7 Best Trout Fishing Flies (2023 Buying Guide)

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Fly fishing for trout is a common pastime in the western parts of the United States. With rod and reel in hand, anglers will traverse some of the most beautiful terrains in North America in search of elusive delicious game fish

Mountain streams, coniferous forests, and wily fish make the fly fishing expedition much more enjoyable.

Selecting the proper flies for trout can be the difference between returning empty-handed or with a stringer full of aquatic delicacies. Below is a list of the best trout flies.

best trout flies
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1. Woolly Booger Fishing Fly

Best All-Around Fly

Key Features

  • Works well in adverse conditions
  • Works well weighted and unweighted
  • Enticing gold bead head.

Capable of making baked fish, baby catfish, leeches, crawfish, sculpins, and nymphs, the woolly booger fly can do it all. Its elongated marabou teal provides flutter appeal and bulk, and it is the perfect streamer for high or dirty water or cold weather.

Its top colors are brown, olive, or black, and the woolly boogers’ best size range from 2 to 10. Anglers should match their fly size to whatever forage they may find or determine the right fly by the size of the trout. 

Woolly boogers work greatly unweighted in shallow water, and with a bit of lead, they can reach near the bottom.

2. Zonker Fishing Fly

Best DIY Fly

Key Features

  • Heavier Fly
  • Excellent for working the lower spectrum of the water column
  • DIY Fly

What You Need:

The Zonker is a fan favorite, with huge brown trout on the heavier side. The most effective coming in Pearl, olive, and black, this fly is one of the best simulations of a minnow on the market. 

A combination of a mylar body and thin strips of rabbit fur, from which it derives the name Zonker, this fly is a DIY. 

Capable of working the very bottom of the water column with a split shot on the leader, the Zonker can dead drift through back eddies and dark holes, twitching enticingly and luring out any trout looking for an easy ambush.

3. Clouse Minnow Fly

Best Bottom Fishing Fly

Key Features

  • Epoxy head and metallic eyes
  • Works the bottom of the water column well
  • Handcrafted streamers

Over the years, the Clouser minnow has fooled many fish and provides a time-tested fly to any serious angler’s arsenal. 

Its epoxy head and metallic eyes retain their finish after hundreds of casts while still providing the glimmer trout lock onto like a homing beacon. And when this flight goes deep, it stays there, moving through the depths where the biggest trout lurk in search of easy prey.

4. San Juan Worm Fly

Best Worm Fly

Key Features

  • Worm imitation
  • Minimalist design
  • Excellent Dead drift fly

As minimalistic as they come, the San Juan worm fly takes “Keep It Simple” to a whole new level. Intentionally imitating aquatic worm species, this fly works well when dead drift through pockets, runs, and pool tail outs. 

With colors like red and maroon as the best performers, the San Juan Worm fly produces trout en mass. Lacking the fancy design features of other flies, this worm replicant is an attention grabber for trout watching the surface for a quick meal.

5. Betts Black Ant

Best Insect Fly

Key Features

  • Imitation insect
  • Looks like a struggling ant onto the water
  • Durable Hook

One of the best imitation insect flies out there. This versatile fly comes with a rock-solid mustard hook and a lifelike build. With a pattern as deadly as it looks, this ant replica looks like a drowning arthropod when retrieved. 

Its slender waist and pronounced fur work well if ants or anywhere in the forage. Attach to the leader, and bring it through any calm offshoot or pool, and anglers will be sure to find a bite.

6. Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph

Most Natural Looking Fly

Key Features

  • Natural Look
  • Works well in both shallow and deep water
  • Shaggy build

The nymphs come in various shapes and sizes; the very best usually stem from stock patterns. Ranging from size 6-18, the unweighted versions of the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph work best for trout nibbling on the surface, while the heavier models scourge the depths where the larger trout may be lying in wait.

Incorporating a grayish-brown dull fur accentuated by gold ribbing, this striking yet natural look is sure to put a gleam in the eye of any hungry trout. This fly works well in shallow water when used in conjunction with an 8 to 10-foot leader, float line, and strike indicator.

7. Blue Winged Olive Fly

Best Winged Insect Fly

Key Features

  • Best Winged Insect Imitation
  • Rock Solid Hook
  • Bite Producing Lure for adverse conditions 

The Blue Winged Olive fly is the best there is when it comes to imitating a winged insect. Ranging in size from 14-24, this fly works well on overcast or drizzly days. These incredibly productive flies sell quickly both on the water and in stores, so stocking up on them is necessary. 

With its well-crafted hook, color variety, and life-like imitation of a Dragonfly or Mayfly, this fly has been known to catch trout even on snowy days. Any angler worth their salt should do themself a favor and immediately buy a box. 

When it comes to fly fishing for trout, one of the key pieces to success is selecting the right fly—rummaging through the forage and paying attention to the size of the fish and the environment to make the difference in a full stringer or an empty ice chest. 

Anglers serious about their craft should look into building their own, as each fly mentioned above can be constructed and replicated at home with the right supplies.

In studying the weather, environment, forage, and fish, anglers will quickly be able to determine the proper fly for any given situation. As always, good luck, and stay safe on the water. 

Jacob Pelle
Fishing Expert
Jake Pelle is a third-generation outdoorsman and Eagle Scout. He grew up fishing ponds and rivers in South Louisiana and Mississippi and graduated to fishing brackish/marsh and coastal waters for redfish, drum, and speckled trout. When not on a flat range, he can be found with rod and reel in hand searching for the next greatest fishing hole in South Louisiana.
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