Because Drifthook is in the fly fishing business, we get all types of questions about what flies to use for fly fishing? It’s understandable, as there is seemingly no end to the pattern choices of fly fishing flies on the market today. In this article, we will discuss Fly Fishing Nymphs or Nymph Patterns used in fly fishing.

As a general rule, fly fishing nymphs are artificial patterns that represent a juvenile aquatic insect. They are tied with natural and synthetic materials such as fur, feathers, and thread. Nymphs are fished below the water surface to attract fish such as Trout, Bass, and other predatory species.

Other vernacular includes Wet Flies, but these patterns typically reference traditional soft hackle presentation that are used in a particular style of fly fishing called the "Wet Fly Swing" or "Swinging a Wet Fly."

Brown Trout in Net with Zebra Midge in Mouth


Click here to find out Are Nymphs Wet or Dry Flies?

Nymphs are flies that tend to imitate younger insects, such as those that you might find in the subsurface of rivers and lakes, as well as streams. Because they are fished underwater, where most fish eat, they can be highly productive. For that reason, they can be a valuable type of fly to have in your kit.

Nymphs are flies in between the larvae and complete adult stages, and they are located in the lowest section of the feeding column and will develop to move to the surface. Streams and rivers are often the best sources for nymphing or nymph fishing, but they also can be very successful in still waters such as lakes or reservoirs.

Mayfly Nymph


In general, Nymphing is a fly fishing activity where fly patterns called nymphs are used to attract and catch different types of fish. Nymphing is typically done using a nymph pattern underwater. Nymphing is a highly effective method for fly fishing, mainly because fish spend most of their time feeding underwater.

One of the more popular categories of nymphing today is Euro Nymphing, a specific type of nymphing that developed in Europe in competitive fly fishing. In Euro Nymphing, there are some distinctions of other kinds of nymphing.

For instance, Euro Nymphing often uses the weight of the nymph to propel the fly to the target versus the fly line in traditional fly fishing. They also use very long leaders to perform a contact nymphing style with little to no line on the water but a direct connection from your rod-tip to your fly pattern.



All flies that you use in fly fishing imitate something. But bear in mind that, even though they are called 'flies,' they do not all imitate flies. Sometimes they imitate a range of insects and other beings, and sometimes even small aquatic life too.

The majority of fly patterns for nymphing can be broken down into these eight categories.

  1. Midges
  2. Mayflies
  3. Caddis
  4. Stoneflies
  5. Anilids or Worms
  6. Egg
  7. Scuds or Sowbugs
  8. Damselflies or Dragonflies

Some Patterns are designed to mimic multiple insects, such as the Copper John representing both a mayfly nymph and a stonefly nymph.


A big question for anyone going fly fishing is knowing what kind of fly to use. Even once you have narrowed it down to using a nymph, you will still be faced with many nymphs to choose between. The trick is knowing which to use for each situation that you might find yourself in, which has a bit of an art to it.

One tool that you will find helpful is this hatch chart. Using this simple chart, you can efficiently work out what nymph is best to use in what circumstance, thereby making that part of the process so much easier and simpler for you to understand.

As you can see from the chart, it all depends on a few factors: the time of year, the time of day, and the warmth of the day. With that, you can figure out precisely what nymphs you should be using and when.

If you take all that information on board, you should be able to use nymphs exactly when you need to improve your chances out on the water.


Click here to download a free copy of our Seasonal Hatch Chart

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