The 7 must-have flies for trout anglers in the West

The magnificent 7

Keep yourself busy this winter by restocking your fly boxes with these essential western trout patterns



This should be the first dry fly that all tiers learn. It has all of the classic elements of a dry: spun hackle, upright wings and a long tail. Once you master the Adams, all dry flies will be relatively easy to tie. While not a perfect imitation of anything, the Adams is the ultimate generalist any time mayflies are hatching. In fact, any time there are bugs on the surface of a lake or stream, the Adams will produce. It just has that ideal neutral shade that appeals to trout in a host of conditions.

When I first moved to Alberta and didn’t know about western hatches, I fished the Adams everywhere, from tiny brook trout streams to big rivers to high-mountain lakes. It was a good thing I didn’t know much, because the Adams caught fish everywhere, and it’s still my most-used dry fly. The key is carrying a wide range of sizes, and keeping the fly well coated in silicone floatant—the higher it rides on the water, the more effective it is.

HOOK: Standard dry fly, sizes 10 to 20


TAIL: Mix of grizzly and brown hackle barbs

Wings: Grizzly hackle tips

BODY: Grey dubbing

HACKLE: Mix of grizzly and brown, dry-fly quality

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