I fish many stream systems and will admit that my fishing will typically focus on small streams. This means that my dry fly fishing will target some small stream fish, eager to eat large morsels! Dry fly fishing small streams is a blast.

Here are my favorite dry flies for chasing big trout early in the Spring season.

Black Elk Hair/CDC Caddis

If you have read any of my previous articles on dry fly fishing, then you already know how much I love Elk Hair and CDC Caddis patterns. This time of year, I catch a great number of surface sipping fish on black or dark brown pattern variations during hatches. I like the Elk Hair Caddis for when I need a high riding fly to make it through changing currents and foam lines, and I prefer the CDC when I need a slightly lower riding pattern that I can more easily sink and then dry with the flick of a wrist. Both are great patterns, I just choose one or the other situationally. 

Black X Caddis

The Black X Caddis is a variation of the Elk Hair Caddis, with a few slight improvements. The added materials incorporated into the Elk Hair Caddis give the fly a slightly different profile on the water. The wing splay is similar, but the “bugginess” of the pattern offers picky fish a different peek at the fly. I will bring a few of these along in the same colors and shades as the original Elk Hair and CDC Caddis’ above, for a little more variety.

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Parachute Adams

The classic Adams is a phenomenal pattern that has been the standard mayfly pattern for many for nearly a century. The Parachute Adams pattern is a higher riding and slightly less sinkable version. The Adams family of flies can mimic both Pale Morning Duns (PMD) as well as Blue Winged Olive’s (BWO), that only truly vary in size and color for our purposes as fly tyers. I like guiding clients with a Parachute Adams because I can offer them the option of a colored post on the fly, offering added visibility. If I fish a mayfly hatch in the early Spring, I definitely carry a few Parachute Adams with me as a staple pattern to catch fish!

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BWO

The Blue Winged Olive is a profile and pattern many around the industry consider the other standard in Mayfly hatch fly fishing. Although intended to mimic the BWO specifically, which is a smaller mayfly, often tinted in olive or green, it can be tied to mimic whatever hatches you regularly chase. These flies can be tied with a variety of patterns and in a variety of colors with the idea being that the thicker “body” of the fly may float ever so slightly better on the water’s surface. A great pattern to rival the Adams that you should definitely keep in your fly box this early Spring season!

Hendrickson

The Hendrickson mayfly is a wide profiled mayfly imitation that often imitated the PMD or Pale Morning Dun well. The PMD is a larger and lighter colored fly when compared to the BWO, and will often be targeted when the hatch is hot. The key is to have a few darker / smaller patterns to imitate the males, and a few larger / lighter ties to imitate the females. Typically, the fish will hone in on one or the other during a hatch. 

Parachute Midge 

A midge is a tiny fly to begin with. It is often very dark in color, which makes it very difficult to see when fishing a dry fly. The Parachute Midge provides an unsinkable aspect to traditional midge imitations. Using white or colored foam can enhance the anglers visibility of the fly, and prevent the fly from sinking. The fly can also then be tied with the majority of the body sitting lower in the film, adding a different presentation to the fish. It is a very useful fly this time of the season!

Griffith’s Gnat

The “king” of the tiny fly patterns, the Griffith’s Gnat imitates a cluster of midges like no other fly in my opinion. I catch fish on the Griffith’s Gnat at all hours, and is a good fly to have on when the haze of tiny flies is clouding your vision. I often pair this pattern with another midge pattern to cast at rising fish. I cannot see this fly as well as others, so I will often set the hook on a count after the rise in the same vicinity as my cast. The Griffith’s Gnat os am extremely useful fly that set the standard for midge fishing for sure!

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Stimulator

When I want to grab a trout’s attention, I reach for a stimulator! I love this fly as a go-to fly for imitating stoneflies, as well as terrestrials in some cases. I fish primarily olives, blacks, and browns myself. However, the pattern comes in a variety of colors. The Stimulator rides high and takes floatant well! Mends easily also!

Foam Beetle

Fishing terrestrials is a blast! I fish beetles anywhere near overhanging foliage or frees. The Foam Beetles I fish are sink proof and have just the right amount of flash to grab a hungry trout’s attention. A small splat on the water’s surface will add to the realism of a fallen terrestrial as well. Next time there is a slight wind, give a foam beetle a few casts, and hold on tight! 

Foam Ant

Not all terrestrials fish hone in on are large! The Foam Ant is a great pattern to use all Spring and Summer long! The ant is a viable forage source, and can be double rigged like the Griffith’s Gnat. Sometimes, when there is no apparent hatch and a touch of wind, I reach for my terrestrials. The Foam Ant has performed well for me many seasons back to back. Give one a try!

Here you have it! This is my 2020 list of favorite dry flies for fly fishing this early Spring season! I hope that a few of these can become some of yours as well! Tight lines!