As it comes towards the back end of the trout season, trout are starting to feed up before the colder temperatures start rolling in. During this feeding up process, you can rest assured the trout will be honing in on the abundance of pin fry that becomes present in our lochs.

In this article, we will be looking at our go-to flies and setups for this month and explaining how we target these ravenous fry feeders.

The best trout flies to use in September are pin fry imitations, such as nymphs and buzzers. Using methods such as the washing line will allow you to target fish that are actively hunting just below the surface and around structured areas. Early September will still see plenty of daddy long legs on the surface, so remember to carry a few daddy variations to cover all topwater options.

rainbow trout

Methodical Approach

At this time of year, the fish could be anywhere in the water column depending on the conditions.

As a general starting point, starting high in the water with a floating line then working your way down through the water column is a great way to fish with a more methodical approach and utilise your fishing time more efficiently.

A great option to start with is the washing line method; it’s a quick way to find out if the trout are close to the surface. If this proves unsuccessful try working your way down through the water column by changing lines and counting your flies down until you find the depth the fish are holding at.

Through The Layers

With the trout predominantly preying on pin fry and the water temperatures still being mild, we want to first look for any surface activity. Trout can usually be seen crashing into shoals of pin fry in a crazed feeding frenzy. The first method we want to use to target these active trout is the washing line method.

The washing line method allows us to target fry feeders effectively in the upper layers of water with a near static approach. This provides an easy meal for the marauding trout.

Washing Line Tactics

We like to put on a bright visible fly on the point of the leader, like a candyman booby. Accompany this setup with either 2 nymphs or buzzers on the droppers. The dropper flies provide you with a good pin fry imitation and will allow us to target trout with a ‘match the hatch’ approach just beneath the surface.


The candyman booby will provide the buoyancy we require to keep the droppers suspended just below the surface and will allow us to target the first foot of the water column very effectively.

The booby will also provide us with a visual attractor. Not only do the bright vibrant colours stand out but the flash from the tinsel body of the booby provides a silver shimmer, associated with pin fry.

A trout that fell for the booby on the washing line.

If you’re targeting the upper layers of the water, we recommended floating or midge tip fly lines. The floating lines will allow you to present your flies in the first foot of water whereas the midge tip lines will allow you to target 2-6ft below the surface.

Washing Line Leader Material

We recommend fishing with a 9lb breaking strain copolymer leader material. The copolymer leader provides you with a slower sinking material in comparison to fluorocarbon which is a much denser material and is likely to sink a lot quicker.



We can also add a larger fly like a Cormorant as our top dropper, this allows us to mix and match with fly profiles to see if the trout are targeting a specifically sized bait. The Cormorant acts as another attractor and is a great fly for both coloured and clear water conditions as the black profile stands out extremely well.

Recommended Flies

Leader Material

If you find the fish are down a bit deeper in the water try a fluorocarbon leader as it will cut through the surface film and will sink a lot quicker and it will also give you a better presentation due to its low visibility properties. Opt for a 9lb breaking strain leader when fishing deep, it will provide enough stiffness in the leader to minimise tangles when presenting flies in deeper water.

Washing Line Retrieves

When it comes to retrieves there is no set one that will catch all the time. It is always best to vary the retrieve each cast to see what retrieve is working best on that given day.

A general rule of thumb with any washing line method is to work it as slow as possible. However, varying the retrieve throughout the cast is also a great way to provoke a strike. Anything from a slow figure of eight to short fast strips can be highly effective. If you have hang markers on your DI fly lines you can use them to your advantage, often hanging your flies around the 10ft mark can sometimes lead to a few bonus fish.

figure of 8

Dry Fly Tactics

September will still see the daddy long legs active around most lochs and there are a few go-to patterns that we recommend.

You can target surface feeders with a single dry presentation or a team of dry flies. If you’re new to fly fishing or are not the most competent of casters, start out with a single dry fly presentation and hone your skills before fishing a team of dries.

If the fish are active on the surface and there is a wave on the water. Go for a larger profiled dry fly like a daddy long legs. The Daddy long legs with its larger profile will stand out better and will also have the ability to break through the surface film easier and will be far easier for a trout to hone in on.


If there is a slight ripple on the water or you’re faced with flat calm conditions, opt for a smaller dry on the point like a shuttlecock CDC pattern. More often than not a more finesse presentation is required in calmer conditions.

Recommended Flies

TOP TIP: Scale it down…

At the back end of the season, fish have pretty much seen every fly in an angler’s fly box and getting positive takes can sometimes prove difficult. Fish will often follow the fly and if they do decide to take it they reject it just as quick as they engulf it. One way to eliminate this and increase more positive hookups is to scale down the size of your fly.


With synthetic fly tying materials improving every year you can easily change your brighter harsher blob and booby patterns into a small bite-sized snack.

Areas to focus on…

At this time of year, trout will be actively patrolling structure looking for pin fry. Look for areas such as dam walls, shallow bays with weed beds and jetties. These features provide sanctuary and safety and are great holding areas for prey fish. Target these areas with floating lines or midge tip lines.

Other areas to focus on are sharp drop-offs as they offer the ideal ambush points for trout to pick off an easy meal. Using the washing line method with a DI3, DI5 or DI7 line will give you the ability to cover various depths and pick out the areas that the trout are holding in.

Brad Gair – Scottish Youth International