5 Dry Flies

~By: Lance Dean | February 5, 2017

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Favorite Dry Flies

Dry flies are flies that represent trout foods that sit on the surface of a given water.  Most dry flies are the adult forms of the insects they represent. Examples are Stoneflies, Caddisflies and Mayflies.  The tying of a dry fly can be extremely complex with extended foam bodies or pretty simple like the Adams which is essentially a tail and some hackle wrapped around a hook.  Watching a fish steal a dry fly from the surface can be some of the most enjoyable fishing a fly fisherman can experience.

Here is a list of five dry fly patterns that are in my fly box and that I have the most confidence in.

1.    Adams
2.    Elk Hair Caddis
3.    Humpy
4.    Royal Wulff
5.    Mugly Caddis


The Adams dry fly represents an adult mayfly and if tied small enough can represent an adult midge.  The Adams is not only the first dry fly I learned to tie it is also my favorite.  I have caught more fish with the Adams than any other dry fly.  It is easy to tie and it seems to catch rising fish consistently.  The Adams carries the same frame as many other dry flies and until a few years ago it was the only dry fly found in my fly box. To see the article I posted about the Traditional Adams Dry Fly go HERE.

Elk Hair Caddis

The Elk Hair Caddis as you probably guessed represents an adult Caddisfly.  It utilizes both elk hair and hackle to keep it on top of the water.  It’s a relatively easy fly to tie.  The hardest part of tying the Elk Hair Caddis is wrapping the wire rib around the body in such a way as to not pin down its hackle fibers.  The first time I fished with this pattern was on a two day camping trip where I lost track of how many fish I caught.  This is an excellent dry fly pattern. To see the article I posted about the Elk Hair Caddis go HERE.


This is another pattern that seems to float forever.  The combination of the elk hair hump, calf hair wings, and hackle keeps this fly high and dry. This pattern just seems to work. I use it regularly when I see trout rising and just want to catch trout on something besides an Adams.  The first time I fished the humpy, fish were not rising and they didn’t seem to be very interested in my nymph offerings so as a last ditch effort I figured why not try a Humpy and sure enough this enticed those picky fish up from the bottom.  Ever since then I have made sure to keep a dozen or so Humpies in my fly box.  To see the article I posted about the Humpy go HERE.




Royal Wulff

The Royal Wulff is a gorgeous attractor dry fly that was created by Lee Wulff.  Because it is an attractor pattern it doesn’t necessarily represent any insect; instead, it grabs the attention of a fish either by the way it looks (generally with some sort of flash) or by the action the fly fisherman gives it.  In the case of the Royal Wulff, the combination of the red floss and peacock herl makes it stand out to fish.  This is another great pattern that I have had success fishing.  



Mugly Caddis

I came across the Mugly Caddis while reading “Charlie’s Fly Box Signature Flies for Fresh and Salt Water” by Charlie Carven.  After reading the Mugly Caddis chapter I tied a few up and had the opputunity to fish them shortly after.  It may not be the classiest looking fly, but something about it just works.   In my opinion the only thing about it that represents a caddis is the elk hair wing.  Other than that it looks like a glob of dubbing wrapped around a hook shank and I guess in all actualality that is what it is. This glob of dubbing makes the fly look very buggy, which I feel has to be one of the biggest reasons this fly is so effective. 

These dry flies are my favorites. I am well aware that there are hundreds of dry flies in the fly fishing world.  Please share your favorites along with why in the comments section below.

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