Changing Your Flies Color on the River = Match the Hatch

This post was last updated on January 9th, 2014 at 04:36 pm

Permanent Markers to color your trout flies
Here I have a set of 24 Infinity brand markers. These costed much less than sharpies and are pretty high quality. The colors will stay on the flies well.

How to Increase your Catch By Carrying a Set of Permanent Markers with you on the River

This is something that not a lot of people have thought of, but it works really well. If you are on the river and don’t have flies in every color and size fear not! By carrying a stash of permanent markers you can change the color of nearly any fly to match the hatch perfectly. I have been using these trout fishing tips for years with great success. If you have ever witnessed a trout following under your fly for several feet trying to decide if it’s going to eat it, your fly most likely needs to be customized! Even by adding a simple set of eyes to the bottom of the fly can often trigger the strikes from finicky trout. When the fish are coming an inch away from your fly to examine it, you could easily modify it to their liking with little effort. Sometimes just adding a little more of one color to the bottom, or adding a few stripes will be enough.

What if the fish are eating a weird green mayfly that you don’t have in your box? Pull out the green marker and any light colored fly that is the right size to color up!


  • Carry several lighter colored flies such as white millers or white foam chernobyl ants/hoppers: These will be easy to get your custom paint job to show up well. You won’t be able to take a dark colored trout fly and change its color.
  • Allow the marker to dry for a few minutes on the flies: This will make the custom coloring stay on your flies much better.

Coloring your Trout Flies

Coloring a White hairwing wolf fly to the color of a green drake.
This fly is now a great representation of a green drake pattern,

Here you can see I have transformed a white hair wing wolf fly into a green drake. I used a little grey in the wings along with some green. This should easily convince trout feeding on green drakes to eat a fly they would otherwise not touch without the custom marker paintjob.


Just carrying a couple key colors with you in your vest could make for a very prepared fly fisherman. I would carry yellow, green, black and brown at a minimum. These will allow you to match most insects easily. They take up very little space in your vest and can be worth their weight in gold on the river.