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Catch Trout All Across Canada by Imitating These 3 Delicious Insects

Big Three Bugs

Catch trout all across Canada by imitating their favourite food—mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies

Fulling Mill
Fulling Mill

Duns. Emergers. Sedges. Ephemeroptera. When it comes to the little aquatic insects that make up much of a trout’s diet, the terminology that fly anglers throw around can be pretty confusing. It’s doubly so if you’re new to fly (or trout) fishing and just trying to select the right fly to use. But to make a reasonable guess at what’s in the river, all you really need is a little knowledge about what the fish eat.

The three most common aquatic insects that trout—plus bass, carp, panfish and sometimes even walleye—love to munch are mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. Coming in a variety of sizes, colours and shapes, complete with complex life cycles, they’ve inspired literally thousands of effective imitations. My choices tend toward patterns that are more universal and generally imitative, with lifelike movement in the water. So with just a couple of fly boxes, I feel equipped to fish for trout almost anywhere in Canada. Here’s a thumbnail guide to the big three aquatic insects, along with choice imitations and strategies for making them appear lifelike.

Scott Gardner

Scott Gardner

Outdoor Canada associate editor and fly-fishing columnist Scott Gardner is happiest when he's on the water fishing (especially from his kayak) or just surrounded by trees, preferably out of cell phone range. Since joining Outdoor Canada in 2010, Scott has won nine National Communication Awards from the Outdoor Writers of Canada for his adventure travel and fly fishing articles, and been nominated for five National Magazine Awards.

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