What Flies to Use for Trout in Washington?

Trout fishing in Washington is a popular activity among anglers of all skill levels. With its diverse range of lakes, rivers, and streams, the state offers ample opportunities to catch different species of trout.

However, one common question that often arises is what flies to use when Targeting trout in Washington. In this article, we will explore some of the best fly patterns that are proven to be successful in these waters.

Understanding Trout Feeding Habits

Before we dive into specific fly patterns, it’s important to understand the feeding habits of trout. Trout are known to be selective feeders and their diet can vary depending on the time of year and the specific water body they inhabit.

In general, trout primarily feed on aquatic insects such as mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, and midges. They also consume terrestrial insects like ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and even small fish.

The Dry Fly Selection

When it comes to dry flies for trout in Washington, several patterns have proven effective across various waters. Some popular choices include:

  • Adams: The Adams dry fly is a versatile pattern that imitates a wide range of mayflies. It features a gray body with grizzly hackle and wings.
  • Elk Hair Caddis: This fly pattern mimics adult caddisflies and works well during caddis hatches.

    Its elk hair wing provides excellent buoyancy.

  • Royal Wulff: The Royal Wulff is an attractor pattern that can entice trout even when there is no specific hatch occurring. Its distinctive red banding makes it highly visible on the water.

The Nymph Selection

Nymph fishing is often productive when trout are not actively rising to feed on the surface. Here are a few nymph patterns that have been successful in Washington:

  • Pheasant Tail Nymph: This classic pattern imitates various aquatic insects and is effective in both rivers and lakes. Its slender profile and natural colors make it a go-to choice for many anglers.
  • Hare’s Ear Nymph: The Hare’s Ear nymph is another versatile pattern that can imitate both mayflies and caddisflies.

    Its shaggy appearance and buggy look make it irresistible to trout.

  • Zebra Midge: When trout are keying in on midges, the Zebra Midge is a top choice. Its simple design with a slim body and fine wire rib makes it highly effective in slower-moving waters.

The Streamer Selection

Streamer fishing can be exhilarating, especially when Targeting larger trout or during periods of low light conditions. Here are some streamer patterns worth trying:

  • The Woolly Bugger is arguably the most popular streamer pattern worldwide. Its marabou tail, chenille body, and hackle collar create a lifelike motion that triggers aggressive strikes.
  • This pattern imitates small fish or sculpins, making it an excellent choice for enticing larger trout.

    The spun deer hair head adds buoyancy and creates a realistic Silhouette.

  • The Sculpzilla is an effective streamer pattern for both rivers and lakes. Its cone head allows for a quick sink rate, while the articulated design adds extra movement to entice predatory trout.

Experiment and Adapt

While these fly patterns have proven successful for trout in Washington, it’s important to remember that fishing can be unpredictable. Conditions can change, and trout can be highly selective at times. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to carry a range of fly patterns in different sizes and colors to adapt to different situations.

Remember to observe the water for any signs of insect activity or surface disturbances. This can provide valuable clues about what the trout are feeding on. Ultimately, the key to success is experimentation and being willing to adapt your approach based on the conditions you encounter.


Trout fishing in Washington is an incredible experience that offers anglers a chance to catch some remarkable fish. By understanding trout feeding habits and selecting the right fly patterns, you increase your chances of success on the water.

Whether you prefer dry flies, nymphs, or streamers, be sure to have a wide selection of patterns in your tackle box. So go out there, explore Washington’s beautiful waters, and enjoy the thrill of catching trout with the right flies!

Photo of author

Lindsay Collins