Tips & Tricks

The dirtier dozen: 12 flies that will catch trout—and more—anywhere they swim

A number of weeks in the past, a buddy requested me which flies he ought to tie for the upcoming season. I thought of it for a couple of minutes, e-mailed him some potential decisions, after which remembered somewhat recreation I used to play with the annual Orvis Flies & Fly Tying catalog.

Orvis all the time had a ton of nice patterns of their catalog, and I’d sit down and attempt to choose my favourite fly from every web page. Typically it was a simple selection, and generally it was arduous, however it was a priceless psychological train as I attempted to transition from big information containers (with just about each trout fly identified to man) to a extra manageable, private fly assortment.

I’ve actually in the reduction of on the variety of patterns I carry as of late, and after considering it over, I made a decision it could be enjoyable — and possibly even helpful — to share some strategies about flies. Actually, I’d prefer to cross alongside my listing of twelve totally different commercially-available fly patterns that I need alongside regardless of the place I’m fishing within the Decrease 48 (and past).

Understand that these are freshwater flies, not salt, and that I’m taking pictures for versatility somewhat than specificity. I’ll additionally weight the assortment towards my private preferences, that are skewed towards the topwater facet of issues. With that in thoughts, have a look and see what you suppose.


There are a ton of nice streamer patterns on the market, however I’m solely going to select three. I need most versatility – flies that may work in transferring water or nonetheless, and that may take not solely trout, but in addition bass and pike.

Woolly Bugger
Let’s begin out with a fly the place you actually can’t go mistaken. Woolly Buggers are available in all totally different sizes and colours. Some are weighted and a few should not. Some have eyes, some have cones, some have a ton of flash, and a few, surprisingly, are old style, with no sparkle, no bead, and a fundamental whip-finished head. They’ll work for just about any species you resolve to focus on. My favorites are tied in black, with brass eyes, a mushy saddle hackle and a comparatively sparse marabou tail.


Decide Yer Pocket
This can be a steelhead fly that’s designed to showcase a big profile and create a ton of motion, however that’s additionally light-weight and simple to solid. Most people fish it solely for steelhead or salmon, however, tied in applicable sizes and colours, it should take trout and smallmouth all day lengthy. The wonderful thing about the Decide Yer Pocket is that you may fish it quick or sluggish, and shallow or deep. You possibly can even dead-drift it with wonderful success. Pink and orange are prime shade decisions for steelhead and salmon, whereas a brown/yellow combine works awfully nicely for trout.

Rabbit Strip Leech
This specific fly is as stable & reliable because it will get. It is going to take pike, bass, trout, steelhead, salmon, panfish … just about something that may eat a streamer will pound a Rabbit Strip Leech. I really like the motion — the rabbit seems nice within the water — in addition to the sturdiness of the fly. The one draw back is that they’re heavy after they’re moist. (You in all probability don’t wish to spend all day casting this specific fly along with your 4-weight.) My favourite shade for trout is black, whereas chartreuse is usually a sensible choice for pike.



Bead Head Caddis
After I fish with nymphs, I fish a easy Bead Head Caddis about 95% of the time. And by “easy,” I imply a tungsten or brass bead on a TMC 2487 hook, with a slim physique dubbed from TroutHunter’s Caddis-Emerger-Nymph dubbing. You possibly can hit the water with a choice of these in numerous colours and sizes, and, if there are trout to be caught, you’ll possible catch some. For a stable industrial tie, try the Orvis Bead Head Hare’s Ear. My go-to colours are olive, tan and gray.

Whereas I’m solely together with one nymph (I do know … that’s heresy for some of us) in my dozen, I’ll throw a bone to these of you who like to fish nymphs below an indicator. A small, darkish, weighted Woolly Bugger dead-drifted by means of the strike zone could be completely lethal. If I needed to guess, I’d say that trout and smallmouth will take it for a stonefly nymph, a leech, a crayfish, a hellgrammite, an injured minnow, or perhaps a cranefly. In any case, your Woolly Buggers can, and may, do double obligation right here. Brown works nicely, as does black.


Dry Flies

Parachute Adams
The previous standby nonetheless has a outstanding place in my listing of 12. It floats nicely, it’s simple to see, and it could imitate each a mayfly dun and a mayfly spinner. Gray is the plain shade selection, however don’t low cost olive or sulphur if there’s a particular native hatch you wish to mimic. (Oh, and for some cause, purple actually hammers cutthroat trout.)


Royal Trude
Numerous of us have gravitated towards the newer foam flies, and meaning the Trude doesn’t get the like it used to. That’s simply advantageous with me. Fish don’t see it as a lot, which implies it is much more efficient – particularly when the water is uneven or damaged. And there’s one thing about that “Royal” coloration — the greenish peacock herl separated by purple floss — that actually makes this fly a terrific attractor, whereas the white calf-tail wing helps the fly ‘pop’ on the water.


Fats Albert
The Fats Albert is my favourite of the varied low-floating, life like foam bugs. I do know some of us choose Chernobyls, or Chubby Chernobyls, however whereas these are stable decisions, they aren’t fairly as efficient the place the fish are choosy. The Fats Albert is a implausible hopper sample, and if you happen to go darkish and small, it’s a satisfactory beetle as nicely. My favourite colours are tan or black.

Sparkle Dun
This tried-and-true Craig Mathews & John Juracek sample does a terrific job of imitating rising mayflies which are struggling to flee from their nymphal shuck. Trout key on these bugs, which is why the Sparkle Dun continues to catch fish after fish after fish a long time after it first gained notoriety. You’ll wish to match the physique shade and the shuck to the native mayfly emergences.


Over the course of a yr, I’ll travel over whether or not I’d somewhat fish a LaFontaine Emergent Sparkle Pupa or a Mathews X-Caddis. As a rule, I’m going with the X-Caddis, in order that’s my selection right here. The X-Caddis floats nicely, blurs the road between attractor and imitation, and could be fished both lifeless drift, with the occasional twitch, or on the swing. This is likely one of the most versatile flies you should use, and also you all the time wish to have a couple of in gray, inexperienced and tan.


Clear Wing Spinner
When the fish are consuming spent mayflies, you want a spinner. They’re somewhat arduous to see on the water, however a dimension 16 Spinner with clear antron wings will take trout just about wherever you’re more likely to discover rising browns or rainbows. The prime shade is ‘rusty,’ however you’ll additionally need olive, sulphur and a few little black guys for the native Trico hatch.


Final Likelihood Cripple
My favourite mayfly sample is a slight variation of Rene` Harrop’s Final Likelihood Cripple, which is, itself, a derivation of a Quigley Cripple. The CDC wing and the submerged stomach are the piscatorial equal of ham & eggs – or possibly beer & hen wings. In any case, trout simply eat the dwelling bejeezus out of this specific fly. You’ll wish to match your dimension and shade to the native mayfly hatch.

The final sample in my field is all the time one of many ubiquitous stonefly ties. Salmonflies, Golden Stones, Skwalas, and all the varied & sundry giant stones deserve a giant, fluttering fly with a buoyant elk hair or foam physique, versatile rubber legs, and an elk hair wing. Some of us choose classics just like the Couch Pillow, some choose a rubber-legged Stimulator, and a few like a bullet-head sample with numerous foam. I don’t have a particular go-to sample to recommend right here — all of them work nicely at occasions — however I all the time have a handful of those over-sized dries alongside.


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