Fly Tying

For many fly fishers, tying a fly and then catching a fish with it is an awesome feeling or better yet, targeting a specific fish and getting it to take the fly that you tied. The FATC feels that learning to tie flies not only increases our fly fishing knowledge but offers a great way to enjoy our sport. We hope that the fly tying videos on this page give you the means and the knowledge to tie some awesome flies.

Flys of Missouri

So many of the new guys ask before their first trip, what kinds of flies they should buy before we go. As I teach in class, I believe you should always buy flies specifically for the place you are going to fish. In other words, don't but the 100 flies for $50 package you see in some sporting goods stores. You would probably never use 80% of the flies that are in the package deal. So with that said what flies do we use the most in our Missouri waters. Here is a list of flies that I like and use most here in Missouri. This is not an all inclusive list, but it will get you started (these are not in any special order)!

  • Woolly Buggers - Olive and Black (sometimes White)- sizes 8 - 14 (Bead head or wired hook)
  • Soft Hackle - Dark and light Color (there are many variations/colors of soft hackles) - sizes 18, 16, 14
  • Cracklebacks - olive and dark - sizes 16,14 (a green Holographic that does well!)
  • Scuds - Tan and gray, orange (to represent dead ones) - sizes 18, 16, 14
  • Griffith's Gnat - Black w/grizzley hackle - sizes 20-16
  • San Juan Worm - red, brown, "cerise", and shammy materiel - sizes 10-16
  • Elk Hare Caddis - tan  - sizes 18,16
  • Prince nymph - sizes 18, 16, 14 - bead head
  • Copper John - copper, red and blue (yes, Blue) sizes 12-18
  • Midge pupa - black, burgundy, red, primrose and pearl - sizes 20, 18, 16 - bead head
  • Caddis Larva - all types in tan and kelly green - sizes 18, 16, 14
  • Stimulators - yellow and green - sizes 14 and 12
  • Mayfly drys - different styles (make sure you have small Trico and BWO) - sizes 12 through 20
  • X-Caddis - represents an emerging Caddis adult- looks like a elk hair caddis but with out the "hackle" tied around the body

If any of you have a favorite fly for Missouri that is not on this list please let us know.

Dry Flies

Dry Fly fishing, to many fly fishers, is the ultimate way to fly fish. Seeing the trout take your fly off the surface can be very exciting. All aquatic insects have an adult stage that calls for the use of a dry fly. Dry flies must float so they are usually tied with materials that float well on the surface of the water, like foam, deer/elk hair, CDC feathers and the like. When a hatch occurs or the insects are laying their eggs on the surface, it may be time to use a dry fly. Don't forget to have some type of floatant available to help your dry fly stay afloat. Paste is good for deer hair and foam while CDC prefers powder type floatant. When adding dry flies to your fly box you can store them by aquatic insect they represent or just in a "dry fly" fly box. (Mayfly spinners are those mayfly adults that have mated and lie on the surface dead.)

Mayfly

Mayfly Spinners

Caddisfly

Midges

Stonefly

Nymphs/Larva

Experts say that trout eat 80% of the time underwater. Then as fly fishers why wouldn't we fish for trout 80% of the time with nymphs and larva. Using nymph/larva type flies will give us an advantage of catching more fish than the "dry fly only" fly fisher. But it is important to use the correct nymph/larva that matches the time of year and location where you are fishing. Remember mayflies and stoneflies have a nymph stage while caddis and midges have a larva stage. If the fly you are tying has a tail then it is probably representing a nymph (check the pictures). Set up your fly box with nymphs in one section and larva in another - it will help you quickly decide on what fly to use.

Mayfly

Caddisfly

Midge

Stonefly

Emergers

Emerger flies are just what the name implies. It is the term we use when an aquatic insect is attempting to emerge or exit the surface of the water to become an adult. These type of flies are fished near the surface or film layer in the water column of the stream or river. Most emerging flies will have their wing buds developed or if they are a "crippled" fly (a fly that will not make it to an adult stage) they will have their wings half out or broken, etc. The trout know that these struggling insects are easy pickings as they try to exit the water as an adult. Fish these flies when you see a splashing rise and it looks like the trout are in a feeding frenzy. Swing them or dead drift them near the surface. 

Mayfly

Caddis

Midge

Soft Hackle

The soft hackle fly doesn't represent any particular type of aquatic insect but it is a deadly fly for those trout that are feeding in the film layer of the stream or river. The soft hackle can represent that insect that is trying to make it's way to the surface, with it's wings starting to show but unable to emerge, similar to an emerger fly. The difference is the soft hackle is tied with a soft hackle feather such as a partridge feather or a hen feather. These soft hackles give the fly a look of an undulating wing or legs that entice the trout to strike. They are best fished using the wet fly swing technique. Every fly box has a dozen or so soft hackles for those days when the trout are rising to emerging insects.

Mayfly 

Caddis 

Terrestrials

Terrestrials are what the name suggests - insects from the earth or land. The main terrestrials that we use for fly fishing are grasshoppers, beetles, and ants. Most terrestrials are prevalent in the summer and fall. When the winds blow and farmers cut their fields, many terrestrials take flight and the unlucky ones end up in the river as food. These insects are usually fished on the surface and are made of foam or deer hair. Foam beetles are usually in black, ants are black, brown, red but hoppers can come in a variety of colors from natural colors all the way to pink bodies. Many of these flies will have a bright post added to them for better visibility. When fishing them don't try to set them down on the water gently, smack them down so the trout know that they have arrived.

Scuds, Worms, etc

 This category covers many different and unique flies that should be in your fly box. Leeches, scuds, worms (from small San Juan worms to our big Cerise Worm), cranefly larva and more. They can be fished in unique situations or as a search pattern to find fish. Probably the most famous of these flies is the woolybugger. It can imitate a leech or a bait fish depending on how it is fished.

Fly Tying Tips

Here are one minute fly tying tips from Tim Flagler's Tightline Productions. Check out these tips to improve your fly tying!