Dry fly fishing is one of the pleasures of fly fishing and it certainly works very well on the Yorkshire Dales rivers. With the abundant fly life, both aquatic and terrestrial, the fish are always looking up for the next offering. Dry flies need to have the correct silhouette, be the right size and float in the correct manner. Note that I didn't just say float. It is essential that a dry fly sits right: either on, or to varying degrees, in the surface. Below is a selection of the dry flies that I use most often, which will imitate a wide range of surface flies throughout the year.
General Dry Fly Imitations
These flies suggest a wide range of naturals without being specific to any particular fly. This is often your best approach unless you know what the fish are feeding on, fish see in them "what they want to see".
Klinkhamer Special £1.70
Invented by the brilliant Dutch flytyer and flyfisher Hans van Klinken. The Klinkhamer Special took the river fishing scene by storm when it burst onto the scene in the 1990's and it is still performing brilliantly today. A 'must have' dry fly on any northern rain-fed stream. It's a great search pattern but also works well when fish are rising during a hatch. Good also for grayling dry fly fishing, even in the middle of winter. Sizes 12 and 14.
Generic CDC £1.60
A fly invented and shown to me by my good friend Jeremy Lucas. Jeremy, one of England's most capped internationals, created this fly for fishing the Welsh Dee during the 2006 International River Fishing Competition. A simple, but very effective fly, which I have named "Generic CDC" as Jeremy didn't give it a name himself. I gave it that name as it really is a fly for every situation: it can imitate mayflies (olives or upwinged flies), sedges, terrestrials, stoneflies, etc. Size 16.
Black Klinkhamer £1.70
I have used the Black Klinkhamer for many years and it rarely lets me down. It suggests a wide range of black terrestrials and even works as a Hawthorn Fly imitation. With the abdomen below the surface it looks like a struggling terrestrial stuck in the surface film. It's a great search pattern through the summer months floated down foam lanes, in front of trees, under bushes, etc. It is also effective on lochs and lakes as a hatching midge/terrestrial imitation. Size 14.
A big fly with a bright pink wing, used as a dry fly when fishing the duo/New Zealand/Klink & Dink style. The wing aids sighting and the generous hackling aids floatation when fished with heavily weighted nymphs in fast water. Although used mainly as an indicator for the nymphs, the Pinkhamer takes its fair share of trout too... be ready for an aggressive take immediately after landing on the water! Size 14.
Deer Hair Emerger £1.70
A superb fly invented by Bob Wyatt and described in his books "Trout Hunting" and "What Trout Want". It can be used to imitate many naturals from terrestrials to hatching olives and sedges. A good search pattern and good when you've had other flies ignored or refused. Vary the size according to the water fished, i.e. in fast, turbulent water use a bigger size and on smooth glides use a smaller size. Apply floatant to the deer hair wing only and I usually wet the abdomen with a little saliva before casting so that it sits correctly in the surface film, half in, half out. Available in sizes 14, 16, and 18.
Dry Flies to Imitate Olives, Mayflies & Upwings
Possibly the most important group of flies for flyfishers, certainly early season. Newly hatched upwinged flies ride the surface waiting for their wings to harden before they can fly. It is during this period when they are vunerable and available to trout and grayling. There are many species which vary greatly in size and colour, hence the variety of imitations available. The spinner stage is also important, usually in the evening, when the female returns to lay her eggs.
Foam Dun £1.60
I started to use the Foam Dun in 2014 and I quickly became virtually a one fly angler when upwings were hatching such was its success! I was introduced to it by my Scottish friend Dave Downie who sang its praises. It is a fly which just looks right on the water and in my experience it is rarely refused, particularly when cast to feeding trout. A good fly, particularly for Large Dark Olives and March Browns early season during March, April and May - highly recommended. Sizes 15 and 17.
Jingler (March Brown) £1.60
The Jingler burst onto the scene a few years ago and is slowly gaining a reputation as one of THE dry flies to have in your fly box, especially early season when good upwing hatches are experienced. The Jingler can be tied to imitate a variety of upwing species, this is an imitation of the famous early season fly the March Brown (and Large Brook Duns later in the year). Jinglers are intentionally tied to be quite scruffy looking so don't be put off by its appearance. This is thought to be one of its key ingredients along with the two contrasting hackles. A great spring fly. Available in sizes 12 and 14
Evening Spinner £1.50
If you can see fish rising in the evening but no hatch, the fish are probably taking spent spinners. You can't see them as they lie flat in the surface film. Old imitations failed because they also lay flat in the surface film and we couldn't see them, or had solid wings which spun up the leader. This imitation is another Oliver Edwards creation, simply a traditionally dry fly with the hackle trimmed so the fly lies flush in the surface film, like the natural, while the remaining hackle above the hook is seen by the angler. The 'sighter' wing helps see the fly in fading light. Fish take this fly with gusto on warm evenings. Size 16
Paradun (Pale Watery) £1.70
A superb imitation of small, light coloured olives, which hatch from late spring to late autumn in abundance on the rivers throughout the country. It will imitate any of the small, pale, olives, including Pale Wateries, Spurwings and July duns. It can be devastatingly effective for rising grayling in early autumn. Available in sizes 18 and 20.
Paradun (Light Olive) £1.60
As the Pale Watery version but slightly bigger and darker to imitate other upwinged flies. Good throughout the entire season. Available in sizes 14, 16, and 18 to imitate all the light/medium coloured olives, e.g. Olive Upright, Spurwings, Medium Olive, etc.
Paradun (Dark Olive) £1.60
As the Light Olive version but darker again to imitate other upwinged flies, in particular the Large Dark Olive, which can hatch in big numbers early and late in the year. Available in sizes 14, 16, and 18 to imitate all the dark coloured olives throughout the season.
Paradun (March Brown) £1.50
A paradun tied to imitate the March Brown, False March Brown, Large Brook Dun, Turkey Brown, etc. Good early season on rivers with March Brown hatches and also in May when the Large Brook Dun (LBD) is hatching. The LBD is commonly mistaken for a March Brown, even by very good anglers, as they look almost identical. This fly will serve you well when any of the large, olive/brown bodied, speckled wing flies are about. Available in sizes 12 and 14.
Paradun (Yellow May) £1.50
From May into October the Yorkshire Dales rivers (and most rainfed throughout the UK) have good hatches of Yellow May Duns. These fairly large, sulphur yellow mayflies, will trickle off the river in ones and twos all day, rather than one concentrated hatch. This is good for the angler, as the trout are always on the lookout for the next one. Good for the beginner as they are easy to see on the water. Available in sizes 14, 16 and 18 to cover size variations between rivers and the male and female.
CDC Upwing £1.60
A similar fly to the CDC Olive but sparser and with the addition of tails and a body. Clearly an imitation of any small to medium olive it works throughout the season when there is a hatch. Due to its sparseness it doesn’t float as well as the CDC Olive, and that’s why I carry both. I use this fly on glides and less turbulent water than I would the CDC Olive, or if fishing to a rising fish (as opposed to searching) in faster water. This fly is rarely refused if presented well on a fine tippet. Available in sizes 17, 19 and 21.
CDC Olive £1.60
This simple CDC fly can be an outstanding dry fly fished through riffles, either searching, or to fish seen rising. It works throughout the trout season, but is at its best in the first half of the trout season when the olives are about. Don't be put off by the sparseness - therein lies the secret. Tied on the superb Tiemco 103BL hook. Size 17.
The Yellowhamer is another Oliver Edwards creation from his series of articles in Flyfishing and Flytying magazine. Tied in the "Klinkhamer" style it imitates the hatching Yellow May Dun. It is easy to see on the water and can be an absolute killer some days. A fly well worth having in your fly box as it seems to work when all else fails -
possibly because so few anglers bother to imitate the Yellow May Dun. Size 16
Jingler (Olive) £1.70
This is an olive version of the Jingler above. It is very good early season and this is meant to be an imitation of the earliest fly to hatch in numbers: the Large Dark Olive. Trout love this fly and take it without hesitation, it is a must-have fly to add to your fly box. A cracking spring fly - The Olive Jingler sizes 12 and 14.
Dry Flies to Imitate Caddis/Sedges
Known by some as Caddis and others as Sedges, they are one and the same very important group of flies to us flyfishers. With experience I have come to realise that trout love Caddis and will rarely pass on the opportunity to eat one at any time of day. All these imitations work well whether there is a Sedge/Caddis hatch or not.
CDC Caddis £1.50
An outstanding fly through summer, days and evenings. A fly I discovered in Croatia in 2009. The CDC Sedge is exceptional at bringing fish to the surface, even with low water and bright sun, but it needs to be floating high on the surface to work so change regularly to a dry one if it sits low or takes dry up. I can't praise this fly highly enough and guarantee it will work. Currently only available in size 14 - size 16 out of stock. Read what I said about the CDC Sedge on my blog
Retirer Sedge £1.70
Another adult sedge imitation, this time tied with deer hair and poly yarn, making it very buoyant and probably more importantly, easier to maintain, not requiring constant drying and pampering like CDC flies. These properties also make the Retirer Sedge suitable as a Duo/Trio dry fly. I've also had success with this fly fishing for wild trout on lakes and lochs, both as a dry fly and pulled skating across the top. Sizes 15, 17 and 19.
CDC & Elk £1.70
Having read about this fly in Bob Wyatt's books ("What Trout Want") I thought I'd tie up a few and give them a go. I have to report that results were instant and it gives my original CDC Sedge a run for its money, in fact there really is nothing between them. In Slovenia it is my go-to fly whenever a dry fly is called for and I would say that it is as close to 100% effective as is possible! Brilliant fly, available in sizes 15, 17 and 19.
Dry Flies to Imitate Midges, Smuts and Very Small Flies
Many of the flies that trout and grayling feed on are very small to minute. This is especially so on smooth glides and in foam lanes. An appropriately sized imitation is a must, otherwise, at best your fly will be ignored and at worst you will put fish down! It is not usually necessary when fishing so small to get the colour right or to have exactly the 'right' imitation as long as you are somewhere close with size.
Hackled 'F' Fly £1.50
An imitation of many small flies including midges and micro sedges. As the name suggests this fly is a variation of the 'F' Fly with a hackle. The hackle is trimmed off level with the hook shank so that it floats low in the surface film. An outstanding dry fly. Size 20.
'F' Fly (Black) £1.60
The 'F' Fly family of flies are now proven catchers of trout and grayling and the black version is probably the best of the lot. Imitates many different black flies that are so abundant everywhere. Size 18.
'F' Fly (Heron Herl) £1.60
This version of the F Fly imitates many insects that are encountered all year, e.g. caddis, upwings and midges. A good fly when fish are on small 'stuff' but you don't know what. A good general small dry fly that you can use anytime. Sizes 18 and 20.
'F' Fly (Olive) £1.60
As the other 'F' Flies but this time in olive for when an olive imitation is called for. Good during a hatch of upwings or as a micro sedge. Available in sizes 18 and 20.
'F' Fly (Aphid) £1.60
The aphid (Greenfly) is very common and available to the trout and grayling for a large part of the year. This imitation has served me well for a number of years now and I use it just about anytime that a very small fly is called for, regardless of whether they are taking aphids or not. It is particularly good for grayling. Size 20.
Grey Duster Para-midge £1.70
A superb fly that modernises the Grey Duster by tying it in the parachute style. This is a midge imitation that will also represent a wide range of other small flies that are so abundant throughout the year, from smuts to terrestrials. The neutral grey colouration will cover the complete spectrum of flies whatever the trout and grayling are feeding on. Size 18.
Dry Flies to Imitate Terrestrials
Terrestrials are a very important group of flies to trout and grayling and, therefore, flyfishers. Much of what trout and grayling eat falls from trees and bushes, or is blown off the land. Many terrestrials are poor fliers and are often blown/fall onto the water's surface where trout and grayling are only too willing to eat them.
Detached Body Daddy £1.50
Most anglers think of the Daddy Longlegs as a stillwater fly and so did I until my good friend Dave Southall showed me this pattern and more importantly how effective it can be. I wrote about the Daddy Longlegs on my blog and it still remains a firm favourite, especially on small streams. It is also highly effective on lakes and lochs, even when sunk and retrieved slowly. If you've not tried a Daddy imitation on rivers I urge you to try this one. And to give it a try on lakes in place of your old favourite.
Black Gnat £1.20
The black gnat imitates the natural of the same name and many other small black flies that appear throughout the season. This version is hackled the conventional way to sit high on the water, though, the hackle can be trimmed to a 'V' or horizontal if you require it to sit lower. No fly-fisher should be without a few Black Gnat imitations - nothing gets the trout going like a fall of Black Gnats! Size 18.
Hawthorn Fly £1.50
There are many Hawthorn Fly imitations available but this one has served my well for years. I once watched it tied at a flytying demo and was immediately impressed by its realistic looks. A fly so realistic and light you just know trout will devour it. It is also very useful on lakes and lochs, and it will suffice as an imitation of the very similar Heather Fly. By far the best Hawthorn/Heather Fly imitation I know. Read about it in more detail on my blog. Size 17.
Floatant For Your Dry Flies & Sinkant Paste For Your Tippet
Tiemco Dry Magic £8.95
Tiemco only make quality products and are best known for their superb range of hooks and flytying tools. Tiemco Dry Magic fly floatant is no exception and after years of searching for a suitable and effective floatant for my CDC flies this is it. "Dry Magic" is a very apt name: it comes out of the tube looking like any other gel floatant, but when you rub it between your fingers to apply to your dry fly it feels dry - weird! It can be applied to all dry flies, but is best reserved for your CDC flies. Being a 'dry' floatant it will not clog CDC flies, keeps them floating longer and makes them easier to dry after releasing a fish. It's not cheap, but you do get a lot (12ml - enough to last years) and although not a perfect fit it will sit safely in your inverted floatant bottle holder. You don't buy floatants often so buy the best!
Dry Sauce £6.95
Having tried a multitude of dry fly floatants over many years I have settled on Dry Sauce from Fulling Mill as my favourite for flies other than CDC dries. You only need the smallest amount, which should be rubbed between your fingers, before applying sparingly to your fly. The bottle is a standard size and can be hung from a bottle holder on your waistcoat.
Fullers Mud £3.55
There are many degreasing/sinkant pastes available but this Fuller's Mud formula is the best I've used by far. When fishing dry fly on smooth water (river or lake) it is essential that the tippet does not sit high on the surface or fish will likely be spooked. Likewise, if our tippet is shiny (which most are) it will glint and reflect light which also has the potential to scare fish. Fullers Mud is a dual action paste which degreases the tippet so that it breaks the surface tension and is also very slightly abrasive to remove excess shine. This small tub fits easily in your waistcoat pocket but will last all season and probably much longer. Also good when fishing nymphs and wets - degreasing your leader means your leader/flies cut through the surface and sink quicker to the fishing zone.
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