I’m asked quite often what flies I use and recommend. After 40+ days on our last fly fishing road trip, I thought I’d provide a list of my nine favorite dry flies which were successful for us in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Madison River Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

This is a subject I seem to write about quite often after returning from a fly fishing road trip. Here are a few posts you might be interested in reading again:

Our trip this year began earlier than normal. We arrived on the Madison River, MT in mid-June. Normally, our arrival is during the first week in July. For the rivers we fish, a couple of weeks can make a tremendous difference.

Many of our trips in previous years found us fishing in August, which means we mainly fish terrestrials, including ants, beetles, hoppers.

2021 has been a very different year. With the hotter temperatures and lack of water, we had problems finding rising fish. Don’t get me wrong, our Brown Drake and Green Drake fishing on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, ID was outstanding.

One of the staple fly patterns in my fly box is Beetle Bailey. I used it on the Madison River because the PMD hatches I was expecting didn’t happen. I found blind casting around the rocks because of higher water than normal was effective.

Madison Rainbow with Beetle Bailey | www.johnkreft.com

Same with an ant pattern. My favorite this year was Arrick’s Parachute Ant.

Arrick's Parachute Ant | www.johnkreft.com

I can’t say enough about Arrick’s Parachute Ant. It’s a fly I found a few years ago and was one of the best searching fly patterns I used in Montana and Wyoming this year.

Yes, it’s a very simple fly, but boy does it work! This fly caught a lot of fish for me this year. If you review the posts from the Madison as well as rivers in Wyoming, you’ll find it listed.

Madison River Rainbow - Arrick's Parachute Ant | www.johnkreft.com

The next fly was a size 18 and 20 IOBO Humpy

Not much to this fly is there? But for some reason, trout really like it. They might think it imitates a small black Caddis. I really don’t know. It seems every time I wasn’t catching fish and my wife was, I’d ask what fly she was using. Invariably, the answer as “an IOBO”. Big trout move to this fly!

This is the fly in the corner of a nice Madison River Brown Trout.

Madison River Brown with IOBO | www.johnkreft.com

How about a couple of Green Drake imitations?

I found the Sparkle Dun Green Drake and Green Drake CDC Loop Wing Emerger worked the best.

I remarked in my Fly Fishing the Henry’s Fork Brown and Green Drake Hatches, there were SO many gulls swooping down to pick up Green Drakes off the water’s surface. This low-profile fly allowed me to extend a drift without gulls trying to eat it.

The Rainbow below took a Sparkle Dun.

Henry's Fork Rainbow with Green Drake Sparkle Dun | www.johnkreft.com

One of the reasons we return to the Madison River each year is for the Caddis hatch. Our three top Caddis patterns have been X Caddis, Iris Caddis, an Improved F Fly. This one ate the Iris Caddis.

Madison River Rainbow with Iris Caddis | www.johnkreft.com

And of course, the Sparkle Dun PMD and a Compara Spinner are our favorite flies to imitate these size 16 and 18 Mayflies. We just didn’t see that many mayflies on the water this year for some reason. I would blind cast a Compara Spinner, which seemed to be effective.

Here are the flies from this year’s fly fishing road trip.

I hope this helps you find your own effective dry fly patterns.

Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!

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