Lure Selection for Fly Fishing

Muddler Minnows, Woolly Buggers, Surface Flies, or Poppers

These techniques help anglers choose the right lure to zero in on fish species.

When fishermen approach a new lake, pond, or river, they must decide what type of fly to use. Should they tie on an old favorite or rely on the advice of the local fishing report? Beginning by casting a Muddler Minnow can allow anglers to figure out what type of fish are biting and the best way to catch them.

Start with a Muddler Minnow

A Muddler Minnow is an all-around great fly. It doesn’t really resemble a minnow, but fish definitely think it’s food, and most bass and other panfish will strike it. One truly useful thing about the Muddler, though, is that it allows the angler to determine what is biting and where.


If largemouth or bluegill are hitting the Muddler when it is on the surface, switching to a popper may bring even more of these fun fighters around. Using a small popper brings in more fish, but even a small bass can completely swallow these, making the catch and release a difficult proposition. If bass are biting, it’s a good idea to switch to a bigger popper. A few little ones may be lost, but the big ones make up for it.


When crappie or smallmouth go for the Muddler when it is going deep, tying on a Woolly Bugger is a wise move. The angler can vary the rate and rhythm of the retrieve in order to keep the Wooly Bugger at the right depth. Pulling a Woolly Bugger sporadically across the current of a shallow river brings strikes when crappie and smallmouth are feeding. Woolly Bugger color does seem to matter, so if fish are not going for black buggers, they may bite green ones.

Surface Flies

If trout are biting Muddlers, the fisherman may just keep casting what works. However, trout fishermen are by nature perfectionists, so they might want to try to find an even better fly for the situation. Most avid trout anglers arrive equipped with a full selection of flies, and part of the game is finding the one that works best. For fly fishermen, the thrill of catching trout is even sweeter when those trout have been caught on a carefully considered and chosen fly. For those new to trout fishing, classic trout fly assortments are ready for purchase. Shoppers should look for collections that include Adams, nymphs, streamers, Royal Wulff, Cahill, and Caddis flies as well as Muddler Minnows and Woolly Buggers. These collections cost around $20 to $30.

Thoughtful Fly Choice Equals Fly Fishing Satisfaction

Although the old adage, “The worst day fishing is better than the best day working,” is often repeated by avid anglers, a good day fishing is a day when fish are caught. The best day fly fishing is a day when the angler knows that fish are caught because of the thoughtful choice of the best fly and presentation for the fish and the water.

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