Who’s smarter: you or a trout?
Believe us when we say we mean no insult by that question.
Trout fishing involves the fisherman in a whole set of predatory questions and necessities. The way you cast, the movements you use, and most important of all, the flies you use all have their part to play in successful trout fishing.
Because of course, fish are fish and people are people, but under no circumstances should you make the mistake of thinking trout are stupid.
Just like predator hunting on land, you’re pitting your wits, your instincts, and the genius of those who have studied the fish over hundreds of years against a creature which has either been honed by evolution or crated by a god with one single imperative – not to get caught.
That means almost the whole business of trout fishing is about getting into the fish’s mindset. Be too obvious in your approach and the trout will swim on by, no matter how flashy and delicious-looking your fly is. But play the game with the trout, pretend you yourself don’t exist in its world, and the quality of your fly might pull the hungry fish into your trap.
But the world is absolutely full of flies for trout. Home-woven flies are probably the secret pride of most experienced trout fishermen. Flies handed down like secret treasures from master to apprentice are a ritual prize better than rubies for the dedicated trouter.
But even the world of simple, commercial trout flies is swarming with contenders, backed by science, study, and experience in use. You name it, there’s someone who’s used it to create the best new trout fly in the world.
So how do you know which are really the best flies for trout?
Let us fill your tackle box. We’ve found the best flies for trout currently on the commercial market. They may not be invested with the triumphs of generations of trout fishermen – but they’re almost guaranteed to help you catch trout on a regular basis.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best Flies For Trout - Comparison Table
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Best Flies For Trout - Reviews
The FISHINGSIR handmade kit is our top pick not because it’s suitable for all trout fishers – it isn’t. But it is probably the kit on the market that’s of most use to newcomers to trout fishing.
Before you build and wind your own, before you even have enough knowledge to understand how to do that, the FISHINGSIR set gives you everything you need to get up and going.
The 120-piece set includes dry flies, nymph flies, and streamer flies – pretty much everything you need to start credibly catching trout. All the flies are made to resemble the bugs which are trout’s main food, which means depending on any permitting issues, you’ll be able to use the FISHINGSIR kit all the way round your first year of trout fishing.
All you need to do is to move through the flies according to the right time of the year – when the bugs would be at a particular stage of their development, use the fly that matches that stage and what you do is cater to the trout’s expectations.
It expects certain bugs to look a certain way at various points in the year. Pander to those expectations and you put the fish off its guard. Get the trout off its guard, and boom! Trout for supper.
Quality though is actually more important than quantity – you can cast 120 flies in the water – if the trout doesn’t recognize them as looking like lunch, it won’t bite.
The FISHINGSIR flies are all handmade – there’s no mechanization involved here, no reduction of fishing to an algorithm. The fact that these are all handmade flies speaks to the craftsmanship and care that’s gone into giving you the best chance to catch trout all year round when you start out.
It’s also useful that the kit comes in a waterproof box, sensibly ranked through the year, so you can take the box with you to the waterline, and make quick, educated choices of the right fly or flies to use.
So – handmade, round the year flies that help you hone your trout fishing skills, in a useful waterproof organizing box. Where’s the bad?
If anywhere, it’s in the fact that these flies don’t last forever, any more than actual living flies do. You’re unlikely to be able to pass the FISHINGSIR flies down to the next generation, because after you’ve used them a few times, there’s a chance they’ll fall to pieces.
But then, they’re not priced to be everlasting heirlooms. They’re priced to be practical aids to the first yearful of steps on your trout fishing journey. On that basis, they’re difficult to beat, and that’s why they’re at the top of our list.
The 12-piece fly set from Piscifun will appeal to fishers who need regular replacement flies without breaking the bank, rather than beginners to the trout fishing life, who’ll benefit from greater variety.
There’s no doubting the quality of the Piscifun flies - they’re hand-tied by professional anglers with some strong hooks to get the job done.
They’re also bright and vividly-coloured, meaning they’re useful in flowing water to catch the attention of the trout, but they’re all of a particular type, rather than, for instance, having the year-round range of the FISHINGSIR set.
These are more suited to anglers who know their business. That said, the Piscifun are attractor flies, rather than anything that’s intended to look like particular elements of the trout’s diet.
Good handmade attractor flies, quality materials, and a great price point make the Piscifun flies worth your time and money, and, unlike the FISHINGSIR kit, the combination of quality materials and hand-tying mean you can re-use the Piscifun flies for longer.
But you probably need to be a more experienced trout fisher to get the most out of the Piscifun flies. If that’s you, you can’t do better for the price.
Let’s get specific. From year-round ‘match-the-hatch’ kits for beginners to attractor flies for the more experienced trout fisherman, the options are endless, but when it comes to picking particular, individual flies, you can’t do better than the Prince Nymph flies from Flies Direct.
Meant to look like a very specific insect, the hardcore materials and hand-twisting in the Flies Direct offering helps to bring the trout to your fly, and ultimately to the bank.
The Flies Direct set is specifically aimed at exploiting the relationship between the trout and the prince nymph insect, and users regularly report using them to catch big fish.
That said, they come with different sized hooks, so you can judge the size of fish you’re aiming for on any given day’s fishing.
If there’s a down side to the Flies Direct Prince Nymph set, it’s that they’re not the longest-lasting flies on the market.
But in terms of buying a simple, well-built, set of insect-imitating flies that bring all the trout to your yard, it’s difficult to beat the Flies Direct set, which is why they make it into third place on our list.
Want some luxury?
Step right this way.
The Ventures Fly Company Premium Hand Tied Assortment advertises itself as premium, as luxury, and as effective, whether you’re new to trout fishing or a long-experienced trout fisherman.
Does it stack up?
Yes. Yes, it does.
You get 122 hand-tied flies in this collection, including what you might call the ‘must-haves’ of trout fishing.
There’s a ‘match-the-hatch’ ideology in this collection, which works both for new trout fishers who are aiming to fish their first year round and sharpen their skills, and for more established fishers who want every last trout they can get, month in, month out, either for eating, for sale, for trophies, or just to prove to themselves that they can do it.
Whichever type of trout fisherman you are, you can be sure of having the right fish at the right time with the variety contained in the Ventures assortment.
Like the list-leading FISHINGSIR collection, the Ventures collection comes in a fly box with in-built organization – two 24-compartment boxes, each of 7.5 x 5 x 1.5 inches, mean you can fit your organized fly collection in a jacket, a bag or a pack. Simply pull out the boxes when you’re waterside for all the flies you could possibly need.
Whether you’re new or experienced, there’s enough in the Ventures assortment to give you choices, and to ensure you’ve got the right flies at the right moment to maximize your trout-fishing effectiveness all year round.
User experience with this collection is almost universally positive – 89% of those who reviewed the Ventures assortment on Amazon gave it five stars.
The remaining 11% gave it four stars. That’s got to tell you something about the enjoyment and results these flies are bringing trout anglers all around America.
And while this won’t matter to many trout fishers, Ventures Fly Company is based in Utah, with all American customer service.
Treat yourself this year – stop nickel-and-diming your fly collection. Go big, go Venture, and probably never look back.
Yes, absolutely, we’re back with Flies Direct for a second insect-replica fly. The Elk Hare Caddis Brown assortment from Flies Direct includes three each at four different hook sizes – 12, 14, 16, and 18.
Usually where you have oak shade trees near your trout waters, you’ll find caddis flies, which means these are flies which will almost guarantee you success – but only in locations with specific characteristics.
More than any of the previous flies on our list, that means these are not going to be the flies for everyone. But if you have those characteristics in your trout fishing spot, you’re going to love these flies, because you’re going to repeatedly catch trout with them.
Users especially recommend the Flies Direct Caddis Brown assortment if you’re either not yet skilled enough to tie your own flies with hair, or if you’ve done it for years and life feels too short to keep tying your own with that either unwieldy or tricksy material.
Why spend your time squinting as you try to tie hair flies, when a handful of dollars gets you twelve premium hair-woven caddis flies? Time is short and the trout are biting. Click on the ‘buy’ button and before you know it, they can be biting for you and your flies.
Well-made, high-quality flies at a price you can afford – go for the Flies Direct Caddis Brown assortment if your trout spot suggests they’ll work for you. If they work, they’ll work repeatedly and well, and you’ll have found your go-to trout fishing fly.
Best Flies For Trout - Buyers Guide
When you’re buying flies for trout, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
Know Where You’re At
The journey of a trout fisherman, like the journey you take in any skilled hobby, has distinct phases – from beginner, through practicing, to expert.
Different types of flies will be of most use to you at different phases of your trout fishing career – be honest with yourself and choose flies that will help you today, rather than aspiring to use expert-level flies before you’re ready.
It’ll save you money, time and lots of frustration if you choose the right flies for your stage.
Understand Your Prey
Various types of fly do different things. Attractor flies aren’t meant to represent actual insects, but will create movement and colour that the fish will want to investigate for its potential.
Other flies can represent elements of the trout’s favorite edible bugs in their various stages of development throughout the year.
You can use those different flies to catch trout in different seasons. The more you know about the fish, the more useful each of these types of fly will be to you. Put the effort in, understand the fish, and buy the flies that work best with your skills and understanding.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes for a good fly for trout?
Several things. The trout respond like most creatures to suddenness of movement and colour in their world, so initially, bright, shiny attractor flies can work to rouse their interest.
Beyond that, high-quality fly-making can get you flies that closely represent the insects on which the trout feeds throughout the course of the year.
How long should trout flies last?
Long enough to catch you a trout. Bottom line, that’s the only answer that counts. You can keep a fly for fifty years – if it never catches you a trout, it’s a waste of space in your box.
But a fly that catches you six big trout and then falls to bits when you cast is still worth the financial equivalent of those six trout.
Worry about passing your flies down to the next generation when you’re a wise and ancient trout-whisperer. Until then, get the flies that catch you trout, and don’t worry about them lasting forever.
Is ‘match-the-hatch’ a good plan for trout flies?
It’s certainly not a bad plan. If you’re new to trout fishing, using flies that match the insects in the trout’s diet at various stages of development means you can fish year round, honing the things that no fly can give you – the instincts, the quietness, the patience to catch trout.
When you’re more experienced, a match-the-hatch fly set means you don’t have to catch trout around the year, but you can catch them at any point in that year, so there are good reasons to master a match-the-hatch trout fishing strategy.
In addition, having to choose between different flies means you get used to selecting the right fly at the right moment to get the results you want.