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Top 10 Best Flies for Trout

Want to Catch more fish? This list is the Top 10 best flies for trout. It will put more fish in your net.

  • Prince Nymph
  • Copper John Nymph
  • Hare's Ear Nymph
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph
  • Zebra Midge - Chironomid 
  • Caddis
  • Adams
  • Woolly Bugger
  • Scud
  • Drakes

Prince Nymph

The Prince Nymph is easily one of the top 10 best flies for trout fly fishing. The distinctive wing, tail structure and the glowing peacock hurl body makes this fly a major go-to in any fast water stream. Doug Prince developed the Prince Nymph in the 1930s.

The Prince Nymph pattern is what I would term an attractor nymph, as it doesn't really look like any particular aquatic insect. However; because of it's all around appearance and depending on its size and how it is fished, it could easily be taken for a wide variety of insects, such as a stonefly, sowbug, backswimmer, etc.

There are many ways to fish a Prince Nymph fly pattern. One of these great ways to fish them is by using a euro nymph rig set up with a strike indicator. Use a couple of flies with the lightest on the bottom. Don't forget to use a small amount of split shot, 4 to 6 inches above your top hook. Using a euro nymphing rig setup, you need to get the hooks deep into the water column, as that is where the fish are usually located.

Copper John


The Copper John is one of the all time best nymphs you could possibly have in your fly box. It is the top selling nymph ever sold. It's attractive qualities given to it by the copper wire and peacock herl make it irresistible to trout. The Copper John was originally designed by John Barr and has taken on many variations of change since its birth in 1993.

This fly can be tied and fished in many ways to imitate a multitude of aquatic insects from Mayflies to Back-swimmers. Trout love this fly pattern. While lots of nymphs have been adapted to sink faster with either a bead head or metal wrap on the body, the Copper John comes standard with both.

A few ways to fish the Copper John is a euro nymphing rig with a strike indicator. The Copper John is acting like a split shot getting your nymphing rig set up down to the trout. The other method worth mentioning comes from John Barr himself. The Hopper/Copper/Dropper system is a foam hopper that you will use as your lead fly that will act as a strike indicator. Then place on the Copper John and finish it off with a small nymph pattern.

The Copper John will get fish in the net on those slow days out on the streams, rivers and lakes.

 Hares Ear Nymph

The Hare's Ear Nymph is in the top 10 best flies for trout. The gold ribbon and bead do a great job at attracting the fish's attention. The gold bead also helps to get the depth needed for fly fishing.

It is an older fly pattern that imitates a variety of aquatic life including scuds, sow bugs, mayfly nymphs and caddis larvae. The Hare's Ear Nymph will attract fish even when there is no hatch on that day. The texture and color of the natural materials such as game cock soft hackle, gold tinsel ribbing and cock pheasant tail conveys a buggy outline of a natural fly.

Using a euro nymphing rig setup is one of the many ways to fish with the Hare's Ear Nymph on rivers and streams. When on lakes and ponds, try a stripping / streamer setup. Use a Woolly Bugger or leach as your lead fly. Then use 2 to 4 feet of tippet in between the Wooly Bugger and Hare's Ear. Try to keep the striping a bit slower so it gives your nymphing rig time to sink. Use a weighted streamer line instead of your normal floating line to help you get your flies to a deeper depth.

 Pheasant Tail Nymph



The Pheasant Tail Nymph is one of the best flies for trout and many other fish species. Its color resembles an olive nymph. Frank Sawyer created the Pheasant Tail Nymph in 1958. He designed this nymph to imitate several species of the Baetis family, generally referred to as the Olives. It quickly became world famous for one of the most effective nymph patterns.

The Pheasant Tail Nymph is an incredibly effective nymph pattern that works well throughout all seasons. The Pheasant Tail Nymph is a great imitation of the mayfly. Many fly fishing anglers count this fly as one of their go to attractor nymphs for trout fishing. It's like the Hare’s Ear Nymph as it is a general nymph that can imitate a wide range of underwater insects. 

There are many different ways to fish with the Pheasant Tail Nymph. The euro nymphing rig set up with a strike indicator is the most common. Another great way is the Czech nymphing rig set up. When fishing with both of these techniques don't forget to set the hook on anything that could be a strike. Most anglers don't set the hook enough.

Zebra Midge - Chironomid



The Zebra Midge - Chironomid is one of the best flies for trout in all types of bodies of water. There are many different patterns when it comes to the Zebra Midge fly. It's always a good idea to carry a wide range of Zebra Midges in your fly box. You will have most of your luck with these hooks in the smaller sizes from 18 to 24.  

The Zebra Midge is designed primarily to imitate a midge pupa ascending to the surface to emerge. It's most effective to use when you see fish feeding closer to the surface of the water.

How to fish a Zebra Midge - Chironomid: 

When you see small rises that are actually trout taking the pupa just under the surface it is time to try the Zebra Midge. It is helpful to use your euro nymphing rig setup or Czech Nymphing setup. You can also use a hopper dropper rig setup. Another great way is with a large dry fly like a Parachute Adams. Use a 12-inch tail line to the Zebra Midge.



When talking dry flies, the Elk Hair Caddis is one of the best flies for trout when the hatch is on. The Elk Hair Caddis was created by Al Troth in 1957. It's widely known as one of the best dry flies to have in your fly fishing box. Originally tied to imitate the Green Caddis hatch, the Elk Hair Caddis has since been tied in a variety of wing, hackle and body colors to simulate different caddis and small stoneflies patterns.

The pupae and adult stages of the caddis-fly life cycle are the most important stages for the fly fisherman to take advantage of. There are many different colors of caddis hatches throughout the fly fishing seasons, so it's a good idea to have a few of each.

How to fish the dry fly Caddis:

The first is the basic upstream and across technique that presents the flies dead-drifted to the fish. Place an immediate mend in the line upstream to the current, allowing the dry fly to float dead and drag free down the river or stream. Cast the flies across the stream several feet ahead of your target. Once the fly has passed the target, pick up the slackline and reposition the fly for a new drift. The biggest mistake is not keeping your dry flies in a dead drift, so don't forget to keep mending lightly when needed. When you are at the end of your drift and about to make your next cast, make sure your cast is very light to your new target to avoid spooking the fish.



The Adams fly pattern is in the top three dry fly patterns for dry fly fishing, making it one of the best flies for trout. The Adams is widely used around the world in all types of bodies of water. It was designed by Leonard Halladay in 1922.

It is considered a general imitation of numerous small flies, such as an adult mayfly, flying caddis or midge where you will see hatches of these small flies throughout the entire year.

How to fish the Adams dry fly:

One of the most effective ways to fish these flies is the double dry fly technique. Use a 15ft leader to your first fly, then use 12 inches of tippet to your tailing fly. Keep the two dry flies a foot apart. While using two flies at a time, you will double your chances of catching fish.

Woolly Bugger


The Woolly Bugger is hands down the best all around wet fly. It's widely known all around the world. It's in the top 10 list, making it one of the best flies for trout. The Woolly Bugger fly pattern was created by Russell Blessing in 1967. Most avid anglers have caught some of their biggest fish with this fly. 

Depending on the material you use the Woolly Bugger can resemble large nymphs, baitfish, leech, drowning terrestrial insects, clamworms, crayfish and shrimp. The materials usually used to tie these flies are marabou for the tail, chenille for the body and brass or tungsten for the heads.

How to fish the Woolly Bugger:

The streamer technique is great when you are fishing still bodies of water or when in tight areas on rivers and streams. When using a euro nymphing rig set up, use the Woolly Bugger as your lead fly. One way that works great is banking the Woolly Bugger off the bank of a stream. Use this banking technique in the summer months when the caterpillars and butterflies are out. It's another great way to hook that fish of a lifetime!



 The Bead Head Scud is an underrated nymph that can get missed. There are around 85 different spies of scuds. Scuds are 100% aquatic. They never hatch into winged adults the way that many other aquatic insects do. They also make up around 20% of a trout diet.

How to fish a Scud:

Scuds are most active in low light, such as the evening or when it’s overcast.  They like to live in thick vegetation or be down tight to the riverbed or bottom of the pond. You will have to get the flies down deep. Using a Czech nymphing set up with a Scud works great for streams and rivers. Use a Euro nymphing rig setup with a strike indicator when fishing in ponds and lakes. Don't forget to fish the edges and banks of the lakes to get the scuds into the weeds. The average Scud ranges in hook size from 12 to 16.



Yellow Drakes take a long time and make a lot of commotion trying to get off the water. Which will attract the fish from always away.

 The Dun is not considered as important or effective as the emergers or the spinners but they will certainly catch trout. It is easier to see the take during the low light conditions overcast or dusk or at night using this large dry fly than it is the emerger and you may very well end up catching more fish on the dun than the emerger because of that.

The hatch is best on cool, dry days. On cloudy days, the duns may emerge all day long.

 When fishing the yellow drake fly pattern you are better off waiting for a trout to start feeding within casting distance and then making your presentation. So you avoid spooking the fish with this bigger dry fly pattern.

 A down and across presentation to a feeding trout would be the ideal situation, but be careful fishing at night. While standing in the middle of the river don't forget your headlamps. The foam fly pattern floats very well helping you see the fly on the cloudy or nights.

 Unlike other mayflies in the Ephemera family, which hatch from the water in a flurry over a week, the Yellow Drake will emerge over a month, providing nearly constant action for the fly angler! This fly is a must have in your fly fishing box you don't want to be on the river when the yellow drake hatch is on without one of these yellow drakes.

 Use these flies and techniques and you will be landing more fish. Check out for these flies and more.