Fly Tying: Some Simple Wet and Dry Flies And How To Tie Them

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This is my fly tying page. I am not the greatest fly tyer, but I do pride myself in explaining how to tie flies effectively.

On this page you can find some of the flies I tie (I am predominatly a trout fly tyer) along with other information about fly tying (fly tying materials, tools and techniques) aimed at fly tyers who are getting started in fly tying.

Expert fly tyers might find some of the content here a little basic, but there are plenty of resources focused on the pros and I am happy to help people who are beginners become intermediate fly tyers like myself.

Dry flies

fly tying pic of a red spinner
A red spinner is a lethal pattern during spinner falls on some rivers

In this section you can find posts with the recipe for various mayfly and caddis fly patterns and other dry flies such as bettles and hoppers. Most of these links go to a page with a video of me tying the fly embedded along with a full fly tying materials list and step by step tying instructions. I also link direct to the videos on my YouTube channel if you prefer to just have videos as tutorials.

Mayfly patterns

The Parachute Adams is a classic modern mayfly pattern that is easy to spot

Here are a couple of classic mayfly patterns I like to tie:

  • Red spinner
  • Black spinner
  • F-Fly – a great subtle pattern for sipping trout on flat water
  • Parachute Adams – a versatile dry that can be tied with a pink or green post for visibility
  • Fastwater Dun – a great mayfly pattern for boisterous streams
  • Claret Shuttlecock – a great mayfly emerger/dun pattern for lakes

Terrestrials – Beetles, hoppers and ants

Beetle patterns are easy to tie, look great and are a solid option on tree lined streams.

I love fishing beetle patterns. There are few things better than flicking a beetle out from among the trees and watching a big brown come up and engulf it. Here are a couple of my favourite beetle patterns with links to the instructions and tying videos where I have produced them.

  • Gum beetle
  • Hi Vis Foam Beetle
  • Hi Vis Ant


The CDC Caddis Emerger is my go-to fly for tricky trout that are being fussy

Caddis make up a big part of a trout’s diets in many waterways and having decent caddis imitations across the nymph, pupa, emerger and dun phases is vital. Some favourites of mine are:

Nymph tying patterns

The Backcountry Nymph has an hot spot with the orange collar.

Nymphs catch more trout than any other fly patterns and are a key element of every good trout fisherman or woman’s fly box. I like to keep nymphs simple with just a few simple quick-to-tie patterns that represent mayfly and caddis nymphs. I tie these flies in a range of sizes from #18 through to #12 and like to keep them simple so I can sit down at the vise and crank out 20 or so flies in a short period of time.

Some favourites of mine are:

Wet fly tying patterns

A marabou tail is a key component of the Humungous and most smelt patterns

I love targeting smelting trout and rely on a few tested patterns to fool these fish. There’s nothing better than stalking a big trout herding baitfish in a shallow bay of a lake. Smelt patterns that emulate the size and color of the smelt and have a trigger (such as an orange bead, or a splash of red) are great options to induce a strike when cast into the vicinity of a smelter.

Woolly Buggers and similar flies are also good for river fishing where you can swing a wet fly through a nice run or strip it through a pool. Big streamers often fool the larger fish in a given fishing spot, if they are in the right mood.

These patterns are all nice and simple flies that make use of marabou or other fibres that provide lifelike movement underwater. These are easy to tie and catch fish.

Fly tying tools

The key tools in fly fishing are relative simple. You’ll need the following (more details in this post):

  • A good quality vise (read our review of the best fly tying vises the pick the right vise for you)
  • Good quality scissors (plus an old pair for cutting wire)
  • Bobbins
  • Whip finish tool
  • Hackle Pliers

Fly tying materials

For starting out in fly tying you’ll need a variety of essential materials. The basics that you’ll need as a fly tyer are described in this post and the key categories of fly tying materials listed here:

  • Hooks (the most important part of any fly – use our hook selector to find the right hooks for all the flies you tie. See also our post on fly tying hook sizes)
  • Fly tying thread
  • Wire
  • Beads for nymphs (tungsten and brass)
  • Deer hair
  • Tinsel, hair, flash, chenille and other similar synthetic materials
  • Hackle
  • Other feathers (pheasant tail, peacock herl, partridge feathers, marabou etc)
  • Tailing fibres
  • Dubbing – synthetic and natural fibres to make the body of the fly
  • Head cements
  • Wire (for wrapping the body)
  • Synthetic Lead wire (for weight)
  • UV resin (see our review of the Gulff range of UV resins here)

The other option you have as a beginner fly tyer is to get one of those fly tying kits that has the fly tying materials needed for beginners starting out in fly tying. Similarly, there are some great fly tying tool kits some of which are featured in our post on great gifts for a fly fisherman or woman and have the gear you need to get started.

RELATED POSTS: Fly tying hooks sizingdatabase of fly tying hooks – fly tying hook types

Fly tying photography

A CDC F-Fly taken with the Canon G1X Mk III and the Hoya macro filter

I put a lot of effort into photographing my flies now. In the early days I just grabbed pics off my iPhone, but was always disappointed with the quality compared to the images other fly tyers were posting. Nowadays I go all out – I use a self constructed lightbox and a Canon G1X MkIII with a 4x macro lens.

The difference in quality is massive and you can create some beautiful images like these with this setup. I am going to publish a blog post on this soon and recommend that all fly tyers take the time to learn a bit about macro photography to make their fly pictures look great. Materials such as peacock herl look fantastic in macro pics.

Photo of author
Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.