How do you select the right dry fly to tie on the end of your leader? Here are a few tips to make the selection process a little easier the next time you’re at the river.

Let’s make it simple. You arrive at the river and it’s your lucky day, bugs are hatching. You were dreaming about this last night, anticipating your upcoming fishing trip. So let’s talk about selecting a dry fly.

Is it a mayfly with upright wings?

Caudatella Mayfly|

How about a caddis with tent-shaped wings?

Caddis |

Or perhaps a stonefly with fluttering wings over the body?

Salmonfly adult|

Notice I concentrated on the wings? That’s what fly fishers call “profile”. 

Need an imitation for a mayfly? Try a Sparkle Dun, a classic Adams, or a Parachute Adams.

Sparkle Dun - March Brown|

Adams |

Parachute Adams |

A classic caddis imitation is an Elk Hair Caddis.

Elk Hair Caddis|

And a stonefly imitation – the Clarks Stone or a Rogue Foam Stonefly.

Clark's Golden Stone |
Rogue Foam Stone |

After selecting the profile, size and color come next.

Just match your fly’s size to the real bug. If you don’t have exactly the right color, that’s OK. Find the closest color in your fly box and tie it on. It might work.

Are the fish super-selective today? Then color might be important.

Those are the basic concepts I use to select the right dry fly. I use it all the time. Be sure to check out one of my popular posts New to Fly Fishing? What Flies Should I Use? for more ideas for a few flies to start fishing with.

In a future post, I’ll describe the importance of fly style (impressionistic vs. imitative) in the selection process for the waters you fish.

Now get out there and practice!

Enjoy…go fish!

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