Choosing the right flies for trout fishing can make all the difference. From nymphs to streamers, here are some of the top trout flies to use for lakes.
Here are the top 15 Best Trout Flies for Fly Fishing In Lakes
- Hare's Ear
- Copper John
- Glo Bug
- Holy Grail
- Parachute Adams
- Last Chance Cripple
- Trico Dun
- Hot Wing Caddis
- Graphic Caddis
- Goddard Caddis
- Muddler Minnows
- Muddy Buddy
- Bunny Leech
- Butt Monkey
- Grizzly Zonker
Nymph Flies for Trout Fly Fishing in Lakes
1. Hare's Ear
Arguably one of the most popular nymph flies available is the legendary Hare's Ear. Thanks to its popularity, you'll find it in many different variations to help it suit the conditions that you'll be fishing in. Traditionally, a Hare's Ear is made to represent a mayfly, but it can actually be mistaken for many insects that a trout feeds on. This is why they're an effective choice when fly fishing for trout in lakes around the world.
Hare's Ear flies should be a staple in your fishing flies assortment. Since they're so common, it's a good idea to look at the different varieties of Hare's Ear that are available. Some of them are weighted, so you don't need to add weights to your line or the leader, and it's a good idea to have a variety of different colors in your fly box. It's a staple that everyone should carry with them on a day of trout fishing in lakes.
2. Copper John
The Copper John is an essential nymph fly if you plan to go trout fishing in deeper waters. The wire on this fly allows it to sink at a much faster rate, allowing the nymph to settle on the bottom of the water to attract trout swimming past. This is important for deeper waters as it will enable your fly to reach its intended depth much more quickly. This means there's less chance of the trout catching on to your lure and getting spooked by it.
This is an essential lure if you're unsure about the water's depth that you'll be fishing in. Much like the Hare's Ear, you'll find a number of different patterns and varieties for the Copper John. It's never a bad idea to include a couple of different types to ensure you have everything covered.
If your wondering how long your leader should be for different fly patterns check out this article on "How Long Should A Leader Be"
3. Glo Bug
Glo bugs are incredibly popular for both salmon and trout. It's designed to imitate eggs and is best used when attempting to drift along the lake's bottom to imitate an egg that has broken loose. There are many different types of glo bug flies, but the most popular ones usually feature a red dot in the middle. This triggers fish to strike a lot more frequently than other patterns, but it's never a bad idea to carry a couple of them with you on a fishing trip.
People tend to have varying amounts of success when it comes to using glo bug flies. They're most popular when used between August and October, but they can also see success during the spring months too. Success rates for Glo bug flies will heavily depend on the fishing conditions, so it's an excellent nymph fly to keep in your box for specific situations.
4. Holy Grail
The Holy Grail is a caddis imitator that works great in rivers and still lakes. The Holy Grail is unique in that it's often paired with different dry flies and emergers to make it more effective. A two-fly rig isn't uncommon, especially if you're interested in attracting trout. You can imitate a number of different insects if you're smart about pairings.
We suggest having a couple of Holy Grail flies in your box. Ideally, you'll want to have a few different patterns and colors for more choice. With the right approach, you can imitate everything from an emerging caddis to a midge.
Dry Flies and Emerger Flies for Trout Fly Fishing in Lakes
5. Parachute Adams
The Parachute Adams is a surprisingly versatile attractor fly. This means that it's not made to imitate a specific insect or creature, but more contain various flies and insects to attract trout. It can replicate many different bugs, but it's best used when there is no hatch present. This helps to attract trout regardless of the current conditions in the water. When trout look up at the surface of the water, a Parachute Adams looks irresistible since it resembles so many different things. Trout are predatory creatures that will usually go for weak or struggling prey, and the Parachute Adams perfectly imitate this.
This fly comes in several different patterns, so we highly suggest including it in your trout fishing fly box. It's a fantastic option for when trout get a little more lively and start heading further up the surface to catch emergers.
6. Last Chance Cripple
The Last Chance Cripple is a mayfly imitator that resembles a partially-emerged nymph. It's a pattern created by Rene Harrop for spring creek fishing situations, but it's a reasonably popular fly that has seen a lot of success in other areas as well.
It's a reasonably buoyant fly that provides excellent flotation and makes it simple to spot even when the waters get a little more lively. They're available in many different sizes and are a perfect choice when heading out to a lake to fly fish for trout. It also makes an excellent fly for low-light conditions. You'll also find them in many different colors, making it a great addition to any versatile fly box. If you've tried a number of other dry flies and emergers that have seen limited success, then we highly recommend giving the Last Chance Cripple fly a try. It tends to work great on selective trout and is a relatively easy fly to get accustomed to.
7. Trico Dun
The Trico Dun mimics a hatching mayfly and is excellent for catching trout in lakes. Trico mayflies are unique because they hatch in extraordinary numbers between July and October. This makes the Trico Dun an effective fly during this season, but it's not without a catch. Because there are so many tricos hatching, trout are spoilt for choice when it comes to feeding, which causes them to be incredibly selective. It can be daunting for beginners to fish during a Trico hatching season because they'll see plenty of fish out in the waters, but nothing seems to want to bite.
If you're having trouble using a Trico Dun during this period, you may want to consider heading out during the early morning when female tricos are just starting to hatch. This gives you plenty of opportunities to catch a lot of trout. However, as the day progresses and male duns appear, you'll practically have to cast within inches of a trout to get any attention. This fly can be both a blessing and a curse, so it's essential to know the lake's condition before attempting to use it.
8. Hot Wing Caddis
The Hot Wing Caddis is an improvement on the famous Elk Hair Caddis fly. The main difference is that Hot Wing Caddisflies are a lot more visible thanks to the yarn's color. True to its name, it's essentially just an Elk Hair Caddis with a new coat of paint. This is a modern twist that can be tricky to use, but you'll at least have no trouble spotting your fly, thanks to its high visibility. But it's not just visible to you as the angler–it's also visible to all of the trout in the water. This is what attracts many trout to the Hot Wing Caddis and ultimately why it's such a great fly for both beginners and experts alike.
We highly recommend including the Hot Wing Caddis (and the older Elk Hair Caddis) in your fly box if you're heading out to a lake for fly fishing. This is a great fly to use as part of your lineup. If you suddenly stop getting strikes with other nymphs, dry flies, and emergers, you can throw a curveball with the Hot Wing Caddis to surprise the trout and net yourself a catch.
9. Graphic Caddis
The Graphic Caddis is a beautiful pattern developed by John Barr that is made to imitate the emerging caddis pupae as it swims from the bottom of the river to the surface. This fly has a special holographic flashabou at the back to imitate the air bubble carried by caddis pupae. It's often used as an attractor and combined with other flies to make for an effective trout-catching combination.
The graphic caddis is an excellent addition to any fly box and is highly recommended. It's never a bad idea to have a selection of different caddis, so you're prepared for any situation. Lake fishing requires you to take advantage of local fishing conditions if you want to catch plenty of trout, and you'll need a diverse selection of flies to make the most of your time.
10. Goddard Caddis
For our last emerging fly, we have the Goddard Caddis. This is a great-looking fly created by British fly tyers John Goddard and Clive Henry during the 1960s for lake and still water fishing. This makes it the perfect accompaniment for trout fishing in lakes. It's an everyday favorite for many anglers globally, thanks to its buoyancy and the realistic silhouette that draws in opportunistic trout.
The Goddard Caddis is a beautiful addition to any angler's fly box and goes perfectly with other caddis imitations such as the Hot Wing and Graphic caddis. It's surprisingly tricky to sink and sits just on the surface of the water, making it the perfect caddis imitation. In summary, the Goddard Caddis deserves a few slots in your box if you plan to go trout fishing in lakes.
Streamer flies for trout fly fishing in lakes
11. Muddler Minnows
There are dozens of different Muddler Minnow patterns worth talking about, but they all share a common feature that helps to identify them; the flies have a clipped deer hair head. The purpose of this is to make the fly more buoyant. This makes it surprisingly flexible as it can then be used with a sinking line to reach different levels of the water column and maintain a steady dive. Trout tend to be a little more aggressive when it comes to the fall months. This helps them build up the courage to go for larger targets such as minnow. We wouldn't suggest using Muddler Minnow flies in the spring or summer, but they can work well all-year-round depending on lake conditions.
With so many different color variations, it's difficult not to recommend a couple of Muddler Minnow flies for your fly box, especially if you plan to fly fish towards the end of the year. It's an excellent option for trout fishing in lakes, and you won't be disappointed.
12. Muddy Buddy
The Muddy Buddy is perfect for catching larger freshwater predators such as trout. The Muddy Buddy is known for being an agile fly that has great versatility. Most anglers use it for fishing trout in lakes, but you can also use it in warmer waters for bass fishing. This makes it a great addition to any fly box, and you can get it in a number of different color patterns and sizes.
The Muddy Buddy is a great option for catching large trout. Its enormous body gives it a reasonably large silhouette, making it an excellent streamer that will catch the attention of any greedy trout in the water.
13. Bunny Leech
The aptly-named Bunny Leech is a fantastic all-purpose streamer that can be used in various waters. It's an excellent option for trout fishing in lakes and other slow-moving waters. The "bunny" in the name refers to the use of rabbit fur on the fly. It's cut into strips that give the fly a unique pulsating movement that's irresistible to trout. With experienced handling, you can create some erratic movements when retrieving the fly, which will draw in plenty of trout.
While some may find the Bunny Leech a little challenging to use, it certainly deserves a spot in your fly box if you find yourself heading out to a still water lake for trout fishing. It's a great way to practice using streamers, and it doesn't require particular conditions to make good use of it.
14. Butt Monkey
Despite its curious name, the Butt-Monkey is a colorful fly that is well-known for its ability to hook some of the biggest trout. It was first created by Scott Smith for Giant Brook Trout, and you'll see several different variations around. The Butt-Monkey is a streamer with an excellent track record of hooking some of the biggest trout around and has stood the test of time with ease.
There are several different color options with the Butt-Monkey, so we suggest having a few in your fly box. You'll want to sink this reasonably low and use a stop-and-go technique to retrieve it. Streamers tend to be a little challenging to use for beginners because it's important to imitate natural movements. However, it's a great way to learn more about streamer techniques. If you know that some monster trout out in the lake, we highly recommend packing a few of these!
15. Grizzly Zonker
The Grizzly Zonker is a versatile lure that you'll find in fly boxes all over the world. It's commonly used in still water locations such as a lake but can also be used wherever there's running water. The Grizzly Zonker is a beautiful fly fishing fly for trout that mimics large prey such as bullheads and stone loaches. It creates a reasonably large silhouette that will attract larger trout, especially as the seasons move towards fall when trout gets a little brave and aims to target bigger targets.
Like many old and tested flies, you'll find plenty of different variations for the Grizzly Zonker. For anglers that prefer a little more movement, you can try the Hot Head Straggler Grizzly Zonker that is more flexible and agile. You'll also find it in many different color variations, which should be a welcome addition to your fly box.
Putting Together the Perfect Fly Box for Trout Fly Fishing in Lakes
If you want the best chance of catching a lot of trout, it's a good idea to examine the lake conditions and pick your flies based on the season and the type of creatures around your lake. Ideally, you should have a versatile fly box suited to your preferred style of fly fishing and the kind of trout you want to catch. For larger fish, we highly recommend more streamers such as the Grizzly Zonker and the Bunny Leech. If you're a seasoned angler looking for large catches, then the Butt-Monkey is a must-have.
However, if you're looking to catch more trout during a hatch, then we highly suggest adding a few nymph flies to your fly box. The Hare's Ear is always a fantastic universal option that you shouldn't miss out on, and the Glo Bug is a perfect backup for when the trout stop biting.
Matthew Bernhardt, a third-generation Coloradan, grew up at the forefront of the state’s fly-fishing revolution, enjoying time on the water, side by side with experienced guides and lifelong anglers.
By combining his passion for fly-fishing with input from other experienced fly-fishers and guides and his fine arts degree from Colorado State University, Matthew spent five years carefully developing the Drifthook Fly Fishing System, built to help every angler catch more trout.
When he’s not spending time with his wonderful family, you’ll find him out on the water catching MONSTER trout, and he anxiously looks forward to the day when his kids are old enough to join him there.