brown, rust, olive, and black.

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