Whether you’re new to fly fishing or you’ve been angling for decades, it’s important to have the right equipment when you’re on the water. When it comes to trout fishing, there’s nothing more important than choosing the right flies. From nymphs and emergers to streamers, you’ll want to have the right combination of flies to increase your catch.
Choosing the Best Trout Flies in October
The flies you choose to fish with will determine how successful you are. Imitating the trout's natural prey will tempt the fish closer to your hook and, ultimately, will get a bite. However, prey changes throughout the year, depending on hatching times. That's why it's essential to change the flies you use regularly and switch to different flies as the months pass and the seasons change.
October is a fantastic time of year for trout fishing. As the temperatures start to get a little colder, trout are feeding more frequently, which means you should find it easier to snag them! In addition to this, many people assume that fly fishing season ends after summer, which means there is plenty of space on the riverside or at the water’s edge. What’s more – trout fishing in October means you can enjoy the peace and quiet of your favorite spot before the temperature drops even lower.
Of course, if you plan to go trout fishing in October, you’ll need to know what flies to use. During this time of year, trout thrive on mayfly, caddis, and eggs, although you may find that working with midge flies works well too. Choosing flies that imitate these species will stand you in good stead if you’re fly fishing in October.
However, you'll also want to ensure that you have a good range of nymph, emerger, and streamer flies if you want to be successful. During colder months, trout tend to remain at deeper levels, so you may need to use nymph flies in order to reach them. Conversely, when eggs are hatching, trout may be drawn to the surface, so it's handy to have emerger flies on hand too. Furthermore, a selection of streamer flies will always be useful in October because trout are extremely carnivorous when they're building up strength for the upcoming Winter.
With this in mind, you'll want to choose your next selection of trout flies carefully. By packing your fly box thoroughly of mayfly, midge, caddis, and egg imitators and incorporating a mix of nymphs, emergers, and streamers, you'll have everything you need for a great day on the water.
If you want to increase your catches, we've got the inside track on the best flies to use for trout fishing in October. Want to get ahead of the game? Read on to find out which flies are must-have features in your fly fishing flies assortment this October.
Nymph Flies for Fly Fishing in October
Nymph flies enable you to get right down to the deepest levels and tempt trout who are laying low. In colder environments, you'll find that trout tend to stick close to the bottom of the river or lake, which means you'll need flies that are capable of penetrating these depths. When the fish remain clustered in pockets or aren't persuaded to travel to the surface of the water, nymph flies will tempt them to strike, no matter how deep they are.
1. Flashback Pheasant Tail
A variation on the standard Sawyer's Pheasant Tail, a Flashback Pheasant Trail nymph fly, makes it easier to create air bubbles. Many fly fishers believe this mimics the natural hatching process of a mayfly. With an air bubble cascading upwards, the Flashback Pheasant Tail perfectly imitates the release of air that rises through the water when a hatch occurs.
When your trout fishing in October, you'll want to switch a darker variation of colors to represent the natural hue of the insects. However, there are still plenty of options to choose from, with many fly fishers going for a mix of golds and greens. In addition to this, using a bead head, Flashback Pheasant Tail adds weight to the nymph fly and helps you to reach greater depths. When you're trout fishing in October, this is the ideal way to reach the fish when they're staying low and still in colder temperatures.
2. Hare’s Ear
One of the most popular nymphs flies out there, you'll see plenty of modified Hare's Ear flies when you're out on the water with fellow anglers. Routinely used for centuries, they're a must-have fly in any fly box, so make sure you're well-prepared by stashing a few of these away in your kit.
Technically, a Hare's Ear nymph fly represents the mayfly, but, in reality, it can be mistaken for any of the insects which make up a trout's diet. Perhaps, this is why they're so effective at catching trout, particularly in the colder months.
If you want to use a Hare's Ear variation, try a Flashback Hare's Ear with a bead head. Again, you'll get the benefit of the extra weight, while the Flashback will draw the fish's attention and create a natural-looking column of air bubbles.
3. Glo Bug Red Dot
Eggs only feature in the trout's diet from mid-September to mid-November, which means they're the perfect fly to use when you're trout fishing in October. The Glo Bug Red Dot is an incredibly popular egg nymph because it features the classic red blood dot, which seems to trigger fish to strike when nothing else is working. You'll find the egg nymphs are available in a wide range of colors. However, yellows, creams, and whites are typically your best bet when you're on the water in October and throughout the Fall.
4. Copper John
The Copper John nymph fly is essential if you're going to be trout fishing in deep water. While any nymph fly should enable you to read significant depths, the addition of copper on this fly will ensure it sinks quickly and gets your hook to where it needs to be. Created by famous fly fisher John Barr, it's a staple in any fly fishing flies assortment box.
If you want to imitate the caddis before their hatching season comes to an end, you'll undoubtedly want this fly in your kit. Caddis only usually hatch until the end of October, so you won't get much opportunity to use this one come to Winter. If you're fly fishing in October, however, it a must-have fly.
Like most super-popular flies, you'll find plenty of variations on the Copper John too. If you want to increase the weight of the Copper John, even more, opt for a nymph with a bead head. Alternatively, use different colors and sizes to tempt even the most stubborn trout to take a bite.
5. Mercury Midge
The Mercury Midge Fly might be simple, but that doesn't limit its efficacy. The addition of a glass bead imitates an air bubble, which is one of the main reasons it attracts trout so easily. What's more, like all bead heads, the extra weight ensures it can drop down to lower depths quickly and easily. With midges hatching for most of the year, you'll find that the Mercury Midge fly is a great fly to use when you're fishing for Trout in October or at any time of the year.
6. Hot Wire Prince
The Hot Wire Prince is a combination of two popular flies: the Copper John and the Prince Nymph. Made from wire, the two-tone body creates a realistic segmented effect, as well as adding weight to the fly. With endless color combinations to explore, you can imitate any number of insects with one of these. Often used to imitate caddis and mayfly, it can also be used as a general attractor.
When you're trout fishing in October, caddis and mayflies are two of the most important insects to replicate. They form the most significant part of the trout's diet at this time of year, so choosing a fly that can imitate them both can substantially improve your haul.
7. Holy Grail
Another caddis imitator, the Holy Grail fly, works supremely well in fresh and still water. You can even use it in warm water if you're hoping to catch other fish too. For trout fishing, however, the Holy Grail is well worth having in your kit.
You can use the Holy Grail fly alone or pair it with a dry fly emerger to increase its effectiveness. By using a two fly rig, you’ll find it even easier to attract trout, particularly when you can mimic a number of flying insects with the Holy Grail.
Dry Fly & Emerger Flies for Fly Fishing in October
Emerging flies are designed to mimic insets as they emerge from their hatch. As they’re particularly vulnerable at this time, it’s when their prey is most likely to pounce. This means that using emerging flies is a fantastic way to entice trout on to your hook. Emerging flies are available in both wet and dry fly formats. However, most anglers use dry fly emerging flies as they sit on top of the water in the same way that insects do as they emerge. This realistic imitation means they’re the perfect way to attract fish, so be sure to keep a selection available in your fly fishing flies assortment box.
8. Trico Dun
A mayfly emerging fly, the Trico Dun mimics the mayfly as it bursts free and completes the hatching process. If anything is going to tempt trout to the surface of the water in cold temperatures, it’s going to be this.
Tricos are a species of mayfly that is abundant from July to October, so they’re the ideal emerging fly to use if you’re trout fishing in October. The Trico Dun represents the mayfly in its earliest stages of hatching, which typically occurs in the early morning. If you’re going to be on the water as the sun rises, you’ll be impressed at how many fish you can land with this fly. However, if you’re going to be out later in the day, try a Trico Spinner in the afternoon or early evening.
9. Parachute Adams
The Parachute Adams is a versatile fly, but it’s widely known as one of the best to use for trout fishing. As a mayfly imitator, you’ll do well with this one if you’re fishing for trout in October. A Parachute Adams dry fly emerger features a hackle that’s wound horizontally and an upright wing. Not only does this make it easy to see, but it also means that the fly is exceptionally buoyant and rests easily on the surface of the water.
10. Hot Wing Caddis
The Hot Wing Caddis is a variation on the well-known Elk Hair Caddis. If you’ve ever used the Elk Hair Caddis fly, you’ll know just how tricky they can be to see once they’re on the water. With a Hot Wing Caddis, however, you’ll have no trouble spotting your fly. Using a highly visible yarn to create the wings, this emerger fly will attract trout in abundance and add a little more fun to your day.
11. Last Chance Cripple
As a mayfly imitator, the Last Chance Cripple emerger fly will stand you in good stead for trout fishing in October. The delicate wing ensures great floatation, while the hackle looks like a partially emerged dun once it’s sitting on the top of the water.
Depending on the exact formation and colors, Last Chance Cripple flies can mimic various types of mayflies. You'll find dedicated options to imitate the BWO and the Callibaetis, for example. With so many colors to choose from, you can spend days on the water with these flies alone!
12. Graphic Caddis
The Graphic Caddis fly perfectly imitates the caddis pupae as it emerges, making it one of the best dry fly emergers to have in your fly box. You'll even find that a holographic addition creates a realistic impression of an air bubble rising through the water, just as it does in nature.
Another classic creation from the renowned angler, John Barr, the Graphic Caddis fly, is one that every fly fisher should have to hand. When you're fishing for trout in October, you'll want numerous flies that mimic caddis, so be sure to pack plenty for your next fishing trip.
13. Goddard Caddis
Featuring a body constructed from spun deer and multiple turns of brown hackle, the Goddard Caddis is a great looking fly, both to the human eye and trout! Many anglers use the Goddard Caddis in sizes 14-16, although you'll find others out there. Perfect for still water, the Goddard Caddis fly also performs well when used in water with fast currents. If you're fishing on the river this October, be sure to have a few of these flies with you.
Streamer Flies for Fly Fishing in October
They might seem like fly fishing flies 101 if you've been angling for a while, but you'd be amazed at how many fly fishers lack confidence when it comes to streamers. With the right amount of practice, however, you can use streamers to catch record-breaking trout.
Streamers imitate larger lures, like crab and baitfish, which means only the bigger trout are likely to go for them. Additionally, trout are more likely to pounce on large prey as Winter approaches, which means they're an ideal choice as fly fishing flies for trout in October. What's more – streamers can be great fun too. By changing how you move them, you can attract more fish, so get ready to use long, slow strips and fast, erratic movements as you figure out the best way to attract trout to your hook.
14. Bunny Leech
Categorized as a general-purpose streamer, a Bunny Leach lure can be used almost anywhere, but it's ideal in lakes and slower moving waters. When other flies fail, many fly fishers turn to the Bunny Leech because it's so effective at attractive trout.
Made with rabbit fur (hence the Bunny portion of its name), this fly gives off a tremendous pulsating movement when it's in the water. This mimics the trout's natural prey perfectly, which is why it's a great way to increase your catch.
15. Muddler Minnow
There are numerous variations of the Muddler Minnow pattern, but they all share one common feature, the flies have a clipped deer hair head. This adds buoyancy to the fly and when using a sinking line allows it to be used at all levels of the water column while keeping it off the bottom of the lake, river, or stream.
When you strip a Muddler Minnow across the ripples of the water, it can attract trout in great numbers. As Winter approaches, trout tend to become more carnivorous, allowing them to build up strength. That's why so many fly fishers used Muddle Minnow flies throughout Fall and why it should be a definite feature in your fly fishing flies assortment.
16. Butt Monkey
Not only does the Butt Monkey fly have a great name, but it's also exceptional at hooking giant trout too! First created by Scott Smith for Giant Brook Trout, you'll see plenty of variations of it around. The Butt Monkey is another fly that mimics the sculpin well. As larger trout routinely feast on sculpin, it's the perfect fly to use if you want to catch a monster.
As sculpin lurk close to the floor of the water, you'll want to sink this streamer low and use a stop-and-go retrieval strip to imitate its natural movements. In terms of appearance, sculpin appears to change color as the light hits them. This means you can use Butt Monkey flies in a wide array of colors and hues. When you do, you'll find that they always catch the eye of trout, which could equate to a spectacular haul for you.
17. Grizzly Zonker
Suitable for use in both still and running water, the Grizzly Zonker is one of the best fly fishing flies for trout. It mimics large prey, such as Stone Loaches and Bullheads well, which means you can attract larger fish when you opt for this time of streamer.
Like most classic flies, there are endless modifications available for the Grizzly Zonker. If you want to add more movement, for example, try the Hot Head Straggler Grizzly Zonker. This delivers more movement due to the straggler and the strip wing, even when it’s submerged to great depths.
18. Slump Buster with Cone
If you've already tried fly fishing with a standard Slump Buster, why not upgrade to this modified version with a cone? Sometimes known as a Conehead Slump Buster, it will give you the chance to catch the biggest fish in the water. You'll find them in an array of sizes, usually stretching from 4 right up to 14, so you can select the perfect streamer for your location. The bigger the fish, the bigger prey they'll go for, so increase the size, and you might get a record catch.
19. Bow River Bugger
Developed by Bow River fly fishing guide, Peter Chenier in the 1980's, this wooly bugger/muddler minnow hybrid is killer at catching large trout. It can be fished dead drift on the bottom like a muddler or actively like a streamer. Within fast water, you might add split shot to get it down deep during these months.
20. Muddy Buddy
The Muddy Buddy fly is excellent for going for large migrating trout, but it's also suitable for use in warmer waters if you're bass fishing. The large profile gives great movement and ignites the attention of predatory trout. The Muddy Buddy always attracts attention when it's in the water. Combining the benefits of the Muddler and the Zonker, it's a great option if you want to catch big fish.
Using the Best Combination of Flies for Trout Fishing in October
Every fly fisher has their go-to selection of flies, and the ones listed above should undoubtedly be on your list if you're heading out to the water in October. By paying close attention to which species of insects are hatching at this time of year and using the above fly fishing flies to mimic them, you can have your best fishing trip yet.
Remember – it's always worth taking more flies than you think you'll need. There's nothing worse than running out flies when you're on the water, particularly if you're having success with a particular type, size, or style of fly. By taking an excellent fly fishing flies assortment with you, you can be confident that you'll have whatever you need to make the most of your trip.
At Drifthook, we’re as committed to fly fishing as you are, and we’re always happy to help. If you want to find out more about our fly fishing flies kits, contact us now at (773) 359-3474 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
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.