First and foremost Entomology is the study of bugs. You will hear some fisherman throw this term around mainly to sound smart. I usually just call it "bugs I fish with". As with most things and this article the topic can go very deep and be overwhelming. Just walk into any fly shop and shout the word "Entomology" and you will get what I am talking about. The bottom line is this, fish eat bugs (primarily) and so you must know something about bugs in order to catch more fish. Simple as that.
Type 1: Nymphs
Now some of you who are reading a beginner blog may already be up in arms about this. Not all flies go through a nymph stage. Some go through a larval stage and then directly into a fly after metamorphosis, but then again some things we call flies aren't even flies. So for the sake of this article the term Nymph means "any insect that we try to imitate under the water". There are a ton of different types and sizes of nymphs, the important thing to remember is that most fish eat the majority of their diet under water. Now everyone loves to see a fish come to the surface and smash a giant hopper (hence the name of this blog) but the fact of the matter is nine times out of ten you will catch a lot more fish under the surface. Nymphs are generally smaller and look like all sorts of different bugs that float along in the water. If you want to take a good look at some, flip over any rock in your local stream. It may take a bit for your eyes to focus but after a short time you will see the rock teeming with life. These are what fly fisherman call Nymphs. The best thing to do is take a look under the rock and get a general idea of the size of Nymph, then reach into your fly box and get something that looks close to the size. Generally, when you are starting off you will have less flies available to you so just grab the correct size and have at it. Latter on you will be able to detect the abundance of one particular nymph over another and match the size and type exactly. I've been at this over a year and I am just barely getting to be able to tell the difference, so take it slow.
Type 2: Emerger or wet flies.
Emerger isn't even a real word, but that doesn't stop us fly fishermen. This isn't really a stage of an insect but what happens is when say a Caddis fly hatches out of its cocoon after it's larva state it has to get out of the water to fly. So it swims/floats/flounders it's way to the top of the water. From there it will take off and head directly for your face to bug you. Emergers or wet flies are fished just below or half on and half off the surface. They can look like the scenario I said above or they can be various other bugs that are crippled and couldn't make it out of the water. The best thing to remember when fishing an emerger is that a lot of times the strike will come when you are taking the fly out of the water. This is because as the fly goes towards the surface it looks more and more like it should and your chances of the fly being hit increase dramatically.
Type 3: Dry Flies
The grand daddy of fly types. This is like the holy grail of fishing. Everyone wants to throw down a perfect cast that just barely taps the water as it lands and then is promptly hammered by a giant trout. These are meant to imitate flies or bugs that have either fallen into the water or land on the water for a drink. The Caddis fly for instance will tend to hop along the water even in fast moving currents. I have literally no idea why they do this other than to taunt the trout. Maybe they all just hang around daring each other or something bit it makes little to no logical sense. Because of this some of the best hits I have had was when I would let the fly swing past me and then "skeet" it along the top of the water while stripping the line back in. The dry fly category includes terrestrial flies. These are bugs that generally want nothing to do with the water but ended up there anyways. Bugs like grass hoppers, crickets, beetles, ants, gnats, etc etc. These are extremely fun to fish when the fish are hitting them.
In the coming days I will give some examples of how to cast and fish these different sets of flies, as well as go over some advanced rigs that you can fish to increase your odds, so stay tuned!