Artificial flies come in various sizes, from very tiny ones right up to the scale to large ones, and they are governed by measurements which your fishing tackle dealer knows very well. Size 8 is a large one and they come down In size as the numbers go up. Size 10 is smaller, size 12 smaller still, and so on.
Small Flies do well on bright spring or summer days; larger flies are needed in flood waters, and if you are fishing at sunset into the night you will need what the Scots term ‘the big, blacknight fleas’. Another generality is that in the north of Scotland the loch trout go for larger, bushier-dressed flies, while the small, sparse ones are more successful further south.
Dry-fly fishing calls for much more fastidious care in the selection of the fly. Indeed, most dry-fly anglers are obsessive about that. We don’t blame them. The whole technique calls for great accuracy and cunning in everything, and we often fish with a dry-fly man who actually catches flies from above the surface of the water in a little gauze net. He than examines them carefully to see the type he endeavours to match it as nearly as possible from his voluminous fly box.
Making Your Own Flies
The real culmination of the sport, however, is if you decide to make your own flies. The study of fly life, and the emulation of real insects on the water by fashioning them artificially, is now so much an enjoyable winter hobby for dry-fly trout anglers that it has almost taken over from the fishing itself! In most communities, fly-tying evening classes are offered at very moderate cost.
Categories of Flies
There are three main categories of fly. First there is the representative type, which are designed to look like one particular insect. Second, there are suggestive flies, which are designed in all colours to meet different conditions and different times. Thirdly there are attractors flies which, as the name suggests, simply attract the trout, although they are not necessarily replicas of real insects. Any guidance for the beginner about which flies he should use on a particular water can never be short or consice. There is simply no hard-and-fast rulling, because conditions on a water can change hour by hour ; the trout’s feeding habits can change even more rapidly and -to make matters even more complex – the size and type of flies which catch trout one day will catching nothing the next.
However, here are some general observations which will be helpful for a beginner:
- Examples of ‘attractor’ type flies are the Kingfisher Butcher, Peter Ross and the Worm Fly.
- Fishing rough water or in a strong wind on a lake requires larger flies – say size 8. Calm, quiet water requires smaller flies and if trout are seen feeding, then flies as small as 16 can be used.
- If the water is cold the fly should be fished deeper and slower it should also be larger than that used in warm water.
- Flies with a silver body such as the Butcher do well early in the season.
- If you are fishing wet-fly with three flies on the cast, consider using a winged fly on the tail, a spider pattern as the middle dropper and a Palmer on the top dropper.
- There are no undisputed ‘experts’ on the selection of flies for a river or a lake. Trouth often take the ‘wrong’ fly if it is presented properly. And the reverse is the case, too. The best guidance is experience and trial and error.