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Favorite Colorado Dry Flies


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Black Ant
Griffith's Gnat
Royal Wulff




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Black Ant: There are several thousand species of ants. Most are black but there are cinnamon and reddish species as well. Ants are especially abundant late in summer. They are carried in great numbers by upslope mountain winds from July thru September. Mayflies, on the other hand, wane in numbers as summer rolls on.

Foam ants are more durable, float higher and longer than standard patterns. Ant patterns work even if fish are not rising. Black and brown are the most effective colors. They can be effectively fished wet, with weight, or dead-drifted dry. Research indicates some terrestrials in lakes take up over 50% of a fish's diet in August and September.
 


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Blue Winged Olive (BWO): Name used to describe members of the insect family called Baetidae, Baetis and Diphetor. There are more than 150 species listed for North America. As common trout food, BWOs are important to fly anglers. The insects and patterns are small, difficult to see and hard to distinguish.

Most Baetis look gray on the water. Many mayfly species are predominately olive colored. Others have gray, yellow or brown tones.  Pale Morning Dun and Pale Evening Dun mayflies can be light olive or light green.  Trout often prefer one shade over another.

Blue Winged Olives hatch under cloudy or partly cloudy skies. Good weather creates warming conditions, but foul weather often provoke dense hatches. BWO hatches are most anticipated in the spring and fall. When emerging, duns briefly reside on the surface to dry their wings. Trout swarm on the easy pickings.
 


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Tying Instructions  
Elk Hair Caddis: Most people fish caddis dry flies that are too big. Caddis, with outspread, fluttering wings look bigger than they are. Popular sizes range from 10-18. When in doubt, go smaller. Elk Hair Caddis wing colors range from white to black. The Mother's Day hatch on Colorado's Arkansas River is best fished with a black-bodied caddis.

The Elk Hair's high-floating characteristic allows it to be dead-drifted, skated and twitched. If trout are swirling underneath, try a smaller size. Use scissors to modify the pattern. Trim the bottom hackle for a lower floating, more imitative look. Cut most of the wing and hackle to create a caddis emerger
. The Elk Hair also works well as a strike indicator. Tie 16 to 24 inches of tippet to the hook bend to attach the second, smaller dry or nymph.
 


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Griffith's Gnat: This popular dry fly was originated by George Griffith, a founder of Trout Unlimited. The Griffith's Gnat imitates emerging midges and egg-laying adults. While trout feed primarily on pupa during midge hatches, they are receptive to a well-presented Griffith's. When venturing to high mountain lakes in late summer, make sure to have a supply for evening hatches.

Griffith's Gnats are quite versatile. You can float it with a dead drift or skate the fly along the surface. Trim the bottom hackles to position in the surface film as an emerger. Sink the Griffith's and fish it on the swing as a wet fly.
 


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Light Cahill Comparadun: New Yorker Daniel Cahill developed the pattern, though not the style, in the 1880s to simulate a family of tan mayflies. The Light Cahill is a general imitator of summer mayfly duns.

Comparaduns are a recent design. They are tied without hackle, use a hair fan for wings and are ideal for selective trout in slow, clear waters. The Light Cahill pattern imitates Pale Morning Duns, Pale Watery Duns, Spurwings, Pale Evening Duns and the Red Quill Mayfly. The Pale Morning Dun (PMD) hatch is normally in the summer, massive and occurs in slow, clear waters. PMDs are best matched with size 18 hooks or smaller.
 


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Parachute Adams: The most popular dry fly in North America, the Adams is a classic searching pattern. It was created in 1922 by Len Halladay for C. F. Adams. To imitate most mayfly hatches, use an Adams in sizes 10-22. There are many variations of the traditional Catskill pattern. Tiny bugs, fading light and poor eyesight make the parachute style popular.

Easier to see, the body lays low and flush in film. Horizontal hackle allow it to plane on the surface when tension is applied. This style provide a great profile from underneath.

Parachute Adams make ideal emerging or spent insects. In Colorado's high country, they imitate ants dropped by summer winds. Cut the tail off an Adams to create a caddis imitation. Skate one across the surface to simulate egg-laying adults. Use small sizes to mimic midges. The Adams is the most versatile dry fly around.
 


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Royal Wulff: Wulffs are a distinct type of dry fly designed by fly fishing innovator Lee Wulff. His Wulff style of heavily hackled, split hair-wing flies were designed for both buoyancy and visibility in western waters. The pattern has evolved over the years into many variations that cover most scenarios.

The Royal Wulff is a variation of the Royal Coachman. Wulff-style flies are attractor patterns invented for rough waters. They are too highly-dressed to work well on slow, clear streams with selective trout who aren't rushed. But, when you're fishing dries in riffles, where fish must quickly react or lose a meal, Wulff styles are effective.
 


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Stimulator: This pattern is an attractor that offers superb flotation, rides high and stands up to use. Sizes range from 6-18. Orange, royal, olive and yellow are the preferred colors. Stimulators imitate stoneflies, caddis and grasshoppers.

They are the ideal first fly in a two-fly "hopper/dropper" rig. Tie 16 to 24 inches of leader tippet to the hook bend of a Stimulator to attach the dropper. Skate one across the surface to imitate egg-laying caddis. Twitch it to mimic hoppers. Stimulators are also popular as strike indicators when the second fly is too small or can't be seen.
 


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Yellow Humpy: Humpies are an old western attractor pattern popular mid-summer thru fall. This fly, like others on the list, was designed to be highly visible and buoyant. The deer hair components, used in the tail, wings and shellback, float well in the Rockies' faster waters. Yellow is the most popular color.

You can skate or twitch a humpy a to imitate caddis or hoppers. They work well dead-drifted on stillwaters and are a "go-to" fly in Colorado's alpine lakes. Humpies are also effective on bass and panfish.
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