The hike is long and arduous as beaded sweat drips off the hat’s brim.

After a chug of water and a deep breath, the walk continues on.  The destination is near, a headwater tributary to a stocked trout stream.  We are miles away from the nearest hatchery-reared fish and the thoughts of colorful native brookies have brought the anticipation to a fever pitch. The only question that remains is what fly to use, so here is a list of seven favorites!

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Parachute Adams

The name of the game in the backcountry is a fly that floats high and looks appealing to fish.  Enter the Parachute Adams, one of the most storied patterns in the sport. If forced to pick one dry fly to use in the backcountry for the rest of time you could do a heck of a lot worse than this one!

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Squirmy Worm

Go far enough into the Pennsylvania backcountry and a majority of the fish will be native brook trout.  Fish in these streams aren’t usually the pickiest, so fly selection doesn’t need to be exact. The squirmy worm is often the perfect choice for these mountain waters!  It’s effective to run them underneath a larger dry or as a single nymph with a pinch of weight added.

CDC Pheasant Tail

This is a favorite dropper no matter which dry fly it’s trailing behind.  An array of CDC PTs from sizes #12-#20 should accompany folks into the PA backcountry.  Its effectiveness and versatility are matched by few other flies that make up a fly fisher’s repertoire.

Flying Ant

In the summer months, when most backcountry fishing occurs, few flies match the productivity of the flying ant.  This fly perfectly matches the terrestrials that are often buzzing about along mountain streams in Pennsylvania. Using them in a little bigger size also allows for a dropper to be used to maximize our efficiency!

Brook trout and wild browns will patrol pocket water for either bugs falling into the water or nymphs getting tossed into the current. Casting from downstream of the pool, target the areas where the fast current meets the slow moving slack water and minimize your drag on the surface by lifting your line up off the water.
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Zebra Midge

Let’s say against all odds, the Pennsylvania backcountry trout are being a bit snooty about fly offerings.  The zebra midge is an outstanding pattern for these situations! It has a slender body and weight at the head to give it a quick sink, something that’s vitally important for these steep waters.

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This is one of the most famous attractor patterns across the country, and thus it should adorn the fly boxes of backcountry anglers in PA.  It rides high and catches fish, imitating everything from hoppers to stoneflies. Adding some rubber legs can be a nice touch to make it even more irresistible to high mountain trout.

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Chubby Chernobyl

Few, if any, dry flies ride higher in pocket water than the “Chubby.”  It should be carried in a variety of colors and sizes to suit any situation.  Using one in olive or light yellow can do a good job at mimicking green drakes, while a dark olive or orange option can match hoppers.

Long hikes into the backcountry makes lightweight gear paramount.  It’s not necessary to drag along boxes upon boxes of flies, so long as the patterns, we do take will catch fish.  If our boxes carry the flies mentioned above, success can be assured!

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