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Choosing the Right Wet Flies and Gold Heads for Fly Fishing

Updated on March 12, 2011

It would be a mistake to ignore the traditional wet flies that grayling and trout anglers have used for centuries, especially if you're thinking of fishing any of the rougher streams. These are gaudy, colorful flies that are not really tied to represent any food item in particular. They just give a general impression of something edible; a Bloody Butcher is typical. Go for a small selection of different sized wet flies that feature reds, blues, greens and blacks, perhaps with an odd dash of silver here and there. It's probably true to say that the actual choice of wet fly is not generally too critical — it's how you fish it that's important. But more of that later.

Next on the shopping list come gold heads, which are really just nymphs, but with a golden bead tied to the top for weight and for 'flash'. Once again, buy a small selection of different sizes and different colors. My own favourites tend to be tied in red, orange and sometimes black. 

Finally, no angler's fly box is complete without just a few buzzers, tied to represent midges that hatch out of the surface film, particularly in the evening. Buzzers are generally quite small; red, orange and black are favoured colors. 

Building Lip a fly collection will take time. My tip is to buy half a dozen or so each time you go into the tackle shop. That way, it's not too heavy on the pocket. Bear in mind that you're going to lose some, especially when you start, and you may feel that every tree and every reed is out to spite you!

Look after your flies. Don't let damp get into your fly box, or you'll find that all the books will rust quickly. If you do have a spillage, take the box out of your bag at home and dry it out thoroughly next to a radiator. 

Finally you'll probably need a light bag to bold all this gear as you wander the riverbanks. Alternatively, you can probably get away with a fly fisherman's waistcoat, which features a whole warren of pockets capacious enough to swallow fly boxes, extra reel spools, priests, even the odd bottle of beer! The choice is yours, but for me, as I like to travel as light as possible, I'd go with the vest.


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  • David Legg 7 profile image

    David Legg 7 

    6 years ago from Trout Paradise, Colorado

    Great tips. The classic flies are awesome! Thanks for the reminder.



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