This is a list of my top 10 dry flies for trout. Regional fishery differences and angler preferences will be inevitable but these are 10 patterns that you’ll want have in your fly vest anywhere you angle for trout.
1~Chubby Chernobyl~ This foam and dubbed body stone fly/hopper/attractor has become a favorite among guides and anglers for good reason. Trout love them! A few strands of Krystal Flash for tails, a simple dubbed body of antron topped with a foam body and double antron down wing with front and rear rubber legs tied in X- style. Size #6-14.
2~Elk Hair Caddis~Created by Al Troth from Dillon Montana to represent the adult Caddis. Possibly the most popular dry fly known to fly fishers it’s an effective pattern when adult Caddis are present or not. A slender dubbed body of antron with badger or grizzly hackle palmered forward and counter wrapped with fine wire to reinforce the hackle. Stacked elk hair is tied in to form the down wing. Common sizes you’ll want to have in your fly box are #12-22.
3~Royal Wulff~ The creation of fly fishing legend Lee Wulff this classic attractor sports a split white calf tail up wing that provides excellent visibility. A short tail of deer or elk is followed by twisted peacock herl a red floss mid-abdomen wrapped with silver rib and another segment of peacock. A thorax of badger hackle is wrapped tightly in between the upright split wings forward for floatation. Popular sizes are #10-20
4~Parachute Adams~The original Thorax style tie was created by Leonard Halladay to imitate the Mayflies he found on his Traverse City Michigan streams. The parachute version of this May fly imitation with hackle fiber or moose hair tails, a grey tapered dubbed abdomen and a white calf tail wing for increased visibility. Grizzly and Badger hackle wrapped parachute style around the wing post for added floatation in rough water. Most used sizes are #-10-22
5~Royal Trude~The down wing version of a Royal Wulff. Pretty much identical except for tails from the neck of a Golden Pheasant. Abdomen tied in with for and aft segments of twisted peacock herl bisected with red floss wrapped with a silver rib. Several turns of badger hackle tied in at the thorax for floatation. Sizes most used are #-10-18
6~ Madam X~Doug Swisher was originally hesitant on revealing this stone fly/ grasshopper attractor pattern as it was so effective at bringing trout to the surface. The original was assembled almost entirely of deer hair. A clump of stacked deer hair tied in as tails and then spiral wrapped up the hook shank to form the abdomen. A second bunch of deer hair is tied in laying forward, then reversed back over itself to form the bullet head. A pair of rubber legs tied in X-style at the thorax represent legs and add extra movement. Common sizes#6-14.
7~Stimulator~Creator Randall Kaufmann came up with this pattern to imitate adult stone flies found on many of his western home waters. It utilizes elk hair tails, a dubbed tapered abdomen, palmered badger hackle counter wrapped with wire. An elk hair wing tied in down-wing followed by a section of twisted peacock herl or other color of dubbing. This is then palmered with grizzly hackle to the head. Common sizes #6-18.
-8~Sparkle Dun~A slight variation from the original, The Comparadun, invented by famous Pennsylvania chalk stream angler and author Vince Marinaro. The original used split fiber tails while the Sparkle Dun version utilizes Antron tied in as a trailing shuck to represent the nymphal shuck still attached during the emergent stage. A simple dubbed tapered body of Antron, color to match the May Fly hatching. An upright wing of deer hair splayed across the abdomen perpendicular to the hook shank in a fan shape. I prefer a slightly larger wing as this has more visibility and triggers more strikes. The most common sizes are # 14-20.
9~Black Magic~An effective surface searching pattern when summer stones are present. This tie uses an abdomen of black foam tied onto the hook shank wrapped forward in a segmented style. A single down wing of white calf tail provides excellent visibility. Finished with two sets of orange and black banded rubber legs tied in X-style at the thorax. Popular sizes #6-14.
10~Brook’s Sprout Emerger~Bob Brooks is credited with coming up with this may fly emerger. A tail of antron and mallard flank are used as tails and a trailing nymph shuck to represent its vulnerable emergent stage A slender abdomen of goose biot dyed to match color of hatching insect is wrapped forward over the hook shank to represent a segmented abdomen. Its effectiveness comes from its design in having the abdomen and thorax remain under the film while the parachute style hackle is wrapped around a small single foam tuft for floatation. Sizes#12-20.
I know there are a lot of great dry fly patterns on the market today. This is a list of my “go-to” patterns that work most days. The number of variations is almost endless, let this be a general guide.
You might also like to check out our Top 12 Nymph Flies for Catching Trout for our top-producing sub-surface patterns.
If you’re new to fly tying and would like to learn how to get started check out this article on “Choosing the best fly tying starter kit.”