What Fly do I need?

Well I am definitely not an expert but I have spent a lot of money on guides from Virginia to Oregon, from the San Juan in New Mexico to Alpine lakes in northern Montana, so I feel embolden to write a quick post on “What Flies should every fly angler have in there fly box”.

My approach to information sharing is more of a beg forgiveness approach. Sometimes you just have to hang it out there, have people that actually are experts tell you don’t know what your are talking about, modify your thoughts and hang it out there again.  Each iteration of the cycle vastly improves your knowledge base. So here we go.

I think we have all read the articles “10 must have flies”, but my approach here is going to be discussing the categories of flies.  Colors are another important angle and basically a multiplier of 10 for each type of flies. As Peter Stitcher, Biologist and Entomologist said:

“We all hit the parking lot, set up our rods and tie on our goto flies, while still being in the parking lot”.  Peter said this is not the best approach.  You need to see what is hatching, what the food source is on the river or stream and what the water temperature and flow is like.

So I will try to provide links to videos related to these categories and let you decide what to tie (or buy).  Here are the categories I will address. (Feel free to droop me a line or post on AZFISHBOOK if you have different ideas or requests):

Best Dry Fly

The Parachute Adam tops the list for dry flies. With its brown and gray body, looks like a mayfly and a host of other insects.  This fly can easily trigger a take, with or without a hatch.

In my limited experience I have had excellent luck with the Elk Hair Caddis ranges between sizes 10-18. Tan and olive are the most popular body colors. Tied on a size 4 or 6 hook.

A Stone Fly Pattern is also a great asset for you fly box.  Check out this video by Ruben Martin.

Must have Nymphs

First I’d like to promote a book from Jason Randall Nymph Masters: Fly-Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers. Jason’s knowledge come for legends like Lefty Kreh, Ed Jaworowski, Joe Humphrey, Gary Borger and Landon Mayer to name a few.  Jason says: “their time together is equivalent to a PhD in nymph fishing.

Now to the flies, one of my go to guys for tiny flies is Ed Engle.  Ed will actually be speaker her in Phoenix in March 2018. A good general-purpose nymph should suggest more than one species of insect. By that criterion, the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear is one of the very best.  If you are fishing the San Juan it is hard to beat #24 Red, Orange or brown Annelid as your top fly and a dropper of an RS-2 or midge pupa, grey, black or brown.


Wooly Bugger are hard to beat.  As my friend Jack Houck explains “Wooly buggers look like nothing and look like everything”.

Midge and Terrestrials

Zebra Midge, Griffith gnat midge cluster,

Other Patterns

Egg Patterns and Worm Patterns, More to come There are a variety of hopper that work well from the Davy’s hopper, Chubby Chernobyl to several color of foam hoppers and ant patterns.

This blog will continue to evolve and any feedback for improvement will be appreciated.