For all the salmon and trout anglers out there, you know fall is the best time of the year to hit the local streams searching for a fish to fill a dinner plate. But between casting and reeling in a trophy, it’s anyone’s guess what fly-fishing flies are hot and which are not.

You may have heard names like a wooly bugger, caddisflies, stoneflies, nymphs, and scuds thrown around. But although all great baits are on a stand-alone basis, selecting the perfect fall fly-fishing flies to don requires a little more know-how.

Tried and tested among anglers all over the nation, here is a list of the best flies for this cooler-filling season!

1. Wooly Bugger

If there were such a thing as a universal remote in the fishing world, it would be the wooly bugger.

What makes it particularly attractive, among other fly-fishing flies, is its simple body that comes in various colors. Heavier weights can be paired with a spinning reel and rod combo for water with current or dams. Heck, some anglers even use it to target bass and northern pike.

But back to fly-fishing, trout or salmon can be tricky on a typical day. In the fall, these guys are bigger and have a large and aggressive appetite to go along with it. 

Yet, these fish can be skeptical while sitting in a pool waiting for food to pass by. So, to properly use a wooly bugger, sail it through the pools and if you don’t first succeed, try, try again. This further shows that trout won’t move more than a few feet to hit a line, so patience is needed.

2. Elk Hair Caddisfly

The OG, the classic, the elk hair caddisfly, has been around for what seems like an eternity. But, there’s no going wrong with this holy grail of fly fishing flies.

To truly understand the effectiveness of this fly in the fall, dive deep into the insect hatches. Caddisflies have two hatches in a year; in the spring and then again in the fall. As such, this is when these flies can be used to the best of their advantage.

While there are roughly 1,500 species of caddisfly in North America, it’s best to use some that occur in the natural environment with natural, earthy tones. As for a window of opportunity, some hatches last well in October, but it’s best to gauge the water’s surface before using this dry fly.

3. Spey Fly

If a Spey fly is on this list, it’s all about the salmon. Spey flies are remarkable for their diverse range of colors and patterns, but one thing is sure; salmon love these wispy-looking lures. 

Unlike other fly fishing flies, the Spey fly was named after the very famous salmon river in Scotland, the Spey River. It was initially created to mimic crustaceans, although patterns have varied over time and by manufacturers. But you could say it’s nothing short of a miracle.

Thus, it’s not just salmon that love this bait; it’s also steelhead. When selecting for the fall, pink, red, orange, and flashy are the best ways to go. 

New to fly fishing? No problem! Consider the Spey fly when picking out gear. Compared to other fly fishing flies, these are easier to learn how to tie on.

4. Bombers

If you find yourself in an area of swirling pooling and riffles, go for a trusty bomber. Every fly fisher should have this in their repertoire of flyfishing flies; it’s like the one friend that is always there for you. While there’s no shortage of uses when it comes to bombers, it shouldn’t be overlooked in the fall.

Whether it’s your first couple of fly casts or your thousandth, bombers are great in any season and for any skill level. When in practice, just cast and let it dance in the water, mimicking an insect in distress.

What’s different come fall, is the colors that lead to having a fish on. The best colors for a bomber are olive or pumpkin green, and schemes of blue and orange. 

Make sure you give your beloved bomber a once-over before using it. If it’s missing patches of hair from being chewed on, it won’t be presented well in the water.

5. Hare’s Ear Nymph

Here’s one perfect for slow and clear-moving water. It’s not as colorful or intriguing to look at, heck some may even call it ugly, but the hare’s ear nymph works.

Another dry fly that moves with the rhythm of the water, this small but effective bait will entice any trout with its natural presence. So, when deciding on a color scheme, keep it light and natural and hooks erring on the smaller side to nick the lips of the fish. Aim for hook sizes #16 to #20 here.

More so, you’re probably wondering why to size down when the fish are gigantic. This is because trout can see bigger hooks when fishing in clear water, so it’s best to size down. Yes, even in the fall, the hare’s ear nymph is one of this season’s best-underrated fly fishing flies.

In Closing

Fly fishing for trout or salmon in the fall can bring on a slew of feelings. From the lows of a monster that got away to the highs of one hooked, giving an aerobatic display, fall fly fishing is not for the faint of heart. And it can come down to something as simple as picking the right fly fishing flies.

Nevertheless, the list of outstanding fall flies doesn’t stop here. Streamers, hairwings, eggs, and tube flies are all excellent alternative picks for salmon or steelhead. Whereas midges, bees, ants, and shimmering minnows can make for a day of fun to see what exactly works for a picky trout.

What are your go-to’s when it comes to fall fly fishing flies? Please let us know in the comments!