Top Ten Small Stream Flies

I love fishing small streams for native brook trout. The scenery is beautiful, the fishing can be great, and it is just a great way to relax. There is nothing I enjoy more than heading off into a local forest, bamboo rod and wooden fly box in hand, ready for a day of brookie fishing. Now I do love fishing a technical fishery with my waders, vest, pounds of gear, and a dozen fly boxes, but part of the reason I enjoy fishing small brooks is because of the lack of gear. The only thing I carry when fishing small brooks is my rod (duh!), a small wooden fly box with an assortment of flies, and a lanyard with clippers and hemostats on them. I wear waders if its cold, but usually just wet-wade with sandals.

Today, I’m gonna focus on one of those three pieces of gear- the fly box. First off, I use a small custom wooden fly box that I got from a fair years ago, purely because I like the simplicity of it. Obviously, any fly box will work, because the patterns are what matter, not the box that holds them. But here I am going to list my top small stream patterns. I only carry 10 patterns in my small stream box, and I doubt those flies will ever change.
Without further ado, here they are…
The Stimulator
Foam Beetle
Royal Wulff
San Juan Worm
Zebra Midge
Orange and Partridge
Kemp Bug
Blacknose Dace
Beadhead Hares Ear Nymph
So that’s it; the ten patterns I carry for small streams. I’m not going to elaborate on each pattern, but I will give a brief summary. As you can see, I carry 3 nymphs (counting the San Juan Worm), 2 streamers, 1 soft hackle, and 4 dries. I usually try to fish dries for these small trout, hence the four dry flies, but sometimes you have to use nymphs to catch them. I carry relatively big dries, purely because I enjoy watching tiny brookies blow up on huge flies. The Orange and Hackle is a proven fish catcher, and is great for trout of any size. And the Kemp Bug and Blacknose Dace work well due to the aggressive nature of brookies. In a slightly larger or deeper brook, these flies are the best! And for nymphs, the Hares Ear needs no introduction, and is my go-to weighted nymph, and the Zebra Midge is the best fly for sight fishing for tiny brookies. As I mentioned the other day in my Swift River report, there are TONS of little brookies in the Swift. The are so small, that many of them can’t get a Hares Ear in their mouth. The only way to catch them is with a tiny Zebra Midge. Fish it under a tough of yarn if you want to drift it through the school, or without an indicator if you are sight fishing for a specific fish. Its also worth noting that these tiny brookies (like the ones at the Swift- 1-4 inches) can be caught on tiny dries.
Stock your boxes with some of these patterns, and give the small stream brookies a shot! I’ll write about a few good streams for targeting them later.
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4 thoughts on “Top Ten Small Stream Flies

  1. RI Brook Trout,

    Thanks for the comment. I do love the bomber, and that is the only exception for flies I fish on small streams. If the brookies are smashing dry flies, sometimes I will go to the bomber, even though it didn't make my list. And for the bugger, they are great, but for some reason I like the blacknose dace better. no idea why, I just do.


    1. RI brook trout the reason the BNDace makes the cut is because the dace is found in every brook trout stream I've fished. Brookies eat them. Many times I've taken brook trout from a stream and as I lifted them to photograph they have regurgitated dace. Brk Trt

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