The Best 11 Trout Flies You Need to Know About

by | Published on: Jun 5, 2023 | Fly Fishing, Trout

When it comes to options, fly fishing flies for trout are plentiful; the UK has a wide range of fly patterns and designs available to the angler. This article will focus on the best flies for both brown and rainbow trout, with some beginner-friendly flies thrown in.

For a look at the different trout fly types, check out our guide that breaks them all down.

Beginner-Friendly Trout Flies

1. Woolly Buggers

The Woolly Bugger is a beginner-friendly fly suitable for brown and rainbow trout.

  • Hook (type & size range): Sizes 12 – 16, in 2x or 3x lengths – barbed/barbless
  • Thread: Olive uni-thread (size 8/0)
  • Tail: Bushy, brown/green
  • Body: Tapered
  • Typical target species: Brown and rainbow trout
  • Rough price guide: £1.25 per fly
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: Beaded

I enjoy using Woolly Buggers when weather conditions are deplorable. Woolly Buggers are large, heavy flies and sink rapidly compared to smaller flies (even faster if tied with a tungsten bead). I recommend fishing these flies in deeper bodies of water.

Why Use Woolly Buggers?

In the UK, weather conditions can change quickly; having a Woolly Bugger in your fly box is a great option to deal with heavy rainfall. Heavy rain makes it challenging to use dry flies and topwater flies. As Woolly Buggers are wet flies/streamers, they are retrieved under the water, avoiding any poor weather conditions.

Due to their versatility, the Woolly Bugger is one of the best beginner flies for trout anglers.

2. Eggstacy Blobs (Cocktail Orange)

Eggstacy Blobs are beginner-friendly flies suitable for both brown and rainbow trout.

Beginner-friendly specs:

  • Hook (type & size range): Size 10, curved shank and barbed
  • Thread: 8/0 uni (a breaking strain of 1 lb)
  • Tail: Use a brush to pull fibres from the main body
  • Body: A mixture of neon orange, yellow and green.
  • Typical target species: Brown and rainbow trout
  • Rough price guide: £0.80 per fly
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: Can be tied with or without a bead

Eggstacy Blobs are incredibly beneficial in stocked rainbow and brown trout lakes. Specifically between November and January. Between these dates, trout lay their eggs, which Eggstacy Blobs do a great job representing.

For more information on fishing for trout in lakes, take a look at our comprehensive guide.

Why Use Eggstacy Blobs?

Due to their simplicity, Eggstacy Blobs are very easy to fish with. They can be fished independently, using a float attached to a leader and are one of the easiest flies to tie.

For more experienced anglers, Eggstacy Blobs are the perfect attractor fly, used for luring fish into taking your second fly. They are usually bright in colour; I recommend Eggstacy Blobs tied in cocktail orange.

The Best Flies For Brown Trout

1. Caddis Fly Pattern Nymph

Caddis Flies come in nymph form, which are well suited for brown trout.

  • Hook (type & size range): Size 16/14, straight shank
  • Thread: 6/0 uni
  • Tail: N/A
  • Body: Green/brown, tightly wrapped; use a brush to create fuzz around the fly
  • Typical target species: Brown trout
  • Rough price guide: £5.00 per fly
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: Available in multiple patterns

When there is a caddis hatch, these flies can be devastating. Caddis usually hatch around Autumn time, although some phenomenal hatches can occur in March. I have had great luck using tiny caddis patterns instead of larger flies, as they are much more efficient for receiving strikes.

Why Use Caddis Flies?

If you want to locate fish in a new body of water, it can be helpful to look for caddisflies. Their presence is often a good sign that there are fish nearby. Caddisflies are extremely sensitive to water pollution and only survive in high-quality water. In turn, high water quality provides a suitable habitat for brown trout, which will most likely feed on the flies around them.

2. Black Mamba

The Black Mamba is a streamer and a very popular choice for anglers targeting brown trout.

  • Hook: Size 8
  • Thread: 4/0 to 6/0
  • Tail: Extremely bushy and curved
  • Body: Black and green
  • Typical target species: Brown trout
  • Rough price guide: £1.50 per fly
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: Very large

The Black Mamba has been a fly pattern I’ve been tying for years. It’s an excellent choice in slow-moving water, where trout are more likely to strike a moving fly. I get incredibly aggressive takes with this fly, which as anglers, is what we all crave – a strong fighting brown trout hitting with force!

Why Use Black Mambas?

Like Woolly Buggers, Black Mambas sink much faster than the average fly. This is due to their large size and can be a benefit if you wish to fish deeper down. In addition, Black Mambas are relatively easy to tie compared to other similar streamers.

3. Bead Head Nymphs (Various Patterns)

Bead Head Nymphs are essentially regular nymphs with heavy beads attached.

  • Hook: Size 14
  • Thread: 6/0
  • Tail: N/A
  • Body: Can be tightly wrapped or bushy
  • Typical target species: Brown trout
  • Rough price guide: £0.80
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: Available in a selection of effective patterns – pink is the dominant choice for brown trout and salmon

I love using Bead Head Nymphs when fishing rivers for brown trout, Atlantic salmon and dollaghan. They are easily tied, come in a wide variety of patterns, and it is possible to fish with three or four of them at the same time.

Why Use Bead Head Nymphs?

Simply put, Bead Head Nymphs are highly versatile. They can be fished using a float, retrieved or free-flowing throughout a stream or river. This level of optionality makes it a must-have fly to keep in your fly box at all times.

4. Caenis Fly (The Fisherman’s Curse)

The Caenis is a small dry fly.

  • Hook: Size 18/16
  • Thread: 8/0
  • Tail: Very fine tail protruding from the body
  • Body: Small and grey, may also include a red dot
  • Typical target species: Brown trout
  • Rough price guide: £0.80
  • Fly type: Dry
  • Other notable features: This fly is tiny, which can make it challenging to tie, especially when visibility is limited

Caenis flies are commonly made from deer hair and dry fly dubbing. I love working with these materials, as they are easy to use and effective once on the hook. Having one of these in your tackle box is practically essential when a caenis hatch is on.

Why Use Caenis Flies?

Caenis flies are known as the fisherman’s curse, and for good reason. Trout feeding on a hatch of Caenis flies will not take anything else. Without one, you’ll be in for a rough time, trust me.

5. Daddy Long Legs

The Daddy Long Legs is a large brown dry fly.

  • Hook: Size 10/12
  • Thread: 6/0
  • Tail: Large legs protruding from the body in place of a tail
  • Body: Brown and grey
  • Typical target species: Brown trout
  • Rough price guide: £0.75
  • Fly type: Dry

Daddy Long Legs was the first dry fly I fished with, and I absolutely love them. This is mainly due to their large size, which makes it easy to observe a take.

Why Use a Daddy Long Legs Fly?

When trout target larger flies, they do so with more force. This makes your job as an angler much easier, as it’s obvious when to strike!

The Best Flies For Rainbow Trout

1. Olive Dancer

  • Hook: Size 10/8
  • Thread: Green 6/0
  • Tail: Bushy green
  • Body: Tight green
  • Typical target species: Rainbow trout
  • Rough price guide: £1.20
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: Beaded

Olive Dancers are highly reliable for catching trout in a variety of conditions. Whilst they require a certain skill level to get the most from, slowing your retrieval speed will improve the consistency of takes.

Why Use Olive Dancers?

Olive Dancers are superb flies, particularly in the summer months. When pulled through the water, the vibrations generated by the head and feathers are very effective at attracting trout and often lead to aggressive bites.

2. Squirmy Wormies (Red, White and Clear)

A Squirmy Wormy is a rubber fly used to represent a maggot or earthworm.

  • Hook: Size 12
  • Thread: 6/0 black
  • Tail: Rubber ends
  • Body: Ribbed rubber
  • Typical target species: Rainbow trout
  • Rough price guide: £0.80
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: Beaded

I find Squirmy Wormies to be highly effective in still water. I use them on a small float and get the best results when targeting topwater regions.

Why Use Squirmy Wormies?

The Squirmy Wormy is one of the best still water trout flies UK anglers can find. They are extremely simple to fish with and tie, meaning they can be batch-tied with various colours and minimal materials.

3. Rainbow Buzzers

  • Hook: Size 16
  • Thread: N/A
  • Tail: N/A
  • Body: Flash/crisp packet attached or melted onto
  • Typical target species: Rainbow trout
  • Rough price guide: £0.40
  • Fly type: Wet
  • Other notable features: The inner material from a crisp packet can be used in place of other reflective materials to create the body section

I use Rainbow Buzzers in murky water. The vibrant bead and gentle movement they create are perfect for dark, gloomy, stocked lakes.

Why Use Rainbow Buzzers?

Due to their bright colours, Rainbow Buzzers are good options for use as attractor flies, used for luring in fish that then take on your second fly. In addition, they can be fished in pairs or triplets and retrieved using various techniques.

Rainbow Buzzers are highly effective on lakes and feature in my top lake fly fishing setup.

4. Beetle Trout Flies (Foam)

  • Hook: Size 12
  • Thread: 6/0
  • Tail: Rubber bands
  • Body: Foam block
  • Typical target species: Rainbow trout
  • Rough price guide: £0.50
  • Fly type: Wet

One spring, a swarm of beetles caused blight in Lough Fadden, where I was fishing for rainbow trout. As expected, the fish went into a feeding frenzy, consuming as many beetles as possible. I tied on a small Beetle Fly (shown here) and hooked over twenty fish in the space of an hour and a half.

When the situation strikes, these flies are incredible and deserve to be carried at all times, just in case.

Why Use Beetle Flies?

Beetle Flies are extremely easy to tie; all you need is foam, rubber bands, black thread, and a hook. Beetle Flies are especially effective when trout are already naturally feeding on beetles. I don’t recommend using them if this is not the case.


There are so many different fly options available for anglers targeting brown and rainbow trout, it can be overwhelming to choose. I encourage you to give some of these flies a chance, as I love them! With that said, it’s always worth considering the time of year, water depth and location, before putting any flies into action.

Tight lines!