What Are Fly Fishing Flies?

Fly Fishing In Winter Time

Fly fishing is an entirely different kettle of fish (no pun intended) when compared to traditional ‘spin fishing’.

There are many things that make it different ofcourse and essentially, these two activities appeal to entirely different people – even if the net result (no pun intended… again) is same.

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But while there are many differences, the big one of course is the fly. This is what fly fishing is named after, after all. And so as you might expect… it’s kind of a big deal!

So what exactly is a fly fishing fly? What makes it so important? And how does it fundamentally change the experience of fishing?

What is a Fly?

A fly fishing fly is essentially a lure that is designed to mimic the appearance of some kind of animal or insect that a fish might be interested in eating. The objective of course is to make your fly look like the specific prey that the fish you’re interested in catching would normally consume.

For example, many flies are designed to look pretty much like insects. These might appear to have long legs, or to have shiny scales and they will be roughly the same size and shape as many insects found in the water.

In other cases, fly fishing flies can be designed to look like feathers and bits of bird – and this is likely to be more appropriate for the larger types of game.

Double Side Waterproof Pocketed Fly Box Packed with 100 Assorted Dry Flies Fishing Package Opened

But there are other types of fly fishing flies as we’ll see in this post and the best fly fishing flies will vary depending on your objectives and even the body of water you’re fishing in. The type of fly fishing lures you use will even impact on your strategy – to the point where you might change the way you more the lure for example!

What makes fly fishing flies all the more amazing is the incredible craftsmanship that goes into their creation. These are often stunning works of art with intricate details and a very delicate structures.

Many people point out that they are essentially like ‘tiny works of art’ and the fact that they have such a real function only makes them more impressive.

These fly fishing lures are also impressively affordable and will very often only set you back a few dollars. Better yet, you can even learn how to make fly fishing lures yourself, which is an incredibly rewarding activity that involves a lot of careful work and that makes it all the more satisfying when you catch a fish!

A lot of people choose fly fishing over regular fishing because it feels like they’re that much closer to the action and that much more immersed in nature. It feels as though they are creating their own stunning traps and then using them to carefully attract specific fish.

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This is in contrast to spin fishing which is arguably ‘easier’ when it comes to attracting large numbers of fish quickly.

In short, if your objective is to quickly attract a lot of fish for dinner, then spin fishing is best. If you want to feel like Rambo, creeping along the surface of the water and waiting for your prey though; then you’re going to want to go fly fishing. And the fly fishing lures are what make all the difference…

Types of Fly Fishing Lures

Depending on your intended prey and on your personal preferences, you may opt to choose from a number of different types of fly fishing lures. Let’s take a look at some of the different options and how they impact on the experience…


The first type of fly fishing lures we’re going to look at are nymphs. These are the most versatile and common form of fly and are the kind used by the vast majority of fly fishers.

The big difference with the nymph is that it will remain under the surface of the water where it will gently float and attract trout.

Five Different Nymph Flies

Normally, nymphs will be designed in order to look like mayflys, caddis or stonefly. They will go through various developmental stages and will spend a lot of time under water along stream beds – and this is what you’re going to be simulating.

Of course having your fly fishing fly submerged can create some unique challenges – mainly, it is very hard to see them and keep track of where they are! It can also be harder to tell when you’ve gotten a bite.

For that reason, fly fishing lures like this will often come with indicators – floats that are attached and that will remain on top of the water so you know where your fly is!

Dry Fly

The dry fly, presumably so-named because it rhymes – is a type of fly that remains on top of the water and thereby mimics the behaviour of something floating. This might mean certain types of bugs – such as a pond skater for instance – or it might mean an animal such as a bird (often designed to look deceased…).

Another type of dry fly is the ‘attractor’. This is a type of fly that is designed not to look like any specific insect or animal but rather to be generally attractive for the fish below.

Four Different Dry Flies

Thus it might look like a collection of colourful feathers and straddling legs.

This works well in that it allows you to attract a wide array of different fish but the big weakness of this type of fly fishing lure is that it might not appeal to fish that have become cautious due to overfishing. They need a very concrete reason to attack!


A streamer is perhaps the most entertaining of all the fly fishing lies. This is a fly designed to move and dance around and thereby to appear like a number of different fish or animals.

Fly Fishing Streamer Fly

This can be enough to drive fish into a mad frenzy and so it’s important that you’re using a strong enough tippet and leader. What’s also important is that you keep the fly dancing, which can get rather tiring!

Not sure where to start or which is right for you? Check out our complete guide to fly fishing gear, or head over to the reviews section to find some of the very best flies on the market right now!

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