From the Bibio to the Black Pennell, most fly fishers will know a few classic loch style fly patterns. But how do you fish them and which ones are the best to add to your fly collection? Here are some useful pointers and must have traditional wet flies to add to your list this summer! 

Long before the days of rainbow trout and water supply reservoirs, the mainstay of stillwater fly fishing in Britain and Ireland was on natural lakes. Places like the windswept lyns of Wales, Lake District tarns and the mighty lochs of Scotland captured the imagination and spawned dozens of timeless flies. 

While of the old favourites are all but forgotten, there are plenty that are still popular in the modern era. Even with all our innovations in fly fishing materials and tackle, there is a strong case to be made for “loch style” angling and classic patterns. So where do we start? 

What is loch style fly fishing? 

In simple terms loch style fly fishing refers to tackling wild, often large and windy lakes for trout. Due to the open, unforgiving nature of these environments, tactics and flies have adapted to suit. This is no place for short, light rods, for starters. Typical gear would be a 10ft rod of at least 6 weight class. 

By bank or boat, the angler will tend to be fishing a group of three or even four flies, and giving them plenty of movement! The breezier the weather, the more vigorously flies can be retrieved and the more aggressive the trout will often become. Indeed, these venues are not for the faint hearted and tactics are a world away from gentle buzzer fishing!   

What is a loch style fly? 

As for the actual flies, these tend to be fairly large, well hackled and often with a good dash of colour . This is for several reasons. First up, fish a large water with a fair ripple, and dainty flies tend to get a bit lost! Instead, well hackled flies with strong colours like black, red and even blue and silver, tend to be found more easily by the trout. 

The variations in fly patterns are endless and we’ll list some classics in a second. However, here are some good general rules to observe when fishing them:

       1. On wild lakes, be brave and embrace the conditions! A good breeze is often perfect for fishing- and will blow natural insects               into the water. Don’t be shy of taking on the breezy bits of a fishery, because the fish mind a lot less than the anglers! 

  1. Try a team of three flies for maximum impact. In this way you can mix different colours and patterns to see what the fish want. The fly at the very end of your leader is know as the “point fly”, while others can be presented on “droppers”. Wild fish are often not terribly line shy, especially in a breeze, so start with a minimum of 6lb leader and tippet strengths, only dropping in calmer conditions. 
  2. Retrieves are key, but the golden rule is to keep them lively! The more chop on the water, the more vigorous you can be- and a good pull will help you set the hook on sudden takes. Expect bites to be abrupt and often decisive. 
  3. One good trick is to fish a buoyant fly on your top dropper. This can act a little like a sight indicator, while you’ll also get fish smashing it right at the surface- and these are the most exciting takes of all! Be sure to apply floatant before fishing and again after catching a fish. 
  4. Of course, conditions won’t always be wild. If it’s calm, it’s worth trying smaller versions of the same classic patterns. Mixing up bushy loch style flies with subtle modern nymphs can also work a treat, as “attractor” style flies serve to pull curious fish nearer, before subtler nymphs seal the deal.

10 Classic Must Have Loch Style Flies! 


When it comes to classic wets and loch style flies it needn’t cost a fortune to stock up! Starting at just 55p each, we offer some of the best value traditional trout flies money can buy, featuring quality materials and sharp hooks at superb value. Here are ten of the best bushy wet fly patterns we wouldn’t be without! 



Black is an excellent fly colour for any natural water and this classic pattern combines a strong outline with a dash of colour in the tail.


Another all time favourite that combines several colours in one fly and an excellent, attractive profile. 


As with so many loch style flies, this one combines natural features such as wings alongside out and out stimulation, such as tinsel and bright “hot spots”.

BIBIO (£0.55)
Designed as a loose imitation of a drowned beetle, this is an excellent fly for terrestrial feeding trout on just about any wind swept lake. Also worth having right down to sizes 14 and 16 for smaller trout in acidic waters.
SEDGE HOG (£0.65)
A more modern fly for wild waters, this is a fabulous fly to provoke big hits on the surface. Use with a vigorous retrieve and expect brutal hits! Also ideal as your top dropper in a team of three or four flies.

GOAT’S TOE (£0.55) 

Subtle this fly isn’t! With plenty of presence and colour, it’s a perfect attractor style fly in your team, however, and another must have.

GRENADIER (£0.55)  
Taking its name from the bright coats of the Grenadier Guards, this is another loud fly pattern that the trout won’t miss easily. Excellent as a top or middle dropper.

SNATCHER (From £0.95)

Bright and busy, these flies have a bit of everything! So successful has the original blueprint been, that we now find over a dozen variants- such as bead heads to fish that bit deeper (pictured).



Another classic fly, combining proven colours to deadly effect.

 ZULU (£0.55)
Needs little introduction as one of the most famous loch style/ traditional wet flies of all time. Great as a top dropper pattern in standard or blue hackled (shown).