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What flies to start with?

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15 replies to this topic

#1 gone phishing

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 11:21 AM

I am taking some advice I read on here to start with 5 or so different patterns to learn and go from there. The problem is I don't know which patterns that I want  to start with and in turn, which material I require. I would like to start going after lake trout and large/small mouth bass. I will be fishing in NJ area (think a 1 - 2 hour radius from Philly). 


Now that I am thinking about this, it leads me to another question. I know there is an entomology section here but can anybody recommend a good book on the subject for beginners?

#2 Crackaig


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 02:39 PM

This may seem strange, but I'm not going to give you a list of flies. This is because where I am we fish very differently than people do where you are. I know the techniques we use work where you are: I have friends who have proved the fact. However, as a beginner you will not find anyone who can help you with these techniques where you are. Also we have no bass over here to fish for. so for that part of your question I haven't a clue. What I will do is list techniques in the order you should learn them. This is very much a one leads on to the next process. Any fly is a list of materials to which fly tying techniques are applied. If you know you have the skills, then buy the materials, you can tie any fly you want to. I'll leave it to the people with local (to you) knowledge to recommend specific patterns.


Neither would I recommend an entomology book. Those I know are of no relevance in your location.


The first thing you need to do is learn how to start the thread on a hook shank. Quickly followed by learning to finish a fly with a whip finish. There is no point you being able to tie a perfect Jock Scott (28 materials) if you can't finish it at the end.


Next learn to lay a thread body of touching turns along the hook shank. No overlapping, no gaps. Contrary to what you see in most videos 99%+ of all the flies you will tie can be tied in one pass of the thread down and back up the hook shank. All this winding back and forth you see, does not improve the end result; it just wastes your thread.

Then learn to wind a hackle, For a start I'd suggest something cheap like a Chinese neck. Winding a hackle also means that you have to learn to size a hackle.

Once you can do that, try tying a piece of wool to the top of the hook shank. It doesn't want to stay there. To get it to stay there look up the pinch and loop. Learn this; it is used for every tail and wing you will tie. (there are other methods, but those are advanced, were sticking to basics here.


Practice winding floss bodies until you get the shape you want. this will also help with hearl and biot bodies. Also practice winding a wire rib over the body.

Then learn to dub. Just a dubbing noodle to start with. The secret is tease the dubbing apart, and apply a little at a time. Use as much pressure as you can generate between finger and thumb. Start with rabbit fur, It is by far the easiest.


Finally for now, the palmered or body hackle, This is tied in towards the head and runs in equally spaced turns to the tail. Then it is secured by winding the rib through it.

Those should keep you going for 3 or 4 months, and enable you to tie plenty of practical fishing flies.


If you need any help, don't be afraid to ask. There are plenty of people here who will be happy to help. If you think something is embarrassing to ask publicly, you can message me.



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#3 FlatsRoamer


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 02:50 PM


Still hunting for my first tarpon on fly! 

Why are windknots in love with me?

Can't wait for that diy trip to Acklins!!



Find my youtube channel in the link below



#4 Bimini15


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 03:26 PM

Don't know about trout, but, for bass, I would suggest starting with gurglers, deceivers and clousers. They are not complicated flies that cover the water from top to bottom.
Listen to Crackaig, good tecnique will help with anything you tie in the future.

#5 Brodrash


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 04:33 PM

As Crackaig, and Bimini stated techniques are what is most important. I would add zonkers to bimini's list of patterns they make good baitfish imitations and are cheap easy ties!


As far as lake trout (aka mackinaw) go I may be in need of some enlightening. Here in Utah they are only in the biggest deepest lakes and are usually taken by trolling or fishing cut bait down deep. I haven't met anybody that targets them on the fly so I cant help you there. Hopefully someone comes along and fills us both in!

#6 Kentuckysteve


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 05:17 PM

I agree technique is #1 to learn.Don't try to be fast.That will come in time.Take your time and learn to tie right.

Surprised no one has said wooly buggers.Easy to tie and great baitfish imitation fly for bass.

Find a hatch chart for your area.It will tell you the bugs in your area and the times in the year when they hatch.This will help you in tying bugs and insects that are in you area instead of just tying everything you see on the internet and hoping they work.

There is no greater fan of fly fishing........Than the worm. -  Patrick F. McManus

#7 Poopdeck


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 08:11 PM

Where can you find lake trout within 1 or 2 hours of Philadelphia? I've lived and fished my entire life in this area and Don't know of a single lake close to philly with lake trout. I assume you are talking trout in lakes and not lake trout. I fish for smallmouth bass on the Delaware river on the edge of the radius you described. Here is what I fish:

1) Clouser minnow, white with green back, white with yellow back, white with brown back, all white.
2) Gurgler. Get the foam sheets at any craft store for .79 cents you can get a 8.5 by 11 sheet. Or go the the fly shop and buy a little bitty square for 5 bucks. This time of the year with a billion shad fry going down river the colors are simple, all white.
3) Bead head Woolley bugger. Colors Black and olive.
4) Clouser minnow, white with green back, white with yellow back, white with brown back, all white.
5) Mop fly, my new WW do all fly.

All are super simple to tie, require few materials and all will help you with the basics of fly tying. Most importantly all are extremely effective on smallmouth bass and other WW species like large mouth bass, pickerel, sunnies, crappies and perch.

I don't lake fish for trout so I can't help you there. Since you live in a largely warm water fishery you might want to concentrate on WW fish for the time being. You may also want to concentrate on rivers, ponds and streams since lake fishing with a fly rod is not so easy.

#8 chugbug27


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 08:32 PM

Troutnut.com is a more than decent place to start exploring water bugs. Have fun

#9 SilverCreek


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 08:46 PM


Now that I am thinking about this, it leads me to another question. I know there is an entomology section here but can anybody recommend a good book on the subject for beginners?


I answered a similar question on entomology below. You can read the thread from the beginning but the link below is my post.





"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy


#10 Philly


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:51 PM

Initially, I thought that's a big area, but throw traffic into the mix, maybe as far north as Princeton, east to the shore, south to near Millville.  Lots of lakes and streams to fish.  By "lake trout", I'm assuming you mean the trout stocked in local lakes by the state.  Smallmouth, as Poopdeck pointed out  are best chased on the Delaware, anywhere you can find access above Scudder's Falls though they're in the river south of Trenton.   And I don't see why they shouldn't be in the smaller streams and rivers on the Jersey side.  Flies to use, like Poopdeck, I've lived and fished the area on both sides of the Delaware most of my life.  I would pick three on his list.  Bead Head Woolly Bugger, I would add white to his color list, it makes a better bait fish pattern.  The Gurgler, white definitely, add yellow and chartreuse to list, and last but not least the mop fly.  I'd never heard of it until this past spring when my salt water club president showed me how to tie one when we did a tying demonstration at the LL Bean store in Marlton.  It's been downhill ever since, but it's also been my most effective fly this year for trout and warm water.

 No offense to Silvercreek who I've "known" on various lists and boards for twenty years and anything he writes is well worth reading.  Not sure how much a book on entomology will help you since most books related to fly fishing will focus on stream insects.  You might be better off googling, "insects on/in South Jersey streams and lakes" and go from there.  I'm pretty sure there's a Trout Unlimited club in South Jersey, just don't know where it's located, plus a couple of salt water clubs.  The Orvis store in Marlton should offer classes in fly tying and fly fishing and is worth checking out.

"All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

#11 FIN-ITE 34


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 05:39 AM

I guess you guys never heard of Round Valley Reservoir, about 90 minutes from Philadelphia and loaded with Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush).

#12 Poopdeck


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:22 AM

I have heard of round valley. I should have qualified my comment. The only fishing I've done in NJ is in the Delaware river and the Atlantic Ocean. im still pretty sure the OP meant trout in lakes.

#13 FIN-ITE 34


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:03 AM

Well then RVR has a very healthy population of Lake, Rainbow and Brown trout. The latter two can be found in the shallow water at certain times of the year where fly fishing is an option. Very good SMB also.



19 species of fish inhabit Round Valley Reservoir and is a designated Trophy Trout Lake which currently holds the following NJ state fishing records:
•Lake Trout 32lbs. 8oz.
•Brown Trout 21lbs. 6oz.
•Smallmouth Bass 7lbs. 2oz.
•American Eel 6lbs. 13oz.

#14 mikechell



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 11:50 AM

Top water poppers!  Hard to beat for fun bass action.


Just a note here from a VERY miserly (read "cheap") fly tier.  Not every fly needs to look pretty.  Not every fly needs to be tie with high end materials to catch fish.  I've been tying flies fro decades, and my most productive flies are still the least expensive ones I tie.


For example ... my flipflop foam popper:

Attached File  flip flop foam popper.jpg   112.71KB   2 downloads


The synthetic hair inside the feather boa barbs, prevents the feather barbs from collapsing too far when wet. Without the synthetic hair, feather boa barbs will collapse to a thin line profile.  With the synthetic, it provides a LOT of movement even while the bug sits still.

Barbed hooks rule!
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#15 bass master

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 05:45 PM

I would suggest watching Beginner Fly Tying Tips - Part 1 to Part 8 on YouTube. Great info for any starter.