When it comes to fly fishing, I find myself complicating things for no reason. I study the latest developments and catch myself wanting to buy the newest things. I’ve learned many times that this isn’t always necessary, but I’ve paid the price the most when it comes to my fly choices. I’ve learned to stick with the classics as much as I can; one of these classics happens to be the mop fly.

Mop Flies for Fly Fishing
Mop Flies for Fly Fishing

What is a Mop Fly?

A mop fly imitates a grub or insect larvae that you would find in a moist area on land or hatching in a body of water. The grubs or larvae are no more than an inch long. These flies are made out of old mops, rugs or other tough material laying around your house.

When to Use a Mop Fly?

Mop flies can be used any time during the fishing season. They’re extremely productive; especially during high water. The high water washes the larvae from the bank as well as the grubs and inch worms that are found during the warmer months.

However, if you’ve ever fished with a grub or small inch worm, you know that they’re irresistible. Fish are suckers for these patterns because of the strong imitation. This succulent looking fly is a must have in your fly box.

What Kind of Fish can You Catch with a Mop Fly?

The “mop” is used for panfish, trout and bass.  It is most used for trout and is fished like it’s smaller cousin the weenie.  I’ve been trying to entice carp with a mop fly, but they’re a finicky fish and the waters that I carp fish are pretty deep.

Guide Tip: Trout seem to love a mop fly after a good rain.  I image they look like a big juicy grub just waiting to be eaten. Here’s the tip tie on a mop after a rain.

How Do You Rig Up a Mop Fly and Fish It?

You can set up your mop fly rig just like you would a nymph. These patterns are less than an inch and are often tied with a beadhead. Your first step is to take a look at the water that you are fishing. How is the current? What do the fishy spots look like?

Setup a Fly Rod for Nymph Fishing
Setup a Fly Rod for Nymph Fishing

Guide Tip: Here are a couple articles on setting up a fly rod. Check out Setting up a Fly Rod from Reel to Fly and A Complete Guide to Stillwater Nymph Fly Fishing

Fast Current Setup and Tips – Using the “Mop”

If you’re fishing a faster current and know that you will need to be deep in the water column, you must be sure you’re using weight forward line. Weight forward line is easier to cast and has enough weight that it’ll drop to the bottom fairly quickly.

The next step is to determine the depth you want to fish at. Again, mop flies aren’t the size of streamers. They’re not too heavy so you may need to tie on a split shot to make sure it falls enough in the water column to bounce along the bottom.

Casting mop flies in fast current
Casting mop flies in fast current

Use 3x leader leader and 3 or 4x tippet when rigging the mop fly. Since they’re such a strong imitation of worms, they don’t necessarily require you to stay fully inconspicuous. Fish put on the blinders when they’re chasing this fly. They see it and they aren’t strong enough to resist the temptation.

When you’re fishing fast water, the perfect drift lane doesn’t last long. You’re going to find yourself making quite a few casts. A bit of a longer cast will allow for more time to reach the bottom.

Cast upstream and as the fly drifts closer to you, make sure that it is leading the charge. You don’t want your fly line dragging it downstream. You may have to mend your fly line upstream to make sure you have a natural looking drift.

As the fly drifts closer, strip in the slack and raise your rod tip. Once the fly is about eight feet from you, it’s entering the strike zone. Stay focused on your indicator and wait for a fish to strike. A quick raise of the rod tip is going to set the hook!

The Mop Fly in Slow Moving Water – Setup and Tips

The mop fly can be sight fished when you’re in slower moving, clear water. At this point, it’ll feel reminiscent to when you fished for sunfish or other panfish in your younger years. You’ll see fish come from all over the water to attack this fly.

If possible, find some riffles to start your drift. Cast into the riffles and let the fly drift into the slower moving water. Fish often sit right at the edge of the riffles and wait for food to float into the pools. The fish don’t have to work as hard when they sit in pools.

While it might be tempting to create quite a bit of action with this fly, you don’t have to create much movement. Mop flies are tied specifically so the “tail” waves and wiggles in the current. A dead drift with this fly is going to land the most fish. Let the fly do the work and wait for the fish to notice.

In slower moving water, you’re going to need to use a bit lighter tippet. The fish have more of an opportunity to study the fly and make sure it’s natural. Therefore, you may need to use 3x leader with 4x tippet. This is going to seclude you enough to allow the fish to take a look and still try and strike.

Make sure you have it tied under an indicator! Fish don’t always strike these flies with aggression so it’s important to be able to see those small little strikes.

You shouldn’t need to use any more than a 5-weight rod when using a mop fly. You never know what size fish you’re going to find! Fish of all sizes want to eat this fly.

Other Tips and Tricks for Using the Mop Fly

A great aspect of this fly is the versatility. Whether you’re fishing for carp, bass or trout, this fly is going to work! You can fish it in still water, streams and major rivers. Don’t ever underestimate the power of this fly! You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Something to think about using mop flies is weight. If you tie your own add a variety of beadheads and even a bit of lead under the body. Tungsten beads are a great option. Use a heavy mop fly as a point fly in a two fly step up. – Super Effective!


3 Favorite Mop Fly Patterns Used When Fly Fishing

1. The Mop Dragon

Mop Dragon Fly Picture Credit to Panfish on the Fly

The Mop Dragon is a great choice for panfish! Instead of a traditional beadhead, go ahead and use small dumbbell eyes. It looks like a small larva of a dragonfly. Sunfish, crappie and even bass love to take a swipe at this fly. If you’re fishing a coldwater stream, this is a good option for trout.

Bart and the guys over at Panfish on the Fly have written about plenty of mop flies. If you need EXPERT guidance on tying the Mop Dragon and the “Creature” check out below:

The Mop Dragon and The Creature <- Links to Panfish on the Fly


2. Mottlebou Mop Fly

mottlebou mop fly
mottlebou mop fly

The Mottlebou Mop fly is one of the better mop fly patterns on the market. The beauty of this pattern is that it can be found and tied in almost every color that you could desire. Some of my personal favorites happen to be the yellow, cream and pink.

If you’re interested in tying this fly, do so on a size 10 scud hook. Use a tungsten beadhead and white thread to secure it. The next choice is choosing what color of mop finger you would like to use. Whether it’s green, pink, tan or purple, take your pick!

The signature piece of this fly is the . You wrap this near the eye of the hook and as it gets wet, it’ll surround itself around the mop material.

Guide Tip: Use a size 8-12 hook when you tie this!


3. Traditional Mop Fly

traditional mop fly pattern
traditional mop fly pattern

The traditional mop fly pattern is very simple to tie! Use the microfiber locks that you can find on any sort of mop you purchase. You only need a few wraps of dubbing around the hook and you’re good to go.

The Final Cast with the Mop Fly

Some anglers consider mop flies to be unfair because they’re so productive. Pick any body of water and any species and this fly is going to work. This is a great option for anyone looking to get into the sport and wanting to see the tendencies of fish!


David Humphries at Guide Recommended

Hey David here the maker of Guide Recommended. I’m super passionate about everything fly fishing fishing; writing, teaching and even video.