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Types of Flies For Fly Fishing - Daggerfish Gear Flyfishing Rods and Handreels

Types of Flies For Fly Fishing

It’s always best to be as knowledgeable as possible about your fishing flies. Flies are designed to imitate common species of prey like insects, baitfish, and leeches. Thus, if you want to attract river dwelling fish like trout, you need to have flies with attractive sizes, patterns, and colors. Consider researching your fishing habitat to find out what kind of fish are prevalent around the area and what kind of bait they may be more attracted to. Here’s a basic overview of some of the most popular flies in the market to help you attract the best catch possible! 

Types of Fly Fishing Flies

Muddler Minnow Fly

Created by Don Gapen of Anoka, Minnesota in 1936, the Muddler Minnow is considered to be the most famous fly ever invented. A staple of trout fishing, this fly was originally designed to imitate bullhead baitfish to lure in brook trout. 


Characterized by a streamer pattern, the fly’s primary component is deer hair. This makes the fly very buoyant, creating a distinctive “muddler” motion that easily attracts other fish. The Muddler Minnow can be used to fish all year round. The fly works best when fished with a retrieve that makes it look like a fleeing baitfish. 

Muddler Minnow Variations

The Muddler Minnow’s popularity has contributed to several different variations of the fly, improving its versatility and design. Variations have developed upon its original ability to imitate baitfish and expanded its design to make the fly mimic several different attractors. 


Some of these common bait variations include crayfish, leeches, mayflies, grasshoppers, and more. Different versions of the Muddler Minnow fly work best in different water conditions and by using various fishing techniques. Specifically named Muddler Minnow Variations include the following:

  • The Gapen Muddler
  • The Maradou Muddler
  • The Tunghead Muddler
  • The Black Muddler 

Zonker Flies

Zonkers are streamer flies designed to imitate various species of baitfish that lure in trout. They’re characterized by a “wing” made out of a strip of fur, a luminous body, and reflective eyes. Its shiny appearance and fur makes the fly mimic the movement of fins.


Trout like to sit near the bottom of streams and rivers to regain their strength after swimming through strong currents. For this reason, Zonker flies work best in shallow rivers with a moderate current. This helps the fly blend in with baitfish like sculpin who shelter themselves in river rocks. 

White Zonker Fly

White zonkers are specifically designed to imitate the scales of baitfish that attract other fish like trout, salmon, and bass. Great for rivers and lakes, white zonkers work best in shallow waters between 2-6 feet deep.

When fishing with a white zonker fly, it’s best to match the behavior of real baitfish. To do this, move the fly in slow but sudden patterns. For example, let the fly “shelter” itself for a few seconds before swiftly retrieving it away.

Wooly Bugger Flies

The wooly bugger is a very well-rounded fly. Classified as a streamer, the fly comes in various sizes, colors, and patterns. Unlike other popular flies, not much is known about the Woolly Bugger’s origins. Some believe that it may be a variation of the Wooly Worm while others think that it’s another form of the Black Martinez fly.

Nevertheless, the Woolly Bugger has proven to be very effective for almost every form of fly fishing. Depending on your chosen pattern and color, Woolly Buggers can be used for every water condition. The Woolly Bugger is primarily designed to mimic various species of subsurface bugs that attract fish.

White Wooly Bugger

Known for its versatility and effectiveness, the white wooly bugger is designed to mimic various types of tadpoles, subsurface insects, and baitfish. River fish like trout, bass, and steelhead are all attracted to these forms of prey.

This fly works best when it’s dragged across the surface of the water, imitating species of insects, larvae, and tadpoles. White Wooly Buggers are especially attractive to fish because of their reflective nature. Bug-like movements mixed with eye catching shimmers in the water makes it a perfect bait for fish like trout and salmon.

Start Fishing With Daggerfish Gear! 

Completely handcrafted and designed for backcountry fishing, Daggerfish Gear offers all the supplies you’ll need for your next fishing adventure! Catch your next river trout with our minimalist packages featuring high quality leather materials, fishing line, and wooden hand reels. Explore our streamlined fishing kits including all the essential supplies you’ll need for fly fishing. Contact us to learn more about our fly fishing gear today!
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