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How Many Flies Do You Lose Per Day? Our Thoughts

Losing flies is just part of fly fishing. Whether it be on the bottom, in a tree, or a big fish – we all lose plenty of flies. When you’re first starting out, you’ll lose more flies since your technique will be worse. Bad casting paired with not being able to read water – can mean more flies lost.

As anglers improve, we tend to lose less flies. This is because our technique gets better and we make less mistakes. We start casting better, and we learn to read water. When our presentations improve, we tend to lose less flies.

Depending on the style of fly fishing you’re doing, you can expect to lose between 1-12 flies per outing. Some days you’ll lose more, and some days less.

This article will cover how many flies you can expect to lose when fly fishing. Obviously, the answer is different when it comes to different fly fishing tactics. Your mileage may vary depending on your fishing style and what species you’re targeting.

These are just averages, but hopefully it gives you a better idea on how many flies to stock up on. They do get expensive, but you can work on building your collection over time. It often takes awhile before we feel like we have enough flies. We really never have enough, because we are always losing them! That’s just how it works. This is why I like to tie a lot of my own flies, because I can usually save some money.

Losing Flies When Nymphing

Nymphing is the #1 enemy when it comes to losing flies. Since nymphs are subsurface flies, we are bouncing them off the bottom and over debris. You can get snagged on rocks, branches, and logs. If you aren’t sure how deep a run is, it can make it hard to determine how deep to nymph. This is often when we will fish too deep, and end up getting snagged on the bottom.

Sometimes you can un-snag your flies, but a lot of times they will break off. Here in Colorado, you can fish up to 3 nymphs at once. If you lose an entire nymph rig, you are out 3 flies. This can add up quickly over the course of the day. Some anglers like to only fish 2 fly rigs, because it’s less expensive if you break off.

Another factor is tippet sizing. If you’re fishing really light tippet such as 6x, it is easier to lose more flies. Since 6x is only about 3 lb test, it can snap pretty easily. If you are nymphing with 2x or 3x tippet, you can usually un-snag your flies pretty easily. Tippet sizing will vary based on water clarity, fly size, and the size of fish you’re targeting.

In general, you can expect to lose 6-12 nymph flies throughout a day of nymph fishing. Sometimes you’ll lose less than this, and sometimes you’ll lose even more. If you don’t want to lose many flies, then nymphing isn’t the best choice! However, nymphing is usually the most effective way to catch trout.

Losing Flies When Dry Fly Fishing

We lose less flies when we’re dry fly fishing. Since dry flies float, you don’t have to worry about underwater snags. However, you can still get them stuck in trees, bushes, etc.

Usually when you lose a dry fly, it is because a trout breaks your tippet. This often happens when fighting larger fish, as they are strong enough to break your tippet. You will also lose a few in trees, bushes, and logs due to bad casting.

Dry fly fishers tend to lose less flies than nymphers. It is easier to preserve a dry fly box than a nymph fly box.

In general, you can expect to lose 2-6 dry flies throughout a day of fishing. However, there are plenty of days where you won’t lose any!

Losing Flies When Streamer Fishing

When streamer fishing, we don’t lose that many flies. This is because you can fish really heavy tippet, such as 0x and 1x. Since these tippets are hard to break, you’ll usually get your streamer back if you get it snagged. Streamers get expensive, and we don’t want to start losing them left and right. 0x tippet is usually 15 lb test, and 1x tippet is about 13 lb test. Some folks fish even heavier, using straight 20 lb tippet.

Trout that eat streamers aren’t concerned with tippet size. If they are going to viciously attack a streamer pattern, they aren’t inspecting too much.

With this being said, you will still lose some streamers. If you really get your fly snagged, sometimes the tippet will break and you’ll lose the streamer. This is especially true for log jams. If you get caught on wood, that streamer is probably going to be lost.

In general, you can expect to lose 1-4 streamers throughout the course of the day. Although somedays we won’t lose any.


As you can see, the amount of flies you lose really depends on many factors. If you can improve your technique and not be sloppy, you’ll definitely lose less flies. Streamer junkies will lose less flies, while nymphers will lose a lot more.

Fishing heavier tippet will always help with losing less flies. However, sometimes we have to fish light tippet in order to get bites.

If you lose a lot of flies, don’t worry too much. It is just part of fly fishing!