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Best Fall Fly Patterns for Trout

Best Fall Fly Patterns for Trout

September 26, 2023

John Parisi

TCO Fly Shop Retail Sales Associate

Relentless Fly Fishing Guide

Best Fall Fly Patterns for Trout Collection
Best Fall Fly Patterns For Trout

Best Fall Fly Patterns For Trout

Dry Fly Patterns
Streamer Patterns
Nymph Patterns

What are the Best Fall Fly Patterns?

Although most people think of trout fishing as taking place in the spring, the fall months can present trout fishing opportunities that rival spring conditions. Excellent streamer fishing opportunities open up as trout bulk and become more territorial prior to the winter months. Plus, fall hosts its own share of insect hatches that are worth getting out on the water for. See what TCO Bryn Mawr Employee and Relentless Fly Fishing guide John Parisi advises filling your fly box with before you hit the water this Fall season.

Now that fall is here it’s a great time to go through your fly selection and take inventory of what you need as the temperatures start to drop.  There are a lot of changes taking place in our rivers this time of year. Our terrestrial insects are dying off, water temperatures are dropping, brown trout are spawning, there is a lack of heavy insect hatches, and there is an abundance of baitfish, just to name a few. Due to this, it is important to reevaluate your fly patterns and adapt to the changes in our waters. My nymph selection won’t change much, but I do bring a much larger variety of streamers out with me, and I always bring a condensed assortment of dries as well. 

Let's dive into each pattern type and see what the best fall fly patterns are for trout.

Best Dry Fly Patterns for Fall

 Fall doesn't have the same prolific insect hatches as Spring, but there are still dry fly opportunities throughout the fall that you want to be prepared for. Ants and beetles are especially effective in the beginning of fall, and they stick around until we get a solid frost. They work great in lower flows blind fished through a pool. It’s also a good idea to have some larger terrestrials for dry/dropper fishing as well. A small chubby chernobyl makes a perfect indicator fly on many of our local Pennsylvania streams.  As far as aquatic bugs, blue winged olives, midges, caddis, and iso’s will have you covered in most situations. I’ve had some heavy Blue Winged Olive hatches in October if it’s overcast or drizzly. The fall broods are smaller than the springtime olives, so I tie them anywhere from size 18 down to 22. The caddis hatches are a bit sporadic but worth trying if you see any splashy rises. 

Here are some of my top dry fly patterns for fall:

Sparkle Dun Olive

Para Ant Black or Cinnamon

Hi-Vis Black Foam Beetle

RS2 Olive

EC Caddis Tan


Best Streamer Fly Patterns for Fall

 " The fall presents opportunities to target large trout as they seek to bulk up and keep their territory free from unwanted visitors. "

With the lack of aquatic bugs hatching, trout start to look for other high protein foods items. Sculpins, darters, leeches, and crayfish all start to become a larger portion of their diet. Our brown trout are fall spawners so they can get a little territorial as well. Due to this, the fall presents opportunities to target large trout as they seek to bulk up for the winter months and keep their territory free from unwanted visitors. 

A colored up Fall Brown Trout.

Streamer fishing can be great year round, however, fishing a streamer through the fall months can be especially rewarding. I usually put streamers into two separate categories, either small jig/nymph style streamers or larger articulated streamers. The jig/nymph style can be fished in a variety of ways with almost any size fly rod. I tie them from 1-3” long with a tungsten bead or cone for weight. They are the most versatile because they can be stripped in, dead drifted, or even fished with a euro nymphing setup. Larger articulated streamers like game changers need at least a 5 weight rod or larger to fish them well, and often perform best with a sinking rod. I usually save these for larger rivers or high muddy water, perfect for targeting trophy sized fish. 

Best Jig/Nymph Style Streamer Patterns for Fall:

Weiss UV Jig Streamer

Goodspeed Mini Crayfish Jig

GD’s Sculp Snack

Croston’s Micro Rabbit Sculpin Natural or Olive

Smokeshow Minnow Olive or Tan

Larger Streamer Patterns for Fall

Bank Robber Sculpin  Gray | Olive

Mini Drunk and Disorderly Chartreuse & White | Orange & Olive | Olive & Gold | Grizzly | White

Game Changers 

Best Nymph Patterns for Fall

Although Fall is an excellent time to move big trout to a large streamer, you are going to want to be prepared with a variety of nymph patterns as well. Nymphs make up a large portion of a trout's diet year round, so you should be well equipped with some confidence nymph patterns any time you're trout fishing. Euro nymphing remains a highly effective method of fishing into the fall and winter months.

If you're looking for more information on euro nymphing, be sure to read our blog on What is Euro Nymphing by Frank Landis.

I always carry plenty of blue winged olive and midge imitations throughout the year, and that doesn’t change in the fall. Little bwo’s can hatch in big numbers on overcast drizzly days and trout will feed heavily on emerging nymphs as the hatch gets started. If I see any adult bwo’s on the surface, I’ll fish a pair of small thread body nymphs until trout start looking up. Zebra midges and small perdigons are some of my favorites in low water. I lean towards thin profile flies in clear water, size 16-20 seems to be the sweet spot. If we get some heavy rain and the visibility is bad, I’m less concerned with “matching the hatch” so I’ll fish brighter nymphs with hotspots like a sexy walts worm or blowtorch. Stonefly nymphs work great in higher flows or larger rivers, they also live for multiple seasons so they are always on the stream bottom in various sizes.  Our spring creeks have plenty of scuds/cress bugs that are active year-round and can be a day saver if there’s not many bugs hatching.

Here are some of my top nymph patterns for fall: 

Zebra Midge Red | Black | Olive

Weiss BP Light | Dark

CDC Red Tag

BH Pheasant Tail

Espresso Midge Claret Black

Hot Rib Walts  Tan | Cream | Gray | Olive


Shop our Best Fall Fly Patterns for Trout Collection


Fall is a great time to get out on the water. You get spring like conditions without the crowds and pressure, and fish are focused on bulking up prior to the winter months.

Which of these fly patterns are you excited to try out this fall season?


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John Parisi

John Parisi

TCO Bryn Mawr Retail Sales Associate and Relentless Fly Fishing Guide

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