Dry flies for trout lay at the heart of fly fishing. Dry fly designs for trout go back for centuries. For many of us fly fishing itself has a strong connection to fishing for trout in smaller streams, with a dry fly. Famous rivers like the Itchen and the Test in England and North American rivers like the Madison, Yellowstone, Harrison, Bow in the west and rivers like the Beaverkill in the East. All these river names conjure up images of quiet evenings when the warm weather stimulates hatches of thousands of insects, with trout feasting on them.
It is not always easy to match the hatch. Trout can be very specific. Not only in what type of insect they eat but also what state. Presentation becomes very important. Rather than trying to match a specific insect species very specifically and accurately a more generalised, impressionistic approach can be taken. This is a good way for the novice angler and for the traveling angler because it covers a lot of ground. Let’s have a look at 10 of the best dry flies for trout.
Dry Flies for Trout
#1 The Klinkhamer Special – Like most of the dry flies for trout on this list the Klinkhamer Special is a concept design. It was created by fellow dutchman Hans van Klinken. The wing is formed by creating a wing post and parachute style hackle. The hook is curved down so that the abdomen penetrates the surface film. This imitates the emerging state, where the nymph transforms into the imago. In fly fishing this group is called emergers and dunns.
The Klinkhamer Special can be tied in a variety of colours. White and black body is a good combination as are browns and greys.
#2 Elk Hair Caddis – This is a very simple design. Basically the Elk Hair Caddis is a dubbed body with a bunch of Elk hair tied on top. The Elk hair flairs a bit, creating the effect of a fluttering caddis fly. I have found it particularly good in smaller sizes in light tan colours. A great choice when small caddis flies are hatching.
#3 The Adams – This North American fly is a classic example of an impressionistic design. The tie is also classic with a tail, body and standard hackle. The grizzly hackle and brown/grey body create the impression of a fluttering adult insect. They can be tied in a range of sizes. The Adams dry fly is a great choice for when you are not sure what’s going on during the hatch or if the hatch is not happening.
#4 The Simulator – Another caddis imitator. Unlike the Elk Hair Caddis the Simulator works better in bigger sizes. The palmered body hackle makes this fly ride high which makes it great for active presentations that imitate egg-laying stages of caddis flies. In very big sizes with an orange body it is a good Salmon Fly imitation.
#5 Royal Wulff – This burley dry fly originated from the Coachman family of flies and was adapted and made popular by Lee Wulff. The combination of a heavy hackle in front and behind the wing, peacock herl body and deer or moose tail make this a very high floating design. With the red section in the body to attract trout this is a great searching pattern. In big sizes it can be used as a dry fly for Atlantic salmon or Steelhead. My first steelhead on the dry fly came from the Kispiox and was caught on a Royal Wulff dry fly.
#6 Blue Winged Olive – The BWO is one of my go to dry flies for trout. With it’s dunn hackle and olive body it imitates a wide range of aquatic insects. Most of them are quite small in this colour variation so keeping the fly small is a good idea. Hook size 16 and smaller.
#7 Griffith’s Gnat – in very small sizes this fly design imitates midge hatches. Size 20 and smaller. It is a great general dry flies for trout imitation for midge hatches.
#8 Foam Back Flies – Foam Back Flies are a great design for searching, when there is no hatch going on. They can be drifted against the bank to imitate terrestrials or they can be swung to imitate caddis flies. The high floatation makes this great searching dry flies for trout. In big sizes they are great for Steelhead dry flies. A wing post helps with visibility.
#9 The March Brown – Mayflies (Ephemerella genus) form a big group of aquatic insects and create some of the most significant hatches. The March Brown is a great general pattern that imitates a Mayfly. The Wood Duck wing and cream body give the fly the general appearance of a Mayfly. I like to tie them in a bit bigger sizes (hook size 14 – 10)
#10 No – hackle Midge – Midges are common in early spring and in winter. The floating thorax and popypropelene wing or CDC wing and dipped abdomen make this emerger type of design a good choice. Dry Flies for Trout, sizes 20 and smaller.