YOUR essential DRIES



Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
Miff-Co, PA
I am asking what YOUR essential DRIES are. Why am I asking this? Because I am in the organizing, fly tying mood and gearing up for the upcoming season AND we are a fly fishing board, let's talk dry flies. I don't fish flies I don't tie and I am getting ready to tie to get me ready for spring. Something else you ought to know about me and my fly fishing style is I like to keep it light. I don't like to be bogged down with TOO many fly patterns. I like flies I have faith in flies I can fish often in a vareity of situations to catch fish.

However, the dries I tend to keep on hand at all times are as follows: some forms of Elk Hair Caddis, some BWO parachutes, parachute ants, Royal Wulff, some big, bushy style wulff versions of a green drake/coffinfly, some grey wulffs, some kind of sulphur pattern (parachute or wullf) and some Griffith's gnats.

I know my essential dries, but enlighten me to yours and why you like them. Maybe I will tie and add some more before the hatches start. I am expecting BWO's on small local limestoner that I fish every March any time now. It is a tradition for me to hit this with dry flies and where I cut my fly fishing teeth.
I like Bill Anderson's Cripple Emerger Transformer (CET) pattern. Can be tied in various sizes and colors to imitate a variety of mayflies (sulphur, olive, hendo, etc.). Simple tie and very effective.
THread on this pattern

I've been substituting small rubber leg material for the tail which Bill ties with thread and head cement.

Last edited:
Renegades, Bivisibles, Parachute Ants, sulfur patterns, Mr.Rapidans, CDC & Elk.

I tend to fish wet flies in the film when there are BWO's about.
Elk hair caddis: small to medium Brown trout streams

Parachute adams: small Brook trout streams

Parachute BWO: spring creeks

Parachute Sulfur: little juniata river.

Chubby Chernobyl: summertime
midges, bwo, hendricksons, caddis, sulphurs, ants/beetles/hoppers, & tricos can keep me going all through the year in the streams I fish. Most of my favorite of these patterns are very simple and sparse.

I like to travel light too.
I only tie a few DIFFERENT patterns and rely on just color & size changes to cover the different bugs:

Generic Emerger with CDC or Snowshoe Rabbit wing differing in size & color for all emerger situations.​
Thorax & Parachutes differing in size & color to imitate all mayfly hatches.​
Poly Wing Spinners differing in size & color to imitate all mayfly spinner falls.​
Elk Wing Caddis differing in size & color to imitate all caddis & stonefly hatches I encounter.​
Generic Wingless Dry Midge differing in size & color to imitate all midge hatches I encounter.​
Griffiths Gnats differing only in size & hackle color when the generic midge isn’t working. ;)
Foam Back Humpies in red & green in size 16 only​
Foam Beetles in black size 16 only​
Foam Green Inchworms in size 16 only​
Foam Bees in size 16 only​
Fur Ants in black & red size 20 & 22​
It sounds like a lot but I have stuff organized so I only carry what I expect to encounter where I am fishing.
X-caddis tan various sizes

Sulphur dun/cripple

ISO dun/cripple

Olive 16-22

Emerger/floating nymph all sizes

If you venture to the dark side....PT, Bird's-nest, Prince and caddis pupa (tan and bright green)

Keep it simple. That selection will catch 90% of fish.
Early season - Adams in misc sizes 18 to 12 and parachute BWO
Some sort of size 16 tan caddis - go back and forth from CDC to Trigger Point wings
X-caddis in dark and tan bodies

16 sparkle dun sulphur and parachute Cahill for spring

Loads of rusty spinners from 18 to 12.

Some all white Catskill dries for night fishing
Honestly 90%+ of my dry fly fishing are done w/ various size EHC, stimulators (different body colors), various types of wulffs, and Adams. For the wulffs and adams, I'll use "traditional" or parachute, depending on the need.
You are missing rusty spinners. MB's, sulphurs, cahills, etc. etc. etc. So many mayflies, the spinner falls can be handled by the good old rusty spinner in the right size. It's an easy tie too. I always have a selection from 10-18 or so. In hatch season on hatch streams, it is THE fly I am not going to ever leave home without.

For duns and even caddis, I think you could get away with an Adams catskill or thorax type tie. Parachutes work too, but are harder to skitter if the fish are keyed on movement, which sometimes happens. Again, 10-18 or so. And these will work fine for your brookie flies too.

I'd want an ant or beetle pattern in the mix for summertime terrestrial fishing.

And I dunno, but I like having emergers on me. Again, I don't think color matters as much as size.

If you fancy some midge/trico fishing. Tie a trico spinner. Cut the tails off and fluff up the poly wings a bit, and it becomes a midge. You're welcome.
Parachute Adams (14-16) is the dry fly I use 90% of the time, a Royal Coachman (14-16) picks up the slack. Simply, because they work. And, I can easily see them. ;)
Last edited:
Baltz paranymph, Griffith Gnat, Stimulator and of course ants and beetles!
several different color comparaduns, elk hair caddis, adams, midge parachute cluster
Oh yeah. Now we have a discussion rolling. I like to keep it simple. There are a few patterns that I might add from the list so far. Who knows.

The Rusty Spinner. Oh yes, I have been caught without those before when I REALLY needed em. I will tie some of those up for sure.

Wow, it is amazing we can talk about the same stuff for years and never get sick of it. How many ways can you lash dead animal parts, synthetics, and other natural bits to a hook? I don't know the answer, but it is surely a helluva lot.
Parachute Adams for me. Mostly 16's. I drift them, skitter them and have even picked up fish when they have sunk and swung in fast water.. it's crazy what this fly can do.
I learned to fish dries from my dad and uncle. They were of the opinion that " Caddis is king" in PA.
The whole essential thing is an interesting question and I've enjoyed reading the responses. Flip rocks in most PA cricks and you'll find caddis. But with mayflies on free stone cricks, essential in April is extra in May. I think it helps knowing the bug life from one holler to the next and making decisions accordingly. In some spots the fish aren't picky.
There were so many good suggestions but would like to add Blue Quills in April and Sallies after Memorial Day.
I personally do a lot more dry fly fishing with mayflies than caddis, but it depends where you're at.
Panther Martin
CP swing
Rooster tail

In that order 🤣🤣🤣
Deer hair caddis, Bivisible, Adams, Ants, Rusty spinner and then all the match the hatch dries throughout the season.