Fly Fishing Flies Identification | Honest Fishers

I’m Shirley Carrillo, and today I’m going to talk about fly fishing flies identification. I’m going to present this article for those who are enthusiasts of fly fishing.

This article will also provide you with the necessary information and help you identify what flies to use. In every stream, you can increase catching fish possibilities to a great extent.

Every angler always wants to catch plenty of fish. But, every time they don’t succeed. Perhaps, it occurs because of choosing the wrong flies.

If you are one of them and want to improve your fly fishing experience, you must have to understand what the fly fishing flies identification is.

In this case, you won’t need to get overwhelmed to learn all fly fishing flies names, including Latin name, species, and genus.

The real key is that you only need to know how to identify the different flies from the fly family and their stages.

Before getting started, let me explain to you Fly Fishing and Fly Fishing Flies.

Fly Fishing

So, what does Fly Fishing refer to?

Fly fishing is an ideal way of catching fish from lakes and rivers, which is different from traditional fishing.

In fly fishing, the fly is very lightweight. It is operated in both moving and still water, which also has enough strength to hold the cast against the big tides.

Earlier, people used to prepare their flies by themselves, but now you don’t need to make your flies. You will have these fishing items available in the market.

Fly Fishing Flies

Fly Fishing Flies

Fly fishing flies are such essential items which are made of different insects, small animals, baitfish, invertebrates, and other fish fodder.

Usually, flies used to be tied with natural materials, such as feathers, thread, and animal hair.

At present, synthetic and natural materials are used to make flies, sometimes both are used on the same fly.

Identifying Fly Fishing Flies

When you are trying to identify different types of fly fishing flies, you will see the variety in their sizes and colors so that you can easily differentiate between them.

It’s all about the process of following these steps.

Identify the Stage of the Insect: They usually come in three different stages, such as nymph, emerger, and adult. You may drill them down to get more accuracy.

Identify the Color and Size of the Insect: Although you don’t know the name, you will be able to identify them to see their colors and sizes. To fish on the waters, it will probably get your job done. 

Choose the Fly for the Best Setting: Before using a fly, you should look at the flow of the water. Then check out the depth of the waters, and ask yourself whether the fly is going to work or not. 

Let it Catch the Fish: Once you’ve chosen the fly with the above three steps, let the fly catch the fish. Change depths and weight a few times, and then if the fish don’t eat, it’s time to choose a different fly from your narrowed selection.

Fly Fishing Flies Categories

Here are eight simple categories you can remember that will help you fish on the river:

  1. Midge
  2. Mayfly
  3. Caddis
  4. Stonefly
  5. Damselflies and Dragonflies
  6. Scuds & Sowbugs
  7. Annelids
  8. Terrestrial

01. Midge

These are close relatives to mosquitoes and often mistaken for them. They are always available in a river and are found on the menu for trout. They also look for bigger meals which are more common for them.

How to Identify a Midge: Midges look like a mosquito, but they aren’t biting you. They have two long and two narrow wings in their bodies.

They usually go through 4 stages, but anglers only need 3 of them to make fishing flies. These include nymph, emerger, and adult. 

So, let’s get into the characteristics of these stages to identify a midge for fly fishing.

Midge Nymph: A midge nymph is a little worm that has a divided body, containing red color owing to its diet. It is used as a subsurface everywhere in the water.

Midge Emerger: Midge Emerger, also known as pupa, is one of the essential forms of the midge patterns. They often make U-shape while they live just below the water surface.

Midge Adult: Midge Adults are the last ones that fly fishermen care about and are fished with a dry fly imitation. They are also small and often challenging to fish. You can also use a cluster pattern to get the best chances of imitating them. 

02. Mayfly

Mayflies are the well-designed insect of the fly fishing world. They are differentiated in sizes and colors. If you are a fly fisherman, you can use these like the parachute Adams, the mercury Baetis, Adams dry fly, pheasant tail, and comparadun.

How to Identify a Mayfly: If the fly has two wings, sitting vertically and straight up like a sailboat, it can probably be a mayfly. Most of the time, they emerge during the morning and evening hours.

You will also see trout that are slowly eating something on the surface.

Mayfly Nymph: Mayfly nymphs are divided into four groups: Clingers, Swimmers, Burrowers, and Crawlers. Most of the mayfly nymphs are usually imitated with the same pattern of flies, even if they are fished at different waters. These little creatures have 2 or 3 tails, long legs, and short antennae in their bodies.

Mayfly Emerger: Mayfly emergers are probably one of the most crucial stages for fly fishermen. Emergers stay below the surface or on the water. They have a husk behind their bodies, and you can also identify them to look at the flies’ mouth. 

Mayfly Adult: Mayfly adults are one of the most used flies, and you can easily identify them. They hardly spend much time on the water, although they have their wings intact for floating well.

03. Caddis

In the summer months, Caddis is born once by water temps heat of 50 degrees. Almost 200 species of Caddis are available in the UK. The largest one is more than 3cm long. The nymphs often develop in a casing, much like a caterpillar. Once they have developed, they swim to the surface. The adults also look like moths in flight, which have tent-shaped wings.

How to Identify a Caddis: In this case, individual special can be challenging for anglers to identify. Adult Caddis resembles moths, but they fold back along the body with their wings.

Instead of scales, they have an excellent set of hairs on their wings. Besides, some species might have long antennae.

You can easily identify caddis larvae without some distinctive cases.

Caddis Nymph: Caddisfly Nymphs usually live underwater. For spinning together, they gather leaves, stones, sand, and twigs with silk. When nymphs are able to become emerger, a few species perform free-swimming and build shelters for them.

Caddis Emerger: The emerger is somewhat bulky and has long legs for swimming to the surface. Within its exoskeleton, the trapped gas gives it a sparkling or shiny appearance. The legs allow it to reach the stream’s surface quickly, with enough momentum to break through the surface with great success.

Caddis Adult: Caddis adults are often found during the day on vegetation close to the water’s edge. These flies are essential food sources for every sort of predator, including Brown Trout and Atlantic salmon.

04. Stonefly

Stoneflies usually have two tails and two antennae. Unlike other insects, stoneflies creep out of the river and get out of the exoskeleton. You will also see them near the bank when they hatch.

How to identify a Stonefly: Anglers need to use a magnifying lens and a note to identify different kinds of stoneflies. They have to write down the details of mouthparts, leg segments, wing vein patterns, gills, and many more.

Stonefly Nymph: Stonefly larvae are aquatic, flattened, with six sprawling legs and with a segmented abdomen bearing two long antenna-like tails. For example, Gills are tuft like that are usually positioned at the bases of the legs. You will also find that each foot has two claws.

Stonefly Emerger: Most of the stoneflies cannot be emergers to swim to the water surface. Indeed, they emerge on land most of the time. Before emerging, nymphs move to the stream bottom. Then, they crawl out of the water onto streamside rocks. After that, they emerge and fly away from there. You may often get their vacant exoskeletons on rocks.

Stonefly Adult: Adults have two pairs of transparent wings, and the forewings cover the hindwings. They include long and threadlike antennae. Besides, colors are usually dull and dark, and they can also be drab brown, yellow, or green.

05. Dragonflies and Damselflies

The beautiful dragonflies and damselflies are among the fly fishing flies. They can apply a sprinkle of colors to your ponds and spend underwater as dull brown or greenish nymphs most of the lives, especially in the summertime.

How to Identify Dragonflies and Damselflies: These flies come with three-gill plates. You can find them at the end of the abdomen. 

Sometimes, you may find nymphs with one or more than one gill-plate missing. Like other insects, they shed their skin to grow.

Besides, they can also use their gill plates for swimming in an awkward S-shaped movement.

Dragonflies and Damselflies Nymph: Dragonfly nymphs are chunkier than the more slender damselfly larvae. They breathe from the end of the abdomen by opening and closing them. They also take water to the rectal gills inside. Besides, these nymphs can suck the water and force it out quickly. They are also allowed to swim using jet propulsion over short distances.

Dragonflies and Damselflies Emerger: In late spring, damselflies nymphs begin to hatch. The nymphs get rid of their skins so many times to grow to full size. When the time comes near to leave the water, their wind buds are developed. 

Dragonflies and Damselflies Adult: While most damselflies usually fulfill their development from eggs to adults in a year, some dragonflies spend two years or more before developing to adults.

06. Scuds & Sowbugs

Frequently, you’ll hear pink or orange scuds recommended as fly patterns, but you’ll never see a pink or orange scud swimming around. When they are dying or dead, they turn themselves into pink or orange colors. 

When fishing with a green scud, you will find the infrequent jerk or strip helpful. Here, the presentation can be an issue when water is frozen during fishing. 

When you need an excellent time to fish with a sowbug fly, you can use them after flushing them into the tide.

How to identify Scuds and Sowbugs? Scuds range from about 5 to 18 millimeters. They are generally a transparent olive-gray color and found anywhere there is aquatic vegetation. 

In some waters, they’re thick. If you fish with a seine net, kick up some dirt in a weedy area. The resulting scud will provide knowledge about why they hold a significant part of trout’s diet.

07. Annelids

Annelids are another type of fly fishing flies. You might make a mistake to think about them that they are earthworms or night crawlers.

Instead, they’re typically smaller and skinner aquatic worms, especially they are San Juan Worms in different colors. But there must be a ton of them in almost every fishery.

They are easy to make fishing flies. You just wrap your thread from the eye down to the bend, then bind with some a tufty, velvety cord or yarn.

After that, wrap almost back to the eye, tying on the chenille again. You can also include weight by attaching a copper wire.

08. Terrestrial

Terrestrial insects live outside the water. If they fall into the water due to carelessness, they are very welcome and quickly capturing nourishment. To the terrestrial, insects belong animals like grasshoppers, ants, beetles, caterpillars, and bees. You will also find little mammals as mice into this fly category.

They are designed to look like non-aquatic insects. These insects might fall prey to feeding fish after falling onto the water or being blown. 

Especially in summer and autumn, big fish can be tricked by artificial flies that are imitating terrestrial insects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of fly fishing flies?

Answer: There are five types of fly fishing flies available around you. Check out the below with short descriptions.

  • The Dry Fly: The dry fly is the state when flies get adult. They are used mostly as a fishing fly to catch more fish. It is such a useful fly that trout try to eat the fly quickly and easily come out.
  • The Wet Fly: In the fly fishing world, the wet fly is one of the most useful flies for anglers. It refers to a specific stage in the life cycle of insects, such as the mayfly, Caddis, or stonefly. In this particular period, the wet flies live underwater, at the bottom of lakes, and in the bed of the stream.
  • The Streamer Fly: The streamer is among the most useful flies for fish. It is considered as the second most effective fly after the nymphs. The trout tries to eat the fly as fast as possible. 
  • The Popper Fly: The popper is another effective fly for the anglers to catch a lot of fish. This proven fly is designed to move water using a hollowed or concave nose. It aims to imitate any distressed, moving creature on the surface of the water. In this case, the most typical imitations are baitfish, frogs, and insects.
  • The Saltwater Fly: Saltwater flies are mainly inshore, offshore, and estuarial saltwater baitfish. They also include shrimp and other saltwater game.

How do I identify a fly?

Answer: Fly fishing flies identification helps anglers have the right flies and make the chance to catch more fish. Typically, flies vary significantly in size, shape, and color because they are pretty confusing with one another.

Insect experts are the best equipped to differentiate between various species, but anglers must know some crucial factors of fly identification:

  • Size: Fly Fishing Flies come in different sizes, ranging from one-millimeter-long biting midges to one-inch horse flies in length.
  • Color: Yellow, brown, black, and iridescent green colors are standard for fly species. Primarily, those colors are often associated with dead animals.
  • Shape: The shape is one of the most crucial factors to identify a fly. Body shape can be like tiny gnats or the same as gangly. Flies can also have a mosquito-like look.  
  • Hair: Hair is another most essential factor in identifying fly fishing flies. While hairy drain flies have a moth-like look, shiny bottle flies tend to have little hair.
  • Eyes: Different flies have different eyes to identify. Typically, some flies have forward-facing, while others have goggle-shaped eyes.

How can you tell the difference between a wet fly and a dry fly?

Answer: I think the answer is into the question. Wet flies work under the water, and dry flies remain floating on the surface of the water. Wet flies can be nymphs, emergers, streamers, hatching flies, or other types of larger bait. On the contrary, dry flies can resemble full-grown flies, insects, etc.

Another significant difference between wet and dry flies is the size of the flies. Wet flies usually run from a size 10 and larger. Dry flies typically run from a 12 and smaller.

What is the difference between a midge and a nymph?

Answer: A midge is a small two-winged fly found all over the world. Its imitations can be fished dry as a cluster of flies or an adult fly.

I think its young form is indeed a larva, which is not a nymph. It’s because it doesn’t look like an adult.

The critical difference between a midge and a nymph is the midge holds U-shape. It often makes this shape while it lives just below the water surface.

Final Words

Hope you find this guide helpful while having the best fly fishing flies. Now it’s up to you to choose a fly fishing kit that suits your needs. I would suggest you go out for an adventure and try each of them.

In the above discussion, I’ve tried to deliver you the best possible way how to identify fly fishing flies to make your fishing experience easy.

Now you’re feeling prepared and ready to take you on the stream. Enjoy fishing with the right fly fishing flies.

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