5 Must-Have Dry Flies for Trout Fishing

Imagine watching a two foot long slab of wild rainbow trout slowly nosing it’s way to the surface before it opens its yap on the wrong stonefly. 

Dry fly fishing is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting method of trout fishing.  There’s no indicator, swivel, split shot etc. getting in the way, just a big chunk of foam or deer hair on the end of your line. 

Watching big rainbows crush dries is exhilarating, here’s 5 patterns you shouldn’t leave home without this summer.

Hot-Butt Caddis 

Fish love this fly in June when the caddis come off in huge numbers,  I vividly remember watching a guest raise fish on 8 straight casts using this pattern.  I fish this fly in sizes 10-14, generally dead drifted and always with either a hot pink, orange or red hot spot on the back end of the fly. This gives it a little bit of an edge when you have a million other natural caddis to compete with. 

California Blonde

 I was first introduced to this fly on the Thompson in July of 2011 when I would spend 3 or 4 days at a time camping there in dry fly season.  I had some good days and evenings, but I remember watching an older fellow really put the hammer down on some nice rainbows.  He waded down my way and handed off two olive California Blondes.  The next day was absolutely stellar.  This pattern is very visible, floats high and has the perfect profile of an adult stonefly (though I’ve also fished it in a caddis hatch and had success).  The only downfall is that it is tied fairly delicate which means you can’t pop it or skate it as aggressively as those built with foam. 

Chernobyl Ant

The Chernobyl Ant is a trout guide’s dream. Floats like a cork, versatile, you could tie it blind, and fish absolutely annihilate it.  The Chernobyl Ant rides somewhat low in the water, so foam indicator posts in either white or orange contrasted against a black top will make it show up a little better.  Fishing an orange Chernobyl in a stonefly hatch is incredibly exciting, added that you can strip this fly relentlessly which pushes a wake behind the fly as it flutters across the surface.  Chernobyls can be fished anywhere from size 12 to replicate small terrestrials to size 4 in a hatch of larger than life Salmonflies. 

Triple Decker/Club Sandwich

This is one fly that I swear by, but refuse to tie. It’s immaculately tied extended body is an excellent replicant of that of an adult stonefly or a hopper in smaller sizes.  One thing I love about this fly is the ability to pop or chug it across the surface.  To do this, stick your rod tip in the water and make abrupt 2-4″ strips which will cause the fly to push a large wake.  This fly is almost unsinkable and has taken some very large rainbows over the years. 


I saved this fly for last because it is absolutely dynamite.  In a good stonefly hatch, not much will outfish a well-tied Stimulator.  Fairly simple to tie, these flies ride quite high in the water and perfectly mimic an adult stonefly from the underside.  Many variants of the Stimulator have been tied (K’s Seducer, Sofa Pillow) and they all have their time and place.  Stimulators are fairly delicate which proves to be a downfall at times, as well as the fact they cannot be popped or skated without drowning them.  When big fish are going all out on stoneflies, a burnt orange or golden stimulator is always my first pick. 

NOTE: I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read this blog over the last few months since it started.  I’ve received a ton of great comments and emails, my main goal was to give people something somewhat entertaining to read over their morning coffee and maybe even take a thing or two away from it that may help them on the water.  Until the end of October, I will be busy guiding 7 days a week which will leave very little free time.  I will do my best to keep up with multiple posts a week, but they will be more sporadically spaced especially due to no cell service or wi-fi.  Again, thank you all and have a great summer!!  


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