When it comes to trout in stillwater (which is the fancy term fly fishermen use for lakes) I often use flies. Sometimes I do cast and retrieve with them. Other times I will troll with flies.
On many days flies are the most effective lure I use for trout.
When many people think fly fishing they think of dry fly fishing with really small flies that are almost identical to the insects they are based on. In that scenario the flies are imitative and the closer you get to the original, often the more catching you will do.
In stillwater however the most successful flies are fished under the surface (which is where the trout mostly eat) and the flies are suggestive. Meaning that the fly suggests that it may be a variety of common food sources – such as nymphs, leaches, and small bait fish. The realism in the fly is based more on it’s action – which is imparted by the fisherman, rather than by the fly itself.
A common element to see in stillwater flies is soft flowing material like marabou, which will provide movement in the water to give the illusion the fly is alive.
All that said here are my favorite fly patterns for stillwater trout.
On the top row from left to right the flies are:
And on the bottom row:
These patterns can be tied in a variety of sizes and colors. I find that often the smaller sizes, 10-14, can be extremely effective. Black and olive are very typical colors (as you can tell by the photo), but sometimes white, pink, red, or a mixture of colors can be the ticket.
However if I could only take one fly to the lake it would likely be an Olive Willy in size 12…