Summer means dry-droppers for many anglers across the country, and the allure of the productivity found with nymphs paired with the action of a dry fly is the perfect combination.
Most trout fishers have a wide array of both dry flies and nymphs in neatly assorted rows in multiple fly boxes. At times the situation calls for multiple sub-surface patterns under an indicator, or simply one dry fly meant to match a specific hatch. That strategy shifts as we get into the dog days of summer and the mood shifts more towards terrestrials, midges, and attractor patterns. In order to maximize fish catching potential, many opt for dry-dropper rigs while they fish for trout. Here are a few favorite combos to consider the next time you head out!
Parachute Hopper - Rainbow Warrior
Everyone wants to fish hoppers during the summertime, and for good reason! There’s nothing like watching a nice trout come up and slurp a large parachute dry fly that it thinks is a grasshopper. This fly is also a great choice to be in a dry-dropper rig since it floats great and can handle larger nymphs. Trout love to snack on Rainbow Warriors all year long. They’re perfect to use the day after a rainstorm when streams might be a little off-color for a brief few hours early in the morning. The little shimmer these flies give off can catch the interest of nearby trout even with limited visibility.
Yellow Sally - Zebra Midge
Yellow Sallys are one of the more consistent summer bugs to use for trout, specifically in the West. Freestone streams are teeming with them, and it provides a great opportunity to fish a mid-season hatch after some of the more famous ones have tapered off. As summer wears on, the bug life in trout streams starts to wane a little. One of the few insects to keep rolling on through the year is the midge, so there are few better dropper choices than the Zebra Midge. It will sink fast, a key component of a nymph in the dry-dropper setup, and since it comes in a variety of colors anglers can perfectly match it to their home streams and the midges that hatch in it!
Parachute Flying Ant - Z-Wing Caddis
July marks the start of peak terrestrial season, meaning anglers need to be armed with all sorts of bugs to imitate them. Of all the choices out there, the Parachute Flying Ant is one of the best and most prevalent, making it a must-have for your summer dry-dropper rigs. As mayflies start to taper off in June, caddis are one of the few insects to continue hatching into July and August. The Z-Wing Caddis is an extremely productive fly and matches perfectly with the flying ant. This setup allows anglers to hit on both the terrestrial action and natural bug life that makes up a majority of the summer trout’s diet.
Parachute Red Quill - Juju Baetis
The red quill is one of the more overlooked hatches of the summer, possibly since it comes during the peak of hopper season when many would rather fish giant foam dry flies over little mayflies. Trout, however, are sometimes far more willing to eat these smaller mayflies as opposed to large terrestrials, making the Parachute Red Quill a must-have and a perfect dry fly to use in the dry-dropper rig. Since the dry is a little smaller, the nymph trailing behind should be on the small side as well. The Juju Baetis catches fish all year long, regardless of what is hatching. When it’s fished in faster water it will look like an emerging bug, and the slow water allows it to sink and be worked in lower water columns where fish are typically feeding through the heat of the day.
Dry-dropper fishing provides a unique opportunity to pair the effectiveness of nymphing with the excitement of throwing dries. It’s the perfect way to cover water during the summer months and take advantage of hungry trout looking to pack on the pounds before the weather starts to cool again. Since the number of potential fly pairings can be overwhelming, this group is a fantastic place to start and can provide enough action to make any angler a believer in the power of dry-dropper rigs!