Flies you never leave home without

Bryce Levin

Active Member
Depends on where and when you are fishing. But here are the basics on freestone rivers around here, 2 colors of each fly, and 2-3 sizes of each fly.

Nymphs: Hares ear, pheasant tail, pats stone, prince nymph, the worm, das bead

Dries: Chubby, stimulator, EHC, adams

Streamer: Wooly bugger in various sizes, colors, and weights

Tailwaters are a whole different story.
Great photo! I remember being there with my first fly box.
Here are my dry fly suggestions:
1) Parachute Adams in sizes 12-16 - these are about as good a generic dry fly as you can find
2) Parachute Madame X or Stimulator in sizes 8-12 - these fill that role of large generic dry flies that can fill in for hoppers (especially the Madame X with rubber legs), large stone flies, October caddis, etc.
3) Elk hair caddis and/or X-caddis in sizes 12-16 - these are versatile caddis imitations that everyone should have. EHC is better for rough water; X-caddis for smooth water
4) Comparadun style dry mayfly/emerger in sizes 14-18. Patterns I like are called "sparkle duns" or "deer hair emergers"

I'm much less particular about nymphs. I think it is because nymphs tend to be simple in form and fish are less particular in what they will try to eat, but maybe it is just because I am more of a dry fly fisherman. Get some of these in bead head and others without.
1) Pheasant tail nymphs sizes 12-18
2) Hare's ear nymphs sizes 12-18
3) Stone fly nymphs (many suitable patterns) sizes 8-12
4) Lightning bug in sizes 14-18. This is the only somewhat non-generic pattern I use regularly; it is a modified pheasant tail nymph with a bit of hackle and flash on the body

Streamers. For now, get a few wooly buggers in various sizes and colors (as long as they are black or olive).

Fill that box and have fun!


WFF Supporter
I'm another new guy who filled up a similar box over the course of the summer. Ditto the comments above, especially the parachute Adams. I would also add a few purple haze.


Active Member
Keep it simple:
Dry flies - Elk Hair Caddis in size and body color of those you have observed
Comparaduns in size and body color of those you have observed
Nymphs - Flash Back Gold ribbed hares ears, Pheasan Tails, and Evil Weevils in sizes and colors that you have observed underneath rocks
Golden, Lime, and Salmon Fly- Stone flies according to hatch
Chironomids - Small sized #16 or less matching color and size observations
Bait Fish Patterns - Talk to your local fly shop because you don't always see these swimming about

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
For the past 2 years 99.9% of my freshwater trout fishing has been with a Tenkara rod.
The Tenkara flies I don't leave home without are:
Takayama Sakasa Kebari in three colors Pheasant tail body with Peacock herl thorax.
Red body with Peacock herl thorax.
Rusty brown Dazzlaire with olive Crystal Chenille thorax, Hematite bead head.
Akiyamago Kebari using a yellow silk hook eye & tail.
Killer Bug.
On a trip last week to a high stream, my buddy finished strong with a bead head GRHE so I stuck 3 in my pack.

For saltwater beaches,
James Peach
Rolled Muddler
Reverse Spider, in two colors:
Orange & yellow chenille, both with Golden Pheasant hackle.

Rock Creek Fan

Active Member
1) Parachute Adams dry fly in sizes 12-16
2) Humpie dry fly in sizes 14 -16 - good for smooth or rough waters (various colors including green, yellow, tan and orange)
3) Pheasant tail nymphs sizes 14 -18 (with and w/o beadhead)
4) Hare's ear nymphs sizes 14 -18 (with and w/o beadhead)
5) Worms
6) Terrestrial - ant and hopper

I usually fish a fly one size smaller than what I think is hatching on clear streams and rivers. It avoids the potential a fish rejecting it due to size... I have seen too many rejections due to size in what I thought was the right size.


Active Member

: Gold Ribbed Hares ear, Flash back pheasant tail, Copper Johns, Frenchie, Purple Prince, Big Ugly stonefly nymphs in brown and black.

Dries: Elk Hair Caddis in Tan, Olive, and Orange, Stimulator in Orange, Chubby Chernobyl with lots of flash, Purple as an attractor, Orange/Gold if there is a stonefly hatch.

Streamer (on Sink Tip lines): Sculpzilla, Dolly Lama, Wolly Buggers and Flash Buggers


Denny Rickards AP Emerger, Stillwater Nymph, Rickards Chironomid Pupa, Bloodworms (San Juan worms, Little Buzzer and beadhead blood worms), Gold Ribbed Hares ear

Dries: Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Ant, Beetle and Hopper patterns

Streamer (Camo Intermediate lines): Wolly Buggers, Bunny Leeches, Small Minnow patterns, Small Sculpin patterns

Greg Armstrong

Active Member
WFF Supporter
What, we are all full of it? ;)
No, that’s not what I meant Bryce. You misinterpreted my post.

What I was trying to say to the OP, is that the consistent recommendations by those that replied should give him a pretty good clue that those are good flies to stock up on.

Mark Koch

Active Member
Parachute Adams Purple 14-18
Trico spinner 20
Glitter Ant Black 16

Thin Mint 10

Pliva Perdigon 16

Short list of shirt pocket box. Take a spool of tippet, nippers and don't over complicate things.

This does change depending on location and time of year. Above is for today in the Driftless.

Driftless Dan

Driftless Dan
WFF Supporter
Where I fish now (Wisconsin's Driftless Area), I could easily catch all the fish I want with a single fly, the Pink Squirrel. I've caught Browns, Brookies, and Rainbow with it.
Pink Squirrels.jpg
I also never leave without a few Muddler Minnows in smaller sizes - 10's and 12's, a selection of PT nymphs and GRHE's in various configurations, and some soft hackles.

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