Every season, we endeavor to bust out of our comfort zone and fish new water every other time we head out to fish. Exploring new water can be one of the most rewarding aspects of fly fishing, not just because you’ll have new honey holes to fish, but it will also teach you new lessons along the way. One challenge you’ll need to overcome is how to figure out what the trout in your new water like to eat. This is where your confidence flies and a few usual-suspect patterns will come in handy. So we decided to share our 5 favorite patterns to try when we first show up to any new water!
Since species of midges are found almost everywhere trout are, a small (#18-#22) black or red zebra midge is a perfect choice as a part of your first speculative casts. We’ve had luck with these flies from coast to coast, having success with both wild and stocked trout. These flies also work well because of their size, starting out with a smaller but believe us these patterns are workhorses.
This fly needs no introduction! The Hare’s Ear just works. It mimics just about every aquatic nymph out there and is always the first choice for us when we’re tying on a new nymph rig. With many variations in style and color to choose from, having a few different versions of this fly in your fly box is always a good choice!
Let’s face it, most trout will eat a wooly bugger, as long as it’s presented correctly. These flies can look like big stoneflies, dragonfly larva, minnows, and leeches, depending on how you fish the fly. Having a few handy in your box will pay off big time when the trout aren’t eating anything else.
The Squirmy Worm
“Go ugly early!” is the name of the game when you tie on one of these flies. Because most fish simply can’t keep their mouths off of worms when they’re available, this fly is a go-to for speculating on new waters. Try a few different colors, but pink is the house favorite around here!
Stimulator Dry Fly
Whether your fishing high mountain streams for natives or larger trout waters, having a few stimulator patterns in your box is a great way to figure out what the trout are keying in on, hatch-wise. Designed to look like any tasty morsel floating on the surface, if there are trout around that are looking to the surface for a snack, you best believe they’ll take a swing at a stimulator!
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!