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Top Fishing Patterns

The Best Fishing Flies to Use for Bream

28 May 2024

Bream, also known as bluegill, sunfish, or panfish, are a favorite target for anglers of all skill levels. These fish are abundant, fight hard for their size, and are willing to take a variety of flies. Whether you're a beginner looking to catch your first fish on a fly rod or an experienced angler seeking a fun and relaxing day on the water, bream are a great choice. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the best fishing flies to use for bream. We'll delve into the history of each fly, discuss which fish they attract, provide tips on how to fish them, and suggest the best equipment to use.

1. Pheasant Tail Nymph

History: The Pheasant Tail Nymph, created by Frank Sawyer in the 1950s, is a classic fly pattern that has stood the test of time. Originally designed to imitate mayfly nymphs, it has proven effective for a wide range of fish species, including bream.

Fish Attraction: Bream are highly responsive to the Pheasant Tail Nymph due to its lifelike appearance and movement. This fly imitates the small aquatic insects that bream feed on, making it an excellent choice for targeting these fish.

How to Fish It: The Pheasant Tail Nymph can be fished using various nymphing techniques. It works well as a dropper fly beneath a dry fly or on its own under an indicator. Allow it to drift naturally with occasional twitches to mimic movement.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for fishing the Pheasant Tail Nymph. Use a 9-foot leader with a 4X or 5X tippet for a delicate presentation.

2. Woolly Bugger

History: The Woolly Bugger is one of the most versatile and effective flies ever created. Its origins can be traced back to the 1960s when it was developed by Russell Blessing in Pennsylvania. This fly was designed to imitate a variety of prey, including leeches, baitfish, and nymphs.

Fish Attraction: Bream are highly responsive to the Woolly Bugger due to its lifelike undulating motion in the water. This fly can imitate anything from a fleeing baitfish to a swimming leech, making it a go-to pattern for bream anglers.

How to Fish It: The Woolly Bugger can be fished using various techniques. You can strip it in with short, jerky motions to mimic a fleeing baitfish or let it drift naturally in the current. Slow, steady retrieves often work best when targeting bream.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for fishing the Woolly Bugger. Use a 9-foot tapered leader with a 4X or 5X tippet for the best presentation.

3. Foam Spider

History: The Foam Spider is a modern fly pattern that has gained popularity among bream anglers. Its buoyant design and realistic appearance make it an excellent choice for imitating small insects that bream feed on the surface.

Fish Attraction: Bream are known for their willingness to take surface flies, and the Foam Spider's lifelike profile and movement make it an irresistible target. This fly mimics spiders, ants, and other terrestrial insects that often fall into the water.

How to Fish It: The Foam Spider should be fished on the surface, creating a subtle wake as it moves through the water. Cast near structure or vegetation and retrieve with short, gentle strips to mimic a struggling insect. Vary the speed and intensity of your retrieves to see what triggers the most strikes.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for fishing the Foam Spider. Use a shorter leader, around 7.5 feet, with a 4X or 5X tippet to ensure a strong connection to the fly.

4. Elk Hair Caddis

History: The Elk Hair Caddis, developed by Al Troth in the 1950s, is a popular dry fly pattern. Its buoyant design and realistic appearance make it an excellent choice for imitating adult caddisflies.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to the Elk Hair Caddis due to its lifelike appearance and movement. This fly's buoyancy and lifelike silhouette attract bream looking for an easy meal on the water's surface.

How to Fish It: Fish the Elk Hair Caddis on the surface using a dead-drift technique. Cast upstream and let the fly float naturally downstream. If you see bream rising but ignoring your fly, try giving it a slight twitch to imitate a struggling caddis.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for dry fly fishing. Use a 9-foot leader tapered to 4X or 5X for the best presentation.

5. Brim Killer

History: The Brim Killer is a classic wet fly pattern that has been used by anglers for many years. Its lifelike profile and movement make it an effective choice for targeting bream.

Fish Attraction: Bream are highly responsive to the Brim Killer due to its realistic appearance and movement. This fly imitates small insects and other aquatic prey, making it an irresistible target for bream.

How to Fish It: The Brim Killer can be fished using various wet fly techniques. Cast near structure or vegetation and retrieve with short, gentle strips to mimic a struggling insect. Vary the speed and intensity of your retrieves to see what triggers the most strikes.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for fishing the Brim Killer. Use a 9-foot leader with a 4X or 5X tippet for a delicate presentation.

6. Griffith's Gnat

History: The Griffith's Gnat, developed by George Griffith in the 1940s, is a simple and effective dry fly pattern. Its design mimics small clusters of midges, making it a valuable addition to any fly box.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to the Griffith's Gnat due to its lifelike imitation of midge clusters. This fly is particularly effective when bream are feeding on small insects on the water's surface.

How to Fish It: Fish the Griffith's Gnat on the surface using a dead-drift technique. Cast upstream and let the fly float naturally downstream. If you see bream rising but ignoring your fly, try giving it a slight twitch to imitate a struggling insect.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for delicate presentations. Use a 9-foot leader tapered to 5X or 6X for the best presentation.

7. San Juan Worm

History: The San Juan Worm is a simple yet highly effective fly pattern that has been used for decades. Named after the San Juan River in New Mexico, this fly mimics the natural worms that bream feed on.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to the San Juan Worm due to its lifelike appearance and movement. This fly is particularly effective in murky or stained water where visibility is limited.

How to Fish It: The San Juan Worm can be fished using various nymphing techniques. It works well as a dropper fly or on its own under an indicator. Ensure a natural drift and occasionally give the fly small twitches to mimic movement.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for nymphing. Use a 9-foot leader with a 4X or 5X tippet for a subtle presentation.

8. Bluegill Bully

History: The Bluegill Bully is a modern fly pattern designed specifically for targeting bream. Its lifelike profile and movement make it an effective choice for anglers looking to catch bluegill and other sunfish species.

Fish Attraction: Bream are highly responsive to the Bluegill Bully due to its realistic appearance and movement. This fly mimics small insects and other aquatic prey, making it an irresistible target for bream.

How to Fish It: The Bluegill Bully can be fished using various techniques. Cast near structure or vegetation and retrieve with short, gentle strips to mimic a struggling insect. Vary the speed and intensity of your retrieves to see what triggers the most strikes.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for fishing the Bluegill Bully. Use a 9-foot leader with a 4X or 5X tippet for a delicate presentation.

9. Foam Ant

History: The Foam Ant is a modern fly pattern that has gained popularity among bream anglers. Its buoyant design and realistic appearance make it an excellent choice for imitating small ants that bream feed on the surface.

Fish Attraction: Bream are known for their willingness to take surface flies, and the Foam Ant's lifelike profile and movement make it an irresistible target. This fly mimics ants and other terrestrial insects that often fall into the water.

How to Fish It: The Foam Ant should be fished on the surface, creating a subtle wake as it moves through the water. Cast near structure or vegetation and retrieve with short, gentle strips to mimic a struggling insect. Vary the speed and intensity of your retrieves to see what triggers the most strikes.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for fishing the Foam Ant. Use a shorter leader, around 7.5 feet, with a 4X or 5X tippet to ensure a strong connection to the fly.

10. Humpy

History: The Humpy, created by Jack Horner in the 1940s, is a classic dry fly pattern. Its buoyant design and realistic appearance make it an excellent choice for imitating a variety of insects.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to the Humpy due to its lifelike appearance and movement. This fly's buoyancy and lifelike silhouette attract bream looking for an easy meal on the water's surface.

How to Fish It: Fish the Humpy on the surface using a dead-drift technique. Cast upstream and let the fly float naturally downstream. If you see bream rising but ignoring your fly, try giving it a slight twitch to imitate a struggling insect.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for dry fly fishing. Use a 9-foot leader tapered to 4X or 5X for the best presentation.

11. Zebra Midge

History: The Zebra Midge, developed by Ted Welling in the 1990s, is a simple yet highly effective fly pattern. Its minimalist design and effectiveness in various conditions have made it a popular choice among anglers.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to the Zebra Midge due to its imitation of midge larvae. This fly is particularly effective when bream are feeding on small insects.

How to Fish It: The Zebra Midge can be fished using various nymphing techniques. It works well as a dropper fly or under an indicator. Ensure a natural drift and occasionally give the fly small twitches to mimic movement.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for nymphing. Use a 9-foot leader with a 5X or 6X tippet for a subtle presentation.

12. Gurgler

History: The Gurgler, created by Jack Gartside in the 1980s, is a versatile topwater fly pattern. Its buoyant design and realistic movement make it an excellent choice for targeting bream on the surface.

Fish Attraction: Bream are drawn to the Gurgler's lifelike popping and splashing action. This fly imitates struggling prey, drawing aggressive strikes from bream.

How to Fish It: The Gurgler should be fished on the surface, creating a popping sound and splash to attract bream. Cast near structure or vegetation and retrieve with short, sharp strips to create the desired popping action. Vary the speed and intensity of your retrieves to see what triggers the most strikes.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for fishing the Gurgler. Use a shorter leader, around 7.5 feet, with a 4X or 5X tippet to ensure a strong connection to the fly.

13. Hare's Ear Nymph

History: The Hare's Ear Nymph is one of the oldest and most effective fly patterns. Its origins can be traced back to the early 1800s in England. The fly's natural appearance and versatility have made it a staple in fly boxes around the world.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to the Hare's Ear Nymph due to its lifelike appearance, which mimics a variety of aquatic insects. This fly is especially effective when bream are feeding heavily on nymphs.

How to Fish It: The Hare's Ear Nymph can be fished using various nymphing techniques. It works well as a dropper fly or on its own under an indicator. Ensure a natural drift by mending the line and occasionally giving the fly small twitches.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for fishing the Hare's Ear Nymph. Use a 9-foot leader with a 5X tippet for a subtle presentation.

14. Soft Hackle

History: Soft hackle flies have been used by anglers for centuries. These simple yet effective patterns mimic a variety of aquatic insects and are known for their versatility.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to soft hackle flies due to their lifelike movement in the water. These flies are particularly effective when bream are feeding on emergers and nymphs.

How to Fish It: Soft hackle flies can be fished using various techniques. They work well as a dropper fly or on their own under an indicator. Ensure a natural drift and occasionally give the fly small twitches to mimic movement.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for fishing soft hackle flies. Use a 9-foot leader with a 5X tippet for a subtle presentation.

15. Prince Nymph

History: The Prince Nymph, created by Doug Prince in the 1940s, is a highly effective attractor pattern. Its flashy design and movement in the water make it a favorite among anglers.

Fish Attraction: Bream are attracted to the Prince Nymph due to its lifelike appearance and movement. This fly imitates a variety of aquatic insects, making it an irresistible target for bream.

How to Fish It: The Prince Nymph can be fished using various nymphing techniques. It works well as a dropper fly or under an indicator. Ensure a natural drift and occasionally give the fly small twitches to mimic movement.

Equipment: A 7 to 8-foot 3-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line is ideal for fishing the Prince Nymph. Use a 9-foot leader with a 4X or 5X tippet for a subtle presentation.

Fly fishing for bream can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you use the right flies. Each of these patterns has a rich history and has proven to be effective in attracting bream. By understanding their origins, how to fish them, and the appropriate equipment to use, you can enhance your bream fishing experience. So, pack your fly box with these top bream fishing flies and enjoy the thrill of targeting one of the most popular panfish in North America.

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