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



No fly vest is complete without a caddisfly imitation, and this one is my favourite. Getting the elk-hair wing stacked properly on this fly is the greatest challenge for the tier, but when done correctly, the Elk Hair Caddis is an ideal imitation for a variety of caddisfly hatches. The hackle wrapped over the body makes the fly super-buoyant, helping it sit upright on the water. It also lets you skitter the fly across the surface.

My most memorable day with the Elk Hair Caddis was on B.C.’s Whitetail Lake. The action had been decent throughout the day, but it absolutely died as evening approached, despite the fact the fish were rising like crazy. As I lifted my rod tip to bring in my Elk Hair Caddis and try a new pattern, the fly danced across the surface and a big rainbow slammed it, breaking the tippet. I quickly tied on another Elk Hair, and instead of allowing it to sit motionless, I began to retrieve it. Instantly, I got another strike. That time I landed a big rainbow. And so went the action for the next couple of hours. Since that day, I’ve used this technique often, even on flowing water, skittering the fly across the surface on a tight line at the end of the drift. Just hang on, because strikes are explosive.

HOOK: Standard dry fly, sizes 8 to 20

BODY: Brown, green or grey dubbing

HACKLE: Palmered brown saddle hackle

WING: Natural grey elk hair

Send this to a friend