The selection of fly patterns when targeting trout is vast and quite endless. Some patterns are specifically designed for an area and/or time, whereas other patterns are simply designed for year-round success. The objective with the pattern selection here is versatility. While it is essential in many scenarios to “match-the-hatch”, only having ten patterns to choose from means we must be efficient with our choices. The essence of the selection is to have multiple sizes, colours and styles that are mixed to best resemble one or many tickets for both lakes and rivers. Narrowing down the options to 10 possibilities is not easy, but the ones you will see here must be part of the game plan.
1. Diawl Bach
Translating to “little devil”, this simple pattern holds true to its meaning. It is ideally used during a chironomid or mayfly emergence but when tied in larger sizes it can resemble damsels, dragons and caddis. Whether it is swung in a riffle or retrieved on a clear intermediate, it is hard to compare nymph patterns more versatile than this. Simple and effective.
Trout seldom pass up a juicy leech pattern. I find the “egg” in egg sucking leech to be more of a hot spot than the actuality of a leech feeding on an egg. Also, I find the pattern is most effective because of the silhouette. It can be tied in dull colours to represent leeches, damsels and dragons or tied with bright colours to be more of a lure. Either under an indicator, slow or fast sink, a go-to searching pattern in both lakes and rivers.
A super effective mayfly imitation but again, can be used for other tickets. This pattern can be fished in both lakes and rivers but is most predominantly used in rivers. The heavy bead and thin profile help this fly penetrate the water column as fast as possible to get to the feeding zone. When the trout are keying on a mayfly emergence, throw on a rainbow warrior for good results.
This pattern cannot be overlooked as many large sized trout can be directly linked to a healthy diet of scuds. It is another foundational searching pattern that can be tied on with confidence. In lakes, it is very common for trout to swim above the weeds with their mouths wide open just inhaling scuds by the hundreds. This pattern is best worked on a slow sinking line and a slow retrieve. Olive is a sure bet as it can also represent many other aquatic invertebrates.
Good ol’ chironomid fishing. Undeniably one of the most effective way to fish, simply because it is a trout’s main food source. This pattern uses new materials that put the wits of the fish to the test. Chironomid patterns are in a league of their own, with thousands of sub-species that have the most unique colours, this combo is a sure bet.
These little buggers have to be one of the most fun patterns to fish, which is definitely essential here. I get excited like a kid on Christmas whenever I walk the shoreline and see backswimmers kicking about or find them in throat/stomach samples. Best fished on a fast sink line and erratic one-inch strips. They say, “the tug is the drug” and this pattern will make you realize why. Unlike many other food items that move slowly, backswimmers don’t, and the opportunistic trout swimming by will ravenously attack so hold on tight.
The most versatile pattern known to anglers is the Wooly Bugger. This pattern is one of the most effective searching patterns for trout. It can imitate just about every aquatic invertebrate and more. Trout have been fooled by this pattern since its origin and this variation is sure to land you fish no matter where in the world you use it.
Another river pattern that is as simple as it gets. This pattern pertains to spawning season as the eggs get swept into the flow and predated on by just about every fish in the system. Fish will follow behind the other spawning ones or even purposely bump into them to knock eggs free to feed on. Use a variety of sizes to match the water conditions you are fishing. I created this pattern while fishing the south Thompson river, particularly when the water is murky as it is intended to be a very bright and attractive pattern.
Hands down the most versatile dry fly out there. With the variations available, there is nothing this fly cannot imitate. Whether on a lake or river, the Griffiths gnat dry fly imitates a variety of hatched insects. From a static size 16 mayfly to a size 10 skating caddis. No matter the occasion, a box dedicated to dry flies is essential and the Griffiths gnat should be in there!
The Stoplight Buzzer is a quick and easy pattern meant for high visibility in poor lighting conditions. Taken from the original “shipman’s buzzer”, this pattern was originally tied as an adult chironomid/mayfly imitation. With the changes over the years, the stoplight buzzer variation aids with contrasting colours to easily locate the fly in fast moving waters or during sunrise/sunset. After the fish have waterlogged the fly, a couple false casts will clear that right up.