Dry Fly Form, Function and Style

ARTICLE BY Brent Kelley, November 18, 2023

Imitative dry fly design and choice are predicated on several factors that are easily understood. Flytyers design flies in various ways to adapt to surface fishing and employ specific patterns, materials and tying techniques in response to conditions found on stream. In many cases fish are extremely selective and lots of trial and error thinking is needed to get fish to respond to fly choices.

The key is to tie on flies that are tailored for the conditions and that fish find credible as the actual insect stage and type they are feeding on. Lots of discussion usually follows the topic of actually why stream-wise fish are fooled by our imitations.

But fooled they can be by utilizing strategies to create great imitations in flies we tie at the vise. It follows that one key to success on the stream is success in tying. So we need to understand how to achieve a certain characteristic using materials (both natural and synthetic) available to us. Color, size, profile, translucence and even how the fly acts in the surface film all need to be considered.

And that is probably only a partial list as trout “sense” much differently than humans do.

In order to increase chances of developing flies that fool fish- especially trout- requires knowing how to achieve credible imitations and perhaps most important among that knowledge is having a vast repertoire of techniques to call on. This demonstration will feature several tying techniques that can be mastered for your own tying success. Most important is how the techniques can be matched with specific materials in order to produce a fly that matches your vision… and catches the fish.

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