River Dry Flies


Dry fly fishing is one of the pleasures of fly fishing and much of the time it is THE most effective technique. Whether it be a fall of terrestrials or a hatch of aquatic flies, trout and grayling are constantly looking up for their next meal. Flies trapped in or on the surface are conspicuous, vulnerable and easy pickings for trout and grayling, hence why dry flies are so effective, even with nothing showing on the surface. Dry flies can be fished in all water types, from slow glides to the fastest of pocket water and pool necks. 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

Klinkhamer Special £2.15

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.

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Generic CDC

Generic CDC £2.15

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

Black Klinkhamer £2.15

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.


Pinkhamer £2.15

A Klinkhamer with a bright pink wing, used as a dry fly when fishing 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! It's also useful as a dry fly in its own right, fished late in the evening as the light fades (pink is far more visible in low light). Size 14.

Deer Hair Emerger

Deer Hair Emerger £2.15

The DHE - 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 12, 14, 16, and 18. (Size 12 is my go-to March Brown imitation in spring)

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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

Foam Dun £2.15

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.

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Jinglers: March Brown (left) & Olive (right)

Jingler £2.15

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, but is usually associated with early season hatches of March Browns and Large Dark Olives. It can also be used to imitate other species, such as Large Brook Duns (use March Brown) and Olive Uprights (use Olive). 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. Available in March Brown and Olive in sizes 12 and 14

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Mohican Mayfly

Mohican Mayfly £2.15

This Mayfly imitation is another very life-like fly from the vice of Oliver Edwards. It is probably the most realistic imitation of this iconic natural fly there is and fish show no hesitation when taking it. It is my go to pattern when fish are on Mayflies, which hatch from May onwards, usually peaking in June. I've caught trout on this pattern from North West Scotland to the chalkstreams of the south, including rivers in the Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria and North East England. A detached body fly available in sizes 12 and 14 to cover variations in size between the male and female.

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Paradun (Pale Watery)

Paradun (Pale Watery) £2.15

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.

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Paradun (Olive)

Paradun (Olive) £2.15

As the Pale Watery version but slightly darker to imitate other upwinged flies. Good throughout the entire season to imitate all the smaller olives, e.g. Large Dark Olive, Spurwings, Medium Olive, Olive Upright, Iron Blue, etc. Sizes 16 and 18.

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Little CDC Dun

Little CDC Dun £2.15

The Little CDC Dun is a slim offering with all the triggers to fool trout and grayling. It's a simple fly but has the perfect silhouette to imitate smaller olives, in particular the Large Dark Olive (size 16) and Blue Winged Olive (size 16 and 18), Iron Blue (size 18) and all the other small olives we encounter throughout the season. A dry fly to fool the biggest and pickiest trout on smooth water. Sizes 16 and 18.

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Hackled CDC Dun

Hackled CDC Dun (Ducks Dun) £2.15

This has become my go-to pattern when olives are hatching throughout the year. It will closely imitate any of the small to medium sized olives, but I find it particularly useful for the early season Large Dark Olive, the slightly later Olive Upright and Blue Winged Olive in summer. The basic design is typical of many modern CDC Duns, but this pattern is much improved with the addition of a hackle wound both sides of the CDC wing, which is trimmed below, in-line with the body. This not only improves floatation, it also imitates the legs of the natural dun on the surface. Not only is it a superb dun imitation, it does a fine job of imitating spinners - the trimmed hackle suggests the outstretched wings of the spent adult. Sizes 12, 14 and 16.

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CDC Upwing

CDC Upwing £2.15

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.

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CDC Olive

CDC Olive £2.15

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.


Yellowhamer £2.15

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 14.

Paradun (March Brown)

Paradun (Big Brown) £2.15

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 and even works as a Mayfly imitation. Size 12.

Evening Spinner

Evening Spinner £2.15

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 laid 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 hackled dry fly, with the hackle trimmed below the hook shank so the fly lies flush in the surface film, like the natural. The remaining hackle above the hook is seen by the angler. Fish take this fly with gusto on warm evenings. Size 16.

Egg Laying Spinner

Egg Laying Spinner £2.15

A similar fly to the Evening Spinner but with the addition of a bright green butt to imitate the egg ball of the returning female. Both imitations are useful in your box as they give slightly different profiles, which can make all the difference at this notoriously difficult time in the fishing calendar. Fishing the evening rise can be one of the most frustrating experiences for the fly-fisher - carrying a change of fly can save the day in many instances. Sizes 16 and 18

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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.

Retirer Sedge

Retirer Sedge £2.15

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.

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CDC & Elk

CDC & Elk £2.15

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.

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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.

'F' Fly (Black)

'F' Fly (Black) £2.15

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)

'F' Fly (Heron Herl) £2.15

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.

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'F' Fly (Olive)

'F' Fly (Olive) £2.15

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.

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'F' Fly (Aphid)

'F' Fly (Aphid) £2.15

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

Grey Duster Para-midge £2.15

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.

Procter’s Foam Beetle

Procter’s Foam Beetle £2.15

Beetles are a major food source for trout in rivers and lakes. Often they will fall onto the water in huge numbers and trout absolutely love them! Beetles will be encountered from April onwards and they often become trapped in the surface film. Trout are always on the lookout for beetles and other terrestrials and a well presented offering is rarely refused. This is Paul Procter's imitation and it's amongst the best there is. The body is tied from sparkly Straggle String which imitates the underside and legs of the natural. A foam back and head gives the typical beetle silhouette while helping it to float in the surface film. The added pink sighter helps to see your fly as it drifts. A killer pattern! Size 14.

Procter's APT

Procter's APT £2.15

Paul Procter has invented many effective flies and in my opinion the All Purpose Terrestrial (or APT) is his best and most effective. Paul is a good friend of mine and this is probably his personal favourite. As the name suggest it is a general imitation of many terrestrial flies that fall or get blown onto the water. It will convincingly imitate Hawthorn Flies, Black Gnats, Heather Flies, etc. A very effective pattern... if you carry just one terrestrial pattern then this should be it! Sizes 14, 16 and 18.

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Detached Body Daddy

Detached Body Daddy £2.15

Most anglers think of the Daddy Longlegs as a stillwater fly and so did I until my good friend Dave Southall showed me his Daddy Longlegs pattern and more importantly how effective it can be. I have used that fly ever since and it still remains a firm favourite, especially on small streams (and it is also highly effective on lakes and lochs). However, I often wished it would float better/longer, so I have now replaced the chenille used for the detached body with foam to achieve this. If you've not tried a Daddy imitation on rivers I urge you to try this one.

Black Gnat

Black Gnat £2.15

The black gnat imitates the natural of the same name and many other small black flies that appear throughout the season and fall onto the water. This is my new design, now with a parachute hackle, allowing the fly to sit low in the water, just like the naturals. There is a yellow, foam, sighter wing, making it easier to see on the water. No fly-fisher should be without a few Black Gnat imitations - nothing gets the trout going like a fall of Black Gnats! Sizes 16 and 18.

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Black Klinkhamer

Black Klinkhamer £2.15

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.

Dry Fly Essentials

Tapered Leaders

Tapered Leaders

Tapered Leaders for the perfect presentation of your dry flies.

Fly Floatant

Fly Floatant

Keep your dry flies floating with quality dry fly floatant.

Fullers Mud

Fullers Mud

Degreaser for your tippet.

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