If you know a fly fisherman, and are looking for a gift for him, fishing flies are a great choice. A fly fisherman cannot have too many flies, so your gift will always be appreciated. Flies wear out, and get lost, so most fishermen carry several of the same fly, in various sizes. Here are some suggestions for what to look for if you are going to buy flies for a fly fisherman as a gift.
First, if you are unfamiliar with fly fishing, or purchasing flies, go simple. There are several patterns that every fly fisherman carries in his box, and these are safe purchases. A few patterns such as the Elk Hair Caddis, the Hare’s Ear Nymph, the Adam’s Dry, the Pheasant Tail Nymph, and the Wooly Bugger are good options. These are patterns that are effective on most trout streams, and are a staple in most fly boxes. You can purchase these patterns in various sizes and help to keep your fly fisherman’s box well stocked.
If you are more familiar with fly fishing, you can purchase some more area specific flies. Many streams will have very specific insect life present at various times of the year. If you know the insects that inhabit the local streams of your fly fisherman, and you understand their life cycles, you can buy the various flies that represent those life cycles. Look for nymph, caddis or dry fly patterns that mimic these various stages. Often, there are specific patterns that are known to be successful on specific streams. For example, one of the streams that I enjoy fishing is the Elk River, in the mountains of West Virginia. It is known for its very small midge hatches. These are mimicked by a #32 midge pattern, which is hard to see, difficult to fish, but very successful when done right. If you can identify a specialty pattern for the streams where your fisherman fishes, it would make a great gift!
Another option is to purchase terrestrial patterns. These are patterns that mimic land insects rather than aquatic insects. These patterns are very successful on most streams in the late summer months. Grass hoppers, lady bugs, and beetles are all patterns that are popular, especially along streams that flow through grasslands, or pastures. In the warmer summer months, these types of insects become a staple food for the fish.
If your fly fisherman prefers to pursue bass, or other larger predatory fish (such as Muskie, or Pike), then you can look at deer hair poppers. These are flies that are made from deer hair, so that they are very buoyant. They float on the top, and when fished correctly, pop the water, appearing like a frog, salamander, or wounded minnow. These types of flies are perfect for fishing lakes, or ponds. Another option is to look for minnow imitating flies, such as sculpins, muddler minnows, or larger wooly buggers. These flies are also great choices for larger fish on open lakes and ponds.
For the pan fish fisherman, smaller poppers are the best choice. They are often made of small pieces of cork, with a feather tail. These types of flies are deadly on pan fish such as bluegills, red bellies, or crappie.
You can purchase several flies for a reasonable price if you do a search online. Fly shops provide a large selection, but are often overpriced (sometimes over $2 per fly). There are several sources online where you purchase flies for a much more reasonable price. I like to look on Ebay, as there are many tiers that sell their wares there, and you can find some great deals
As a fly fisherman, I can say that flies make a great gift! Most fishermen will try to have a well stocked box, especially at the beginning of the season, but flies wear out, get broken off, or stuck in trees. So, fishermen can always use more flies! You can be sure that your gift will be accepted with much gratitude.