Outsmarting Fish with Seasonal Flies
Seasoned anglers heavily rely on hatch charts when planning fly-fishing trips. For example, Orvis offers gratis eastern and western U.S. hatch charts to give fly fishermen a leg up when it comes to choosing a nymph, emerger, spinner or adult version of a particular fly. A nymph represents an aquatic insect that has not yet metamorphosed into its final form; while an emerger is the hatched aquatic insect leaving the water to finish its metamorphosis on land.
Artificial Flies Mimic More than Insects
Many artificial flies seek to mimic real flies or other winged insects that might have fallen into the water and might now present a tasty snack for the fish. Other flies are specifically made to resemble larvae, reptiles, crustaceans, worms and even vegetation. Materials used in the manufacture of flies vary greatly. A hook is usually the centerpiece of the fly, but its camouflage may be made from nylon, colored feathers, fur, straw and hair.
Dry Fly vs. Wet Fly
The majority of flies fall into either the dry fly or wet fly categories. A dry fly is designed to float on top of the water and attract fish that come up from the depths of the lake or stream to feed on insects on the water's surface. In contrast, a wet fly is crafted to gradually sink in the water. They attract fish that feed at any water depth on a wide array of insects, smaller fish and crustaceans.
Saltwater vs. Freshwater Flies
Dry flies are generally used in freshwater areas, such as lakes, rivers and ponds. They are made to resemble insects, larvae and nymphs that you might normally encounter in these areas. Saltwater flies are crafted to resemble the kinds of baitfish, insects and larvae that are at home in estuaries and along the shoreline of the ocean. Examples of freshwater flies are nymphs and emergers; examples of saltwater flies are streamers and terrestrial flies.
Target Fish Flies
Flies are oftentimes kept as generic as possible to attract the most number of fish. For example, a fly made to look like a hatching aquatic insect attracts trout but also other freshwater fish that might share the trout's habitat. In contrast, carp and salmon flies specifically mimic the food sources that these fish prefer. Other fish may not be attracted to them.