A Thousand Fishing Flies... Or, So

by : Trinity Anderson

A fly is a lure made to resemble an insect or other fish food. The idea behind the design is simple and true: make a lure that looks like the natural prey of some fish and they'll come racing onto the hook. Since at least the mid-17th century and probably for hundreds of years before, that idea has been tested over and over again.

It works pretty well.

The creativity of fishermen and their friends who make flies for fun and profit is astounding, not least to the anglers themselves. Flies are often as much works of art as practical devices. But practical they are. Whether made to look like a mayfly, a tiny prawn or even a small rodent, a great fly is a wonder.

There is the humble Dry Fly. Designed to float on the surface, it may appear to a curious fish to be a dragonfly resting on a pond. Or, it may look like any of a thousand insects that rest on the water before moving on. The real thing often doesn't get the chance to leave.

An Orange Stimulator, for example, may look like a grasshopper who jumped a little too far. The hope is that the 'insect' will prove too tempting to resist. That hope is often satisfied. Flies like this are used more often for freshwater fishing, such as a favorite lake where the waters are calm.

A Wet Fly, by contrast, is designed to sink just below the surface where they might resemble an insect who is about to see a watery grave. The angler intends the fish to see a dry grave right afterward.

The Nymph, for example, is engineered to look like the developing insect who has not yet sprouted his wings. In its larval form the real thing may often float through the water or crawl along underwater rocks. At that stage they are irresistible to a hungry trout. Or so the eager angler wants to believe. Hope springs eternal in the sport of fishing.

Terrestrial flies are lovingly shaped to imitate non-aquatic insects or worms. Even prey that doesn't seek to live on or under the water may live near it. Unluckily for them they often find themselves in unexpected locations where the fish are happy to see them.

Another type called Streamers are made to look like baitfish. They may be used in freshwater or saltwater situations and they are as diverse as any other category of fly. A Clouser that resembles a minnow is a favorite of many, but a Sucking Leech has its fans, too.

Not all flies look like animals, however. Some are made to resemble plant food that some fish also enjoy, such as berries, seeds or flowers. Petals and fruit that grow near the water often drop into it where the fish are very grateful. Carp flies are a common variety in this category.

No angler can long resist the urge to make his or her own fly. Sooner or later that latent creativity bursts forth in the desire to up the odds of landing that perfect lake trout. Let your inner artist out and enjoy fishing that much more. Even if you don't catch anything you'll have at least one thing to brag about.