C: Fly Fishing for Trout: February 2007 Archives

Top 20 Trout Flies

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Basic Fly Patterns and Presentation


I always drop by a fly shop if I am away from my home waters. The price of bugs is generally the same, but the information is invaluable. Shop owners frequently buy regional and specialty flies from their guides.

Keep in mind that each day shop outfitters send out their guides with the simple goal of getting their clients into fish, and everyday information is traded back and forth on what works, where it works and when it works. Shop owners and clerks readily pass on this information to first-time customers for half a dozen flies or less! Naturally, every shop has their killer flies that they use to expand the sale, but I don't believe that I have ever been duped. Fly shops have short seasons. In order to survive, they depend on customer loyalty, which in turn depends on their credibility. Regarding published hatch charts, take them with a grain of salt. Although I personally admire the dedication and perseverance that it takes to compile a hatch chart, the vagaries of Mother Nature generally render them in the category of "You should have been here last week." The best source of information will be from the local fly shops. Regardless of where you buy your flies, stay out of the bargain basement. Not all flies are tied equally.


For years I would shake my head in puzzlement when a client would open up his fly box and pull out a cheap and poorly tied fly. Rather than upset a client's out-of-state purchasing acumen for Montana trout flies, I would just resort to some swaps if I knew I was dealing with a tightfisted bargain hunter. Look for stiff neck hackles that will keep the fly high and dry. The next simple test is to look at the body to see if it is slender and proportionate. Finally, a good dry fly should have a three-point landing. When the fly is resting in the palm of your hand, the hackle and the tail should be aligned so that the bottom of the hook is barely resting on your palm. If the tail is too short, the fly will not land as well, nor will it offer the same profile to trout.

It is the fly that triggers the strike. The one topic guaranteed to generate instant conversation among fly anglers is the mention of fly patterns. No other facet of fly fishing evokes so much enthusiasm and reverence. Through the years many surveys have asked prominent fly fishers to share their favorite fly patterns. Lefty Kreh, in an article in Field and Stream, published February 1972, polled 12 expert fly fishers. The following list of dry flies, nymph flies and streamer flies represents a composite of the most frequently used flies for each category among these 12 experts.

* Dry Flies: Light Cahill, Adams, Royal Wulff, Irresistible, Quill Gordon, Humpy
* Nymphs: Trueblood Otter Shrimp, Quill Gordon, Ed Burk, Yellow Stone Fly, Muskrat, Woolly Worm
* Streamers: Black Nose Dace, Spruce Fly, Muddler Minnow, Gray Ghost, Black Marabou, White Marabou

Dan Abrams, in a similar type survey published in Sports Afield, October 1975, polled 30 notable fly fishers regarding their top four fly patterns. Seven of the 30 were prominent Rocky Mountain fly fishers. A generalized list of the most popular patterns produced the following: Adams, Royal Wulff, Humpy, Muddler Minnow and Gold-ribbed Hare's Ear Nymph. Add the Woolly Bugger and a Light Cahill in varying sizes and I would be content for quite some time. Well, of course, I would need to add a hopper pattern and a PMD and maybe a....

One of the great joys of fly fishing is sharing what works. If you are a beginner and meet a friendly fly fisher, pull out your fly box and ask, "Which one should I use?" I fondly recall many occasions when someone took me under their guidance and shared their secret fly for the day. Through the years my own collection of fly patterns grew in direct proportion to my fly fishing budget. Like most of the fly fishers I know, I can never have enough patterns. I have a number of match-the-hatch patterns for those special days, and I have my reliable stand-by attractor patterns and generic patterns that I started out with 40 years ago.

I have prioritized the following recommendations for the young beginner who has an empty fly box and a thin wallet. If you would like to begin tying your own flies, I highly recommend Jack Dennis's manual, Western Trout Fly Tying Manual. For a more in-depth approach to matching hatches, I recommend The Complete Book of Western Hatches by Rick Hafele and Dave Hughs.

For those of you who are new to the sport of fly fishing and have never fished in Montana, I offer 20 patterns that will cover about 90% of the fishing from Glacier to Yellowstone. Be observant of what the trout are feeding on and use a small aquarium net to scoop up the bugs and look at them closely. Purchase a fly box with a foam backing and sort your dry mayfly patterns by color and size. For example, I start out with light, cream-colored Cahills and pro-gressively move across in increasingly darker shades to pale yellow, bright yellow, yellow-green, green, olive green and into the green-browns and finally mahogany and rust colors. I set up a separate row of gray and tan mayfly patterns. Personally, I am less concerned with Latin identification as I am with finding the right sized imitation in as close to the natural color as possible. Organizing my fly box in this manner helps me to locate a pattern quickly. It also reminds me what colors I am missing or what sizes I am missing. The following 20 patterns are the ones that "I never leave home without."
Dry Fly Patterns

Royal Wulff: Sizes 10-16

The Royal Wulff is the definitive attractor pattern. Created by the famed Lee Wulff, it imitates nothing, and yet it of-fers to the trout an equivalent of an exquisite Julia Child masterpiece. Derisively called the "Dude Fly" because of its white calf-tail wing, this extravaganza brings the fish up! Best of all, it is a fly the caster never fails to see. To digress for the beginner, keep in mind that you have to set the hook, as the trout will spit the fly out on its dive back into the water. Most beginners miss the take because by the time they react, the fish is safely on its way. Wear Polaroid sunglasses so that you can begin to train your eyes for underwater movement. Early detection allows you to react more quickly. I know a Bitterroot River guide who would float down the Bitterroot River in the dog days of August using a Royal Wulff and sometimes with a dropper!
Presentation: Classic, upstream dead drift.

Humpy (Goofus Bug): Sizes 10-16


The Humpy's origin, according to Jack Dennis, is shrouded in controversy. Whether the fly originated in Jackson, Wyoming, or elsewhere is really unimportant. What is important to the beginner is that this fly works, and it is an indispensable pattern to have in your fly box. Although it is an attractor pattern, it may imitate a large caddis or stonefly in larger sizes. The fly is ideal for fast-flowing waters because of its inherent buoyancy. The Royal Humpy is especially easy to track in fast water. When sparsely tied, the Humpy works amazingly well on slow waters and can be used to imitate a Little Yellow Stonefly. The great advantage of this fly for the beginner is that it is almost unsinkable, and it offers great visibility in fast water for both the fisherman and the trout. It is, however, a most challenging pattern to tie. The best directions for tying this pattern may be found in The Second Fly-Tyers Almanac by Robert H. Boyle and Dave Whitlock.

Presentation: Classic, upstream dead drift. However, since this pattern closely resembles a caddis fly and floats so well, try drifting the fly downstream under willows or overhanging branches. As the fly drifts to the targeted area, lift the rod tip up to create an erratic skipping motion on top of the water, and then lower the rod tip quickly to allow the fly to drift once again on top of the water. Await the strike!


It would appear that the Renegade attractor pattern has faded in popularity over the last 20 years, but it is a great fly for late evening fishing, as the white hackle in the front helps to see the fly on darkened waters. The second advantage is that the dual hackle design keeps the fly afloat when it is difficult to see after sundown. If you are new to the sport of fly fishing, be sure you have a good supply and a range of sizes for the Royal Wulff, the Humpy, the Renegade, the Adams and the Elk Hair Caddis.

Adams/Parachute Adams: Sizes 12-22

The ubiquitous Adams is probably the most widely used dry fly pattern on the North American continent. It imitates any number of gray mayflies. I highly recommend acquiring as many Adams in various sizes as possible. Because of the difficult visibility with this pattern, I have switched over exclusively to Parachute Adams for sizes 16-22. Although this is a generic type pattern, a size 20 Parachute Adams performs quite well during a Trico or Baetis hatch on slow moving water with a nine-foot leader and 6X tippet.

The Trico spinner imitation has a small black body with divided white poly wings in the spinner position. During the heat of summer, get out on a Rocky Mountain river between 7 and 9 am (varies) for the Tricorithodes or Trico hatch followed by the spinner fall.
Although one of the smallest of mayfly species, nonetheless, this is a staple for feeding trout primarily because of the preponderant numbers during the spinner fall. Generally found in slower waters, the trout settle into a sipping, rhythmic rise form. Do not be deceived by the small rings and the dark noses - big fish! Fish in the morning during those dog days of August. I'm sure you will be delighted with the experience regardless of how many fish break off and get away. Because I have trouble seeing a small Trico, I often add on a small Trico as a trailer behind a small Parachute Adams.

Presentation: Classic, upstream dead drift.

Gray Drakes (Heptagenia and Siphlonurus) typically hatch throughout the summer starting in early June. Sizes 10-18.

Tricorythodes typically hatch late in the summer, usu-ally at the beginning of August. Sizes 20-26.

Light Cahill or Light Variant: Sizes 12-18

A light cream color Heptagenia mayfly imitation is another must have pattern. The Light Cahill pattern may also be used on slower waters and lakes to imitate Callibaetis. The Callibaetis dun body is olive-brown, however, so you may want to darken a few of your Light Cahills with a magic marker.

The Light Cahill can be used to imitate Ephemerella or Heptagenia mayflies, but be sure to closely inspect the size and color of the insect, and then match it with your color coded fly selection.

PMD - Pale Morning Dun

Pale Morning Duns are probably the most prolific and reli-able hatch from Glacier to Yellowstone. These Ephemerella drake patterns should be part of your must-have patterns in sizes 16-22. PMDs hatch from June through October. Lighter in color from their cousins the Green Drakes, their bodies range from olive green to pale yellow and tan. The wings are generally slate gray to yellow. PMD cripples should be part of your collection. Nymph patterns such as the Zug Bug, Gray Nymph and the Hare's Ear generally work well. The darker green patterns will work well during a Baetis hatch as well.

The famous Green Drake hatches (Ephemerella grandis) are typically from mid-June through mid-July. If you are in an area with a Green Drake hatch, be sure to stock up on a number of these drake patterns at the nearest fly shop. The hatch is generally not heavy, but if they are out, the trout are looking for them. Reports from guides returning to the shop will determine if you should buy traditional drake patterns or Compara Duns or Green Para-drakes. All of the above patterns range in color from pale yellow to green to olive brown. Stock up.

Elk Hair Caddis: Sizes 10-18


Unlike the graceful rise and gliding fall of the mayfly, a cad-dis hatch looks like a burst of kindergartners swarming over a playground. An accompanying soundtrack for a mayfly would be a Viennese waltz. Conversely, the caddis dance would be a rap soundtrack by Snoop Dogg. Generally, the caddis will hatch in the evening. The most popular body colors are brown, olive, green, gray and tan.

Caddis flies are not easily missed, and in the pupa and winged stages they are an important part of the trout's diet. Look for them in the quiet pocket water under willow branches or overhangs, especially in the evening. You may also want to select a few patterns for the emergent phase such as a sparkle pupa. For larger caddis imitations use a Humpy or an X-Caddis. Use a Goddard Caddis for fast, heavy water.

One of the guides I worked with collected the caddis cases and tied them on a Mustad hook with a peacock thorax. He fished them on a dead drift on the Big Hole River, and I was impressed! Beginning with the Grannom Caddis hatch in May, caddis emerge throughout the summer and fall. The most consistently popular pattern is the Elk Hair Caddis.

Presentation: Classic, upstream dead drift or erratic ac-tion produced by rod tip action.

Blue-Wing Olive: Sizes 16-22

The Baetis (Blue-Wing Olive) is an important pattern in Montana, as Baetis hatch from May through October. They are generally smaller than a PMD. The body color for a Baetis pattern is olive brown with gray wings and light gray hackle. It is not uncommon for trout to be sipping the smaller Baetis during a hatch of PMDs.

Salmon Fly

Montana's favorite hatch calls for big bugs that hold up under heavy water conditions. They need to stay high and dry. The Salmon Fly pattern is constantly being reinvented and im-proved. During a Salmon Fly hatch, local shops have these flies displayed in tubs and buckets. The Salmon Fly hatch generally emerges late May and is essentially over by mid July. Water temperatures need to be in the low 50s.


The Stimulator represents a pattern for stone-flies in orange and yellow. When the trout quit hitting the big Salmon Fly patterns, especially on Rock Creek, they tend to strike at smaller stimulators long after the Salmon Fly hatch is over. The Stimulator is best used during a Golden Stonefly hatch.

Streamers and Wet Flies
Muddler Minnow:
Sizes 4-8


Popularized by Dan Bailey for the Yellowstone River, the Muddler Minnow should always be in your fly box. I have met fly fishers who fish al-most exclusively with Muddler Minnow patterns. Along with its offshoot, the Marabou Muddler, this pattern has probably taken more large fish than any other fly. The Muddler may also be greased up and used as an effective hopper pattern, and I have used it both dry and wet on the same cast with interesting results.

Presentation: Fish the Muddler slightly upstream or down-stream in a quartering action. Retrieve the Muddler by simultaneously pumping the rod tip and stripping in the line in quick, little jerks which imitates the darting action of a sculpin minnow. Allow for pauses, and add weight if necessary.

Woolly Bugger: Sizes 4-8


This pattern is a must for late spring and early summer when the water is high and off-color and the hatches are sporadic. If you are fishing from shore, make short casts around all the rocks and boulders. Be sure the fly is actually sinking to the bottom. Add lead to your leader if necessary. Use a short 2X or 3X leader. Make short casts and keep the rod tip high so that you keep the Bugger bouncing along the bottom. Lift the rod tip when you feel a bump. Do not assume it is just a rock. If it is, lower the rod tip and let the bugger sink again.

Yuk Bug and Girdle Bug: Sizes 6-12


I love this bug! I have caught so many beautiful fish during early summer when the water is still high but clear. I float along until I find a logjam or flooded backwater eddy. I usually select a size 10 Yuk Bug. The Yuk Bug has a dark body wrapped with grizzly hackle. Protruding from the body are white rubber legs. I find I generally have to cut back on the length of the rubber legs. I want them to pulse, and I want them to flare at the sides rather than collapsing backwards. I do not use weight. I fish it like a dry fly, allowing it to gradually sink. Most important, I cast from a kneeling position. I am always amazed at how adept large trout are at hiding. As the Yuk Bug sinks into quiet water, the trout will slowly emerge from its hiding spot. I have had large trout appear from under a small tree trunk in shallow water. They never rush to the Yuk. They take their time. It also works well in creeks and small streams. I love this bug!

Hare's Ear Nymph:
Sizes 12-16

In my opinion, this is the best of the small nymph patterns for spring creeks, beaver ponds and slow, flat stretches of river. When I fish high-elevation lakes, I always bring along the Hare's Ear Nymph and a Zug Bug in smaller sizes. They work wonders. If you have someone along who is not an accomplished fly caster, use a plastic water-filled bubble with as long of a leader as possible. Attach a Hare's Ear or Zug Bug and cast out as far as possible and retrieve with a spinning reel. If the fish are rising to the surface, be sure to cast way over them, as the splashdown from the water-filled bubble will spook the fish in the near vicinity.

Bead-head Prince Nymph

This is perhaps the most popular nymph in the region! If you don't have any, head to the nearest fly shop. They work great as a dropper off a hopper pattern during the heat of August.

Pheasant Tail

The Pheasant Tail Nymph is an excellent soft hackle nymph for slow water. The key to this fly is a slender silhouette and a sparely-tied hackle.

(Joe's, Dave's, Jay's, Dan's): Sizes 6-12


As you can see from the partial list of Hopper contributors, grasshopper imitations are recorded in the "Who's Who of Terrestrials". Rarely, however, will you find such citations on the bins in a fly shop. For beginners I recommend a clipped deer-hair collar. This feature adds stability and superior floatation. Although the grasshopper is meant to have a low silhouette, without the deer hair the buoyancy is drastically reduced and the caster generally struggles with a sinking pattern.

Presentation: The best source of information on hoppers can be found in the September 1985 issue of Fly Fisherman. In this issue Dave Whitlock, in his article "Hoppertunity", discusses hopper behavior, pattern characteristics and Hoppertunity Techniques. Here are a few of his suggestions: Being a terrestrial insect, the grasshopper is on unfamiliar "ground" when he gets blown on the water. No gentle landings here. Make a splash with your hopper. Strip the hopper in with intermittent twitches from rod-tip action. Use a heavy tippet, and use a twist piece of lead to sink the hopper in those promising pools. Cast close to undercut banks and overhangs where trout hide during low water periods. Fish during the heat of the day. Carefully pick your targeted area. Although a smashing hopper on top of the water will trigger a strike, it also quite often spooks fish in the outlying area. Keep moving and practice stealth.

Beetle Patterns

The deer hair patterns dyed black work wonders. Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes in their outstanding book, The Complete Book of Western Hatches, point out that the Woolly Worm is also a good pattern to imitate a water beetle in still or slow moving water.

Although ant patterns are difficult to see in small sizes, ants are a staple diet for trout during the summer.

Bead-Head San Juan Worm


I have always had a certain amount of disdain for the San Juan Worm, but I have a growing appreciation for this pattern during the spring and again late in the fall. I favor the bead-head version with the bead in the center.

Well, there you have it - the 20 patterns that I would never leave home without!

If you actually got this far, and you are a beginning fly fisher, be sure to check out "Mastering the Basics of Fly Fishing" by following the link from this site to my Montana site, www.glaciertoyellowstone.com.

Creeks Are not Just for Kids!

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In all my years of guiding in Montana, I rarely was able to talk a beginning fly fisher to forego floating a famous Montana river and head for the canyon creeks. It's a pity because one day of instruction on a creek is equal to three or four days on a river. "Mend your line," shouts the guide. "You missed the target. You have to be within six inches of the shoreline, says the guide enthusiatically. "You're casting at the wrong angle. Stay in front of the boat," responds the guide. "Your fly has sunk, and you have line drag," mutters the guide. None of this will happen when you fish a creek.

Instead your guide will be laughing with delight when you miss or land a 7 to 9-inch cutthroat next to every rock and in every pocket. After all, there is basically only three guiding principals to remember.
1. Keep your rod tip high with little or no line on the water.
2. Allow the fly to float with the natural speed of the current. Better yet, let the fly stall.
3. Anticipate the strike and set the hook.
Click on this Montana fly fishing link for a great creek fishing article with lots of photographs. The young model is my son Brandon Archer who returned with me to one of our favorite Bitterroot Creeks.

Fly Fishing Basics: Pretest

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Mastering the Basics of Fly Fishing


Mastering the Basics of Fly Fishing was originally an outline that I followed when I taught classes on fly fishing. Working for an outfitter and fly shop owner in Hamilton, Montana, I taught a number of parent/child introductory classes. Later when I set up my Montana Fly Fishing site in the early 90's, I expanded this article for adults who wanted to learn on their own, as well as parents wanting to teach their children the skills of fly fishing. It continues to be one of the most visited sections on my Montana site. The instructional program is broken down into the following steps:

Introduction | Pre and Post Test
Step 1:Selecting Fly Rod and Reel
Step 2: Terminal equipment and Paraphernalia
Step 3: Necessary Knots and Leaders
Step 4: Casting
Step 5: Basic Fly Patterns and Presentation
Step 6: Mastering the Basics of Creek Fishing
Step 7: Mastering the Basics of Stillwater Fly Fishing


Introduction and Pre / Post Test for Mastering the Basics of Fly Fishing

In thirty-two years of being a high school English teacher and fifteen years of being a fly fishing instructor and guide, I have learned a great deal about teaching and learning. Too often, I must confess, I departed from good instructional techniques with predictable results-- a loss of interest or frustration on the part of the learner. Through the years I have watched ardent fly fishermen attempt fly fishing "conversions" with family members and friends --often with the same predictable results.

Attempting to share one's boundless enthusiasm with a spouse or child evokes a host of clich├ęs. Suffice to say there are minefields in all of our backyards that the skilled instructor must carefully clear away. Many families have stories about spouses stepping into the instructor or learner role with disastrous results. Sadly, the same may be said of parents attempting to teach fly fishing to their children.

Too often we expect our enthusiasm as instructor to motivate the learner or novice, and the ensuing frustration on the learner's part or the instructor's part creates tension, which sometimes leads to conflict or withdrawal. To avoid this quagmire, don't loose sight of the most important ingredients for success: fun and rewards.

Ideally, an instructor should be a skilled communicator, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, patient, constantly supportive and realistic in his or her expectations for the learner. Hopefully, the learner has not been "overly coerced", is genuinely eager, has good listening skills and is blessed with superior fine motor skills. If you or your learner lacks any of the above attributes, as most of us surly do, then I hope this manual will help both of you through a sequential skills program. The guiding principle for this manual is the basic philosophy that success needs to be recognized and rewarded, realistic goals need to be established, and instruction should be given in small increments. At all times the instructor and learner need to concentrate on having fun! With each skill lesson, determine how you can make the lesson fun. If you are working with a youngster, how will you reward him or her for mastering a particular level? I started out with flies and gadgets.

Each section provides basic information which should be learned before moving on to the next level of instruction. At the beginning of each skill lesson, a survey will test existing knowledge or skill acquisition. Additionally, practical advice may be offered to the instructor if the learner is a child. Tests are essentially used to review. Avoid using the tests to rate success. Use the test to reinforce and review. Success should be measured on the basis of whether or not you are having fun and enjoying each other's company.

Regarding the age to start children fly fishing, I would offer this advice. First teach them the joy of outdoor recreation. Introduce them to pond fishing for sun fish where they are sure to have success with a nymph and strike indicator. At about fourth grade, when their fine motor skills are sufficiently developed, begin instruction with the clear understanding that the goal is self-sufficiency. Start the program during the winter so that when the first family trout trek arrives, the instructor isn't impatiently giving the learner a crash course. Take them to a small creek. And speaking of small creeks, I would recommend buying the primer, The Curtis Creek Manifesto written and illustrated by Sheridan Anderson. This wonderful angling comic book is published by Frank Amato Publications in Portland, Oregon.

Having got "skunked" his first time out, my ten year old son turned to me and said, "Dad, I like casting to the hula hoops better, especially with all the prizes." It was a chilly May opener and a bungled first experience with a fly rod for a youngster. Later that summer Darin and my seven year old son, Brandon, caught a number of five inch Brook trout on a tiny creek high above Montana's famous Big Hole. Through the years I have seen many fathers completely turn off their children to fly fishing. My two boys were delighted with their catch, but they really didn't want to catch any more than a couple of fish. We had only been gone from camp twenty minutes. Fortunately, I was smart enough to reel in their lines and join them in their search for water snakes. We now share a common bond, a fellowship as fly fishers.

Pre and Post Test

If you are a novice, use these questions to determine areas that you will need to spend the most time. If you are teaching a child, be somewhat selective based on their age and how much they have been exposed to fly fishing.

Step 1: Identification of Equipment

1. If someone gave you just a rod, how would you determine what weight fly line to use with it?

2. What is the most versatile weight fly line for trout fishing?

3. True / False: Rod bend or flex is subjective and based on how slow or fast one's preference is in casting.

4. Although seldom used on small streams, the drag adjustment on a single action reel is valuable under what conditions?

5. Briefly discuss the advantage of a double tapered fly line and a weight forward line.

6. What is a leader butt used for? On a piece of paper, draw a leader butt and identify each of the knots used.

7. What is a tippet?

8. What is fly dressing?

9. What use does a fly fisher have of hemostats?

10. Which is the most common leader length?
3-5 ft
4-6 ft
7-9 ft
12-14 ft

11. What is the advantage of using Polaroid sun glasses?

12. If you are fishing with a floating fly line, and then you decide to tie on a nymph and fish the sub-surface or the bottom of the stream, what techniques can you employ without changing your fly line?

13. What two knots do you have to choose from to tie at the end of a leader butt?

14. Why would your dentist highly recommend that you carry fingernail clippers with you when you go fishing?

15. Look over the following knots to determine which of the six you will need to learn.


Step 2: Basic Set Up

1. Name the four critical specifications found on all AFTMA fly lines.

2. Rods are designed to cast a particular weighted fly line. The lines are numbered 1 - 12. Which line(s) would be most practical for the majority of your fishing waters? Briefly explain your reasons.

3. Why is it both practical and potentially useful to first add braided backing to your reel?

Step 3: Necessary Knots (Name each of the knots pictured.)



Step 4: Casting

Place a large plate, a hoola-hoop or a pizza box out on the lawn at a distance of 20 feet. Cast your fly so it lands within a foot with three attempts. (Be sure to remove the hook portion of the fly. You may also just tie on a little piece of yarn.) Cast your fly at a plate at thirty feet so that it lands within two feet of the plate with three attempts. Now you have a baseline to measure how much you will have improved after you start the casting program.

Multiple Choice and True/False Questions:

1. A fly fishing rod, reel and line is said to be balanced when:
A. The line weight matches the recommended rod weight
B. The outfit is color coordinated
C. You can balance or hold the rod level on an extended finger with the balance point usually close to where the grip stops and the rod begins.

2. T/F The forward cast is more important than the back cast for distance and presentation.

3. Generally, when casting, the caster wants:
A. An open loop
B. A swing loop
C. A tight loop
D. No loop


4. When a caster does not let the line land on the water and continues casting overhead, forward and backward, he or she is said to be:
A. Shadow darting
B. False casting
C. Air line
D. Wasting time

5. What are three useful reasons for the answer to question 4?

6. Viewing the caster from behind, which is the better cast and why?


7. Line drag spooks the fish and frustrates the caster when the faster current pushes the belly or mid-section of the line downstream. This causes an unnatural drag or acceleration of the fly. This constant factor is the fly fisher's greatest challenge to over come. Trout are creatures of habit, and they are conditioned by their environment. Viewing an artificial fly pattern zoom by their lie will not trigger a strike, as it is an unnatural phenomenon; therefore, the fly fisher has to cast in such a manner so as to drift the fly in a natural float. Describe two types of casts or casting technique that may be used to counter this problem of line drag?

8. Which is more important in casting, distance or presentation?

9. A steeple cast or a roll cast is most useful under what conditions?

10. The basic power stroke or casting arc can be illustrated on the following clock. Draw two lines connecting the large dot with the smaller dot or number which will demonstrate where the rod stops on the back cast and forward cast.


11. Which lettered illustration depicts the proper pick up of line off the water prior to starting into your back cast? A, B or C?


12. Which is the best loop for casting?

13. What is a "wind knot" and how is it caused?

14. You find your fly splashing on the water behind you or catching on the grass. What two corrections should you make?

15. What forward casting adjustment could you make if you see your fly smashing onto the water with a splat?

16. If on your forward cast, your fly line and leader drift back towards you dropping into an unsightly pile, what forward cast adjustment do you need to make?

17. If you snap your fly off in mid air on a "crack-the-whip" cast, what forward cast adjustment do you need to make?

18. If on your forward cast, your line hits another part of the line or the rod during the cast, you will want to make an adjustment by _____________ your rod.

19. Most fish are caught on casts of __________
A. 5-10 feet
B. 20-40 feet
C. 40-50 feet
D. 50-70 feet

20. How would you compensate for the wind while casting?


21. Identify the fish in the picture above.


22. Identify the fish in the picture above.


23. Identify the fish in the picture above.


24. Identify the fish in the picture above.

Step 5: Basic Fly Patterns: Identify the following popular fly patterns. See Step 5 for 20 Recommended Fly Patterns.









The L.L. Bean Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing by Macauley Lord, Dick Talleur and Dave Whitlock

If I had a nickel for every how-to-fly fishing book that has been published during the last 20 years, I'd be fishing around the world in some pretty exotic places. My article "Mastering the Basics of Fly Fishing" was begun hastily years ago when I was preparing an outline for an introductory course for fathers and sons. Recently I was perusing the shelves for a primer to double check that I hadn't left anything out of my article. The Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing may be an overstatement; nonetheless it is a wonderful primer for the novice or beginner. The book is divided into three sections: Fly Fishing, Fly Casting, and Fly Tying. The photographs and diagrams are exceptional, and I couldn't resist adding another fly fishing book to my collection.

Go to Step 1: Identification and Function of Equipment