Fly fishing has been around for nearly two thousand years in one form or another. The earliest versions of flies are no longer in use but there are some patterns dating back a century that still feature in many fly boxes. These are the classic flies that continue to catch trout to this day.
There is a reason that these classic flies continue to be sold everywhere flies are available and carried by anglers near and far. It isn’t nostalgia. While some old patterns have gone the way of the blackfin cisco, these classic flies continue to catch fish day in and day out. That’s why people continue to tie them and fish with them.
Here is a list of classic flies that continue to catch trout. Whether or not you are familiar with them, you should seriously consider carrying them with you streamside.
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The Woolly Bugger has been around at least since the 1960’s. It is one of the most versatile flies ever created. It can be tied in a whole range of sizes, colors and varieties. You can strip it in like a streamer or dead drift it like a nymph. You can fish it on a fly line or fish it with a spinning rod. You can’t really go wrong.
The black woolly bugger is probably the most popular, but the fly works in a lot of colors including white, silver, olive and brown. It works in very large sizes for fish like northern pike and on small hooks for trout and panfish. It’s really a wonder fly.
So it’s not wonder at all that the Woolly Bugger is so popular. It might be in more fly boxes than any other fly in existence. There aren’t many people who fly fish but don’t use the woolly bugger at times.
Pheasant Tail Nymph
The Pheasant Tail Nymph originated in England but quickly migrated around the world. It is a sort of slim nymph fly that mimics all sorts of aquatic insects. It looks a lot like a variety of mayfly nymphs that are common food for trout and it catches fish consistently.
There are different variations of the Pheasant Tail Nymph but the original pattern is still one of the best. The Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph and others catch a lot of fish too, but the plain old Pheasant Tail probably looks the most like a real nymph which explains why it hasn’t disappeared despite the other innovations.
The Prince Nymph is nearly a hundred years old. The original pattern was innovated in the 1930’s but the version fished today isn’t much different. While the Prince Nymph doesn’t necessarily look like anything in the water, it is irresistible to trout.
The modern versions of the Prince Nymph are most often tied with lead on the body and a bead head. This helps get the fly down deep where it is known to dredge up a lot of fish. This fly is great in sizes ranging from 10 all the way down to 18.
The Royal Coachman is a truly classic fly pattern. The fly dates back to the late 19th century and is perhaps the best known fly fishing pattern in the world today. Even some people who don’t fish at all are familiar with the Royal Coachman.
The Royal Coachman has been tied in a number of variations that include wet flies and even streamer patterns, but it is the Royal Coachman dry fly that has truly stood the test of time. The Royal Coachman is one of the best attractor or “searching” patterns available to this day. You can cast one out and catch fish even when you have no idea what the fish are eating. It looks like everything and nothing at the same time.
The more modern Royal Wulff is a similar fly that floats higher and longer. It is probably capable of catching just as many fish in comparable conditions. Still the original Royal Coachman has an elegance and effectiveness that just can’t be ignored.