Small stream fishing has become incredibly popular in contemporary fly fishing. Small streams are easier to access, more prevalent throughout the US, and offer anglers a chance to get away from the crowds and find solitude. The scenery can be beautiful, you don't need a ton of gear, and the fishing can be great. Targeting native trout in small streams is an easy way to relax without having to worry about catching the largest fish or carrying 3 fly boxes.

That being said, outings on small streams will be more productive if you have the right gear. If you're looking for a fly rod for small streams, we've covered that here. Choosing the right fly reel for small streams and fly line for small streams is important, too. Those posts, combined with the best flies for small streams, should make your next small stream outing your best one yet.



The Stimulator is a great dry fly for Cutthroat Trout, Brook Trout, and just about any hungry small stream fish. This isn't a technical pattern, but it works well for backcountry fish who have never seen a fly.

Royal Wulff

Similarly, the Royal Wulff is another attractor pattern that is productive on small streams. This fly has a smaller profile and works better for fish eating smaller bugs or fish that are being slightly more selective.

Elk Hair Caddis

Caddis flies hatch in droves across the US and this may be the most common dry fly in any angler's box. These flies are productive in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles.

Purple Haze

The Purple Haze is a pattern that's been around for a long time. The parachute makes this fly highly visible and a great mayfly imitation for small streams.

Wooly Bugger

One of the most classic streamer patterns of all time, a Wooly Bugger imitates a sculpin, leech, and a variety of other small baitfish.

Hare's Ear

The Hare's Ear is a great Stonefly/Caddis nymph. If small stream fish are feeding under the surface, this pattern works well as a dropper or a single nymph.

Morrish Hopper

The Morrish Hopper is a must-have for small streams in the western US. In August and September, hoppers land on the water and trout ambush them from undercut banks. These foam flies are also perfect for hopper/dropper rigs.

Pheasant Tail

A mayfly imitation is also worth carrying when fishing small streams. The PT is a classic pattern that imitates a variety of small mayflies and comes in different sizes and weights (Tungsten, Bead Head, etc.).

Prince Nymph

Because attractor patterns are the name of the game on small streams, the Prince Nymph is another productive pattern.

Jigged Caddis Larva

This is a great pattern to roll across the bottom or fish as a single nymph. The jig-style barbless hook is ideal for small, native fish and quick catch-and-release fishing.

Partridge and Orange

As an honorable mention, we threw in the Partridge and Orange. Having a soft hackle on small streams can be a difference maker and this is a simple pattern that's great for native fish. Plus, it's an easy pattern to tie.


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