Top Ranked Flies For Catching Brown Trout

Mark Melnyk Explains How to Set Up a Fly Rod, Pick Streamers, and Catch Some Trout

There is little argument that brown trout are the antithesis of fair-weather fish. Often, the worse the weather, the better the fishing for this species. Well, if you’ve had the opportunity to fish brown trout in nasty weather, you know they very well can be turned on, fired up, and ready to eat!

But what flies will allow you to best up your chances of hooking up these aggressive fish? Streamers are the answer to trigger violent reaction strikes for browns in moving water. Before we get to the top flies for these fish, let’s discuss the setup for your fly rod before we get to the meat of it all.

I love to streamer fish for brown trout with a 6 or a 7-weight fly rod, depending if I’m in a drift boat or fishing in the river: a 6-weight for the boat and 7 standing in the river. 

The reason is, the movement of the drift boat will help absorb some of the water current pressure you’ll experience versus standing in a river fighting the fish. I will match the rod with an equivalently weighted intermediate line, and use a short stout leader to the fly. Generally 6 or 7 feet of 1 - 3 X leader/tippet material. We’re enticing a reaction bite, so the fish generally won’t be bothered by leader material… Generally! Okay, here are my top five flies for nasty weather brown trout.

Bead Head Black Woolly Bugger

This fly is, in my opinion, the most versatile fly you can have in your fly box. It imitates a number of food sources that trout feed on. The bead head gives it some flash in the water while driving the fly down in the water column on the pause between strips. It can emulate a baitfish, leech, crayfish, or large nymphs, and will drive brown trout crazy.

Bead Head Black Woolly Bugger

Lynch’s Double D (down and dirty)

This is a large offering of protein. Any brown trout looking to pack on the pounds will jump on this big articulated fly. Fished erratically, it resembles a large injured baitfish and even can emulate a competitor fish in a brown trout’s territory. The strikes will be unmissable and extremely aggressive, as brown trout are extremely territorial, even more so as they approach the spawning periods in the fall.

Lynch’s Double D

White Zonker

Weighted or not, this flashy fly will catch the eye of any trout in the system, be it brown or not. A smaller offering, this fly imitates an injured shiner or similar silver-sided baitfish. Often, brown trout will take a white zonker as it may resemble what fleshy food they are used to eating most. You may need to decrease your tippet size with this smaller fly.

White Zonker

Yelloweye Sculpin

Sculpins are a food source in many river systems in which trout live. Natural colors such as olive or brown seem to get more of a reaction in my experience. I like the yelloweye as it’s a point of focus for the fish when attacking out of territorial aggression, versus an attack as a food source.

Yelloweye Sculpin

Zoo Cougar

This is another fly that can be categorized as a meaty offering. This fly has some spectacular swimming and diving capabilities, as the concave shape of the fly gives it some incredible action. Also considered an intrusive creature to a trout, you’ll get some pretty fantastic eats on this big fly. Colours I like are yellow, tan, brown and black. With these larger flies, increase your tippet size to match.

Zoo Cougar

Fishing brown trout on streamers in horrible weather is a lot of fun. Enticing a large fish to attack from the safety of its bankside lair, being able to see the chase, watch the eat, and enjoy the ensuing battle is completely addictive.

These fish are territorial predators that seem to get fired up the worse the weather gets. So on those days when Mother Nature is at her worst, get out there, because the brown trout fishing may just be at its best.

About Mark Melnyk

Currently, Mark is the host and producer of The New Fly Show. With a passion of fly fishing, the shows goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers. 

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