What is the Best Fly for Fishing in 2024?

Whether you’re a seasoned fly fisherman or just starting out, it doesn’t take long to realize that a vital element to your success is bait. So, what is the best fly for fishing?

The best fly for fishing is realistic, inexpensive, easy to use, and mimics easy prey. One of the best fishing flies is the Adam’s Parachute Dry Fly, which you can order for just $2.49. Other popular flies are the Hare’s Ear, Wooly Bugger, and Cripple.

Keep reading to understand fish eating preferences, the pros and cons of using imitation flies vs real flies, different types of fishing flies, and our top picks.

Contents

Understanding the Fish

To choose the best fly for fishing, first you must understand the fish that you’re trying to catch. What kind of fly do they want to eat?

Any fish can eat a fly, so you wouldn’t be wrong to try your luck with any kind of fly and any kind of fish.

However, the most common fish caught by fly fishing are trout, grayling, and salmon. These fish generally munch on mayflies, stoneflies, and even larger bugs like grasshoppers.

Mayflies serve as a light snack for fish.

For best results, you want to convince the fish that your fly is real and easy prey. That means getting a fly that looks the most like a real fly (or an actual real fly itself), and also learning to mimic the movements of real flies.

Still, if your technique isn’t perfect yet, don’t be discouraged – oftentimes fish get curious enough to munch on something a little odd.

Scroll down to “How to Choose the Best Fly for Fishing” to learn how your fly can look like easy prey.

Real Fly vs Fake Fly

It’s an easy line of thinking to assume that, if you want a fly that looks the most like a fly, you’d use … a fly. But, like most things that sound simple, it’s not actually that simple. There are pros and cons for real flies and fake flies.

Real Flies

When discussing real flies, it’s safe to assume that we’re talking real dead flies (unless you’re expertly graceful with a fishing lure, I guess).

pros:

  • could breed them to create an unending supply
  • easy to come by (just leave a piece of meat outside for a day or so)
  • exactly what the fish are used to eating

cons:

  • using real flies makes it “bait fishing”, which is illegal in some places
  • teeny flies are hard/impossible to tie onto a hook and fishing line

Fake Flies

pros:

  • reusable
  • easy to use
  • inexpensive
  • greater variety

cons:

  • not as realistic

All in all, you can use real flies for fly fishing, but it’s generally not recommended. You’ll have a much easier time using fakes.

How to Choose the Best Fly for Fishing

To choose the best fly for fishing, first you must know the different options:

The two categories of fishing flies are “wet flies”, which sink below water, and “dry flies”, which float above water.

Types of Fishing Flies

Nymphs:

  • mimic a fly’s “nymph phase“, which occurs just after hatch (they look like little larvae/worms)
  • nymphs haven’t grown wings yet, they live under the water, so the fakes are meant to sink into the water too

Emergers:

  • mimic a fly just after nymph phase, where they move closer to the top of the water to prepare for wings
  • fakes sink just below water

Dry Flies:

  • mimic adult form – what you picture when you think “fly”
  • lightweight, float on top of water

Streamers:

  • mimic larger insects, small baitfish, leeches, or worms
  • best option for unknown waters

Tips for a Desirable Fly

Your fly patterns should match the shape, size, colors, and features of the natural flies buzzing around.

Still, no fake fly is going to be an exact replica of the real thing.

In a lake riddled with real flies, why would a fish prey on your fake? One possible explanation is that a fly construct can mimic the behavior of a fly who is stuck and can’t get away as easily. Every predator loves an easy meal, so making your meal look easy is key.

One way to do this is to replicate a fly that is still “stuck in its shuck”, or, still carrying the excess weight of nymphal skin they’re trying to shed. A fly that is “stuck in its shuck” can’t escape as quickly as other flies.

Another way is to replicate a fly that has its wing stuck in the water, who is even less likely to escape.

This blog called “RiverKeeper Flies” has some great photo examples to look at for these two types of flies.

Our Top Picks

Now that you’re ready to buy, the only issue left is choosing between so many options out there. The best fly for fishing is realistic, inexpensive, easy to use, and mimics easy prey.

Many fly fishing flies come in assortment packs, which is good because it allows you to try different types of flies in different waters.

Or, if you just want one, you can place singular purchases on websites like Scheels.com for around $1-$4.

Some, like TheFlyCrate.com, insist that a variety of hare’s ears, pheasant tails, and parachute adams will cover enough insect species to account for 95% of fish. Others have different favorites, like the Wooly Bugger or a Cripple fly. So, we’ve included all of the fan favorite fishing flies (alliteration intended).

Single Flies

Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Fly

Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Fly

Check Price

The Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Fly is cited on Quora as one of the most popular among nymphing fishermen. This particular one is only $2 and comes from a reputable company. What makes it special is the addition of a tungsten bead.


“With the addition of a tungsten bead, this fly is one that you can count on to reach those deep holes, swift riffles, and even work the middle of those ponds packed with brookies.”

Adam’s Parachute Dry Fly

Adam's Parachute Dry Fly

Check Price

Another popular pick is the Adam’s Parachute Dry Fly. The parachute-style design of this fly, as well as the colors, makes it easy for fish to spot.

Beadhead Woolly Bugger

Beadhead Wooly Bugger

Check Price

Another lure highly advocated for on Quora, this fly is also meant to mimic the appearance of the nymph stage.

“The beadhead helps the Wooly Bugger sink quickly and stay in the strike zone for longer.”

Chubby Chernobyl

Chubby Chernobyl

Check Price

This is a great option for those fishing for anglers such as bass, crappie, trout, or walleye. At just $2 a pop, it imitates a wide variety of flies and floats effortlessly on the surface of the water.

Wild Elk Hair Caddis

Wild Elk Hair Caddis

Check Price

This fly is meant to perfectly imitate the caddis fly – a trout and grayling’s favorite snack.

Zebra Midge

Zebra Midge

Check Price

Midges are a generic term to represent pretty much any super teeny fly. This Zebra Midge mimics a midge emerger – or a midge larva preparing to grow wings. This fishing fly is popular because the extra texture on the body – the zebra-ness – “offers great contrast in the water that fish find irresistible”.

Assortment Packs

Cripple Fly 6 Pack

Cripple Fly 6 Pack

Check Price

This fly is meant to mimic the appearance of a fly who has their wing stuck in the water – easy meal! They’re sold in a pack of 6.

Sparkle Brown Dun 3 Pack

Sparkle Brown Dun 3 Pack

Check Price

The sparkle dun fly is also meant to replicate a fly with their wing stuck in the water. It looks almost like a fly working furiously to try to get their wing un-stuck. All in all, this design is sure to improve visibility and get any fish’s attention.

Pheasant Tail Nymph 6 Pack

Pheasant Tail 6 Pack

Check Price

Pheasant tails are popular imitators of mayfly nymphs and are revered as a “consistent trout catching machine!”

RoxStar 24 Pack

RoxStar 24 Pack

Check Price

This is a popular assortment pack on Amazon. As you can see, it has plenty of variety, and is rated a 4.5/5. People love the price, customer service, and catching abilities of this product.

Venutures Fly Co. 200 Pack

Venutures Fly Co. 200 Pack

Check Price

Another popular pick on Amazon, this deluxe box is for fisherman who really want to commit. With 200 pieces, this kit is sure to cover all of your fly fishing needs. Each fly is less than $1 per piece, which is an impressively good deal. Buyers are amazed at the quality of these flies, as well as the variety and price.

Conclusion

To choose the best fly for fishing, the most effective strategy is to learn what works for the majority of people. That’s exactly what we did, and we listed out for you the most popular fishing flies – Hares Ear, Adam’s Parachute, Wooly Bugger, Chubby Chernobyl, Elk Hair Caddis, Cripple, Sparkle Dun, Pheasant Tail, and Zebra Midge.

Since every fishing scenario is different, the best way to ensure consistent catches is to buy an assortment pack or create your own. There are lots of places to buy from, but many are impressed with the quality, customer service, and price when they buy through Amazon.

It is also reasonable to use real flies for fly fishing, if you feel it’s the best option for you.

No matter which buying strategy you use, it’s important for all fly-fishers to understand the different types of fishing flies so that you can use them properly. And pass that knowledge to their kids!

What do you think is the best fly for fishing? Have we missed it? Comment down below!

The Out sider

See Also


Related Reads

Recent Posts