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Best Flies for Catching Brown Trout Fly Fishing

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The single best fly for catching brown trout is the black woolly bugger with a brass head.

Most fly fishing anglers target trout, everything from cutthroats to brook trout, but I think it is safe to say that we all love catching brown trout. The reason brown trout are some of the best fish to get on the end of your fly line is because of how big they can get, and of course they can be tricky to catch. That and their coloring make them amazing fish to land.

We head out to the rivers weekly in search of brown trout. They can be found in streams and lakes as well, but we find that the browns in the rivers are our favorite to catch. This past summer I caught my PB (personal best) brown on a size 8 black woolly bugger. It weighed just over 5 pounds!

In this blog we will cover the best fly patterns when targeting brown trout on a fly rod. You can catch them on nymphs, dries, wets, hoppers, and of course streamers.

Let’s dive in!

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What do brown trout eat?

Everything. Brown trout feast on subsurface insects, like all other fish.

They will feed from the surface as well, normally flies, but also grasshoppers and anything else that lands on the water. Caddis flies, mayflies, midges, stoneflies, etc.

Certain species of fish tend to eat specific insects more than others, which is why I wanted to touch on some of the best flies that you can use to increase your chances of getting those big browns to strike your fly.

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Best brown trout fly patterns

When it comes to the best fly patterns for catching trout, it is best to break them down into their respective categories. Some anglers prefer to only use dry flies, while others like streamers or nymphs. I like to use every method as it increases my chances, but if there is a hatch on, I will definitely be matching it.

Midges/ Nymphs

Pheasant Tail

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Hare’s Ear

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Crazy Rubber Leg Stonefly

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Zebra Midge

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San Juan Worm

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Micro Loop Egg

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Stonefly

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    Wet Flies/ Streamers

    Woolly Bugger

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    Clouser Minnow

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    Tandem Hook Olive Streamer

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    Schultzy’s Red Eye Leech

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    Dry Flies

    Elk Hair Caddis

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    Parachute Adams

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    Klinkhammer Emerger

    https://zingerfishing.com/products/klinkhammer-emerger-dry-flies?_pos=1&_sid=7a1ff7e79&_ss=r

    Blue Quill

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    Hoppers

    Elk Hair Hopper

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    Baile’s Panther Creek Hopper

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    All of these flies can be found at the Zinger Fishing online store. 

     

    Matching the hatch

    Brown trout are no different than every other fish species! If there is a hatch on, try and match it! Hatches are when the natural insects in the water are evolving from their larva or pupa state into adult flies that surface, then fly away. Fish love to feed on these massive hatches when they happen. As an angler, you want to match the natural insect, whether that be in its subsurface form or its surface adult or emerger form.

    If you match the natural insects, the fish will likely strike your fly pattern as it looks like the naturals. If you are using a random fly pattern during a hatch, your chances of getting a strike will go down because the fish will be focusing on what it plentiful in the water.

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    What is the best type of hook to use to catch browns?

    In my opinion, I believe nymphs will land you the most brown trout all around. The reason for this is simple. Brown trout feed on subsurface insects the most, so if you are fishing subsurface, then you will have the best chance.

    If you are wanting to land larger brown trout, then streamers are best to use throughout the year. Big trout have big appetites. Streamers imitate small baitfish, which large trout love. I have a good friend that only uses streamers because of how awesome the thrill can be of landing monster browns. He does land some beauties, but he doesn’t catch as many fish as the rest of us that use nymphs and other flies.

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    Presentation of your fly

    Brown trout can be skeptical fish, which means that your fly needs to look as natural as possible. If your fly looks off, the brown wont strike it.

    • Dry fly fishing – When using dries, make sure that you are using a long leader and as thin of tippet as possible. This will ensure that when the fly lands on the water, it is a soft landing that looks like a natural fly. You will have to use a dry fly cast for this to work.
    • Nymphing – When using nymphs, your drag is the most important part. The speed of the current should match that of your strike indicator. If your indicator is moving faster or slower than the current, this will look unnatural and the fish won’t bite. Mending your line is imperative when keeping up with the drift.
    • Streamer fly fishing – When using streamers, you need to make your flies look like bait fish. This is done by stripping your fly line in 4-10 inch increments. You don’t want to strip too fast or too slow, a nice medium speed is perfect.
    • Hopper fly fishing – Hoppers are so much fun to use! Watching a big brown trout surface and devour your hopper is a glorious site. Some anglers prefer to keep their hoppers still and others will add a little action to it. I find that I receive more strikes when I had a little action every 10 seconds or so. It makes it look like a live grasshopper is on the water.

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    Conclusion

    Fly fishing for brown trout is one hell of an experience. The browns like to hang out in the seams of water currents, so make sure to try in those areas. Send in any pictures you take of landing browns on the flies suggested in this blog, and receive a discount on your next purchase from the Zinger Fishing store. Good luck out there!

     

    If you like reading about fly fishing, our Zinger Fishing blog has a wide variety of different articles. We cover places to fish, what patterns to use, techniques, gear, and everything else to help fellow anglers land more fish in their nets.