Gareth Lewis: Top Five Dry Flies

I am, what you might call, a dry fly addict. I find joy in targeting rising fish, seeing them rise to a fly I’ve tied myself. That passion and excitement began when I was 10 years old, and it hasn’t diminished one bit.

Whether I’m fishing by myself for a day, or whether I’m guiding a client, I am a huge fan of keeping things simple; this relates to both tactics and flies. When it comes to flies, I’ve always been an advocate of general facsimile over exact replica; of silhouette over colour. As such, there are half a dozen (five to be exact) dry flies that I simply wouldn’t feel comfortable being on a river without, such is my confidence in these old friends.

For thirty-three years I have called the River Taff and its surrounding catchments of the River Usk and Wye 'home'. I have enjoyed fishing both the main-stems as well as crawling around their smaller cousins higher up in the valleys and mountains. With simplicity in mind, I opt to carry one fly box, so it’s important the patterns I carry suit both these environments.


A long, long-time favourite, my thanks to Hans van Klinken for this wonderful pattern. Tied to originally imitate emerging caddis on fast flowing waters, the pattern can be slimmed down to imitate a wide range of emergers or crippled duns. I primarily fish larger sizes on broken and fast flowing waters and, if targeting fish sub-surface, I’ll simply tie a 2’ length of tippet from the bend of the Klinkhamer’s hook and, to that, a nymph. For calmer waters, I’ll drop down to #18’s and #20’s.

Tied on the Partridge Klinkhamer X-Treme 15BNX, I hold a range of colours in sizes #16-#20.


CDC & Elk

If keeping things simple is the name of the game, you simply can’t hide away from the mighty CDC & Elk. Tied with two simple ingredients of deer/elk hair and a single CDC hackle, it’s tied to imitate the adult caddis…and boy, it simply oozes ‘caddisy’ trout food. It doesn’t stop there, however, as I’ve experienced outstanding sport when targeting fish feeding on Large Brook Duns and March Browns.

Tied on the Partridge Patriot Fine Dry SLD in sizes #14-#16, this is another true trout catcher.


Simple, Dubbed-Body Paraduns

As well as caddis, we also enjoy a wide range of Ephemeroptera here in South Wales, and a simple, dubbed-body Paradun easily imitates a huge range of these. Keeping to the vein of silhouette and size, partnered with a quality hackle, this pattern will float well and catch fish all day. The pattern is just at home fished on long smooth glides as it is on more broken waters; just increase the size and ensure you’re using a fluorescent wing post.

Tied on a Partridge Dry Fly Supreme L5A, this pattern happily sits in fly box in a range of colours and from sizes #14-#18. If you need to go smaller, which I often do, then the L5A’s smaller brother (the Partridge Midge Supreme L5AM) picks up the batten and can be used to tie down to size #24, perfect for those summer evening hatches when the fish can become a little picky.


Chironomid Emerger

The rivers and small streams of South Wales have an amazing volume of Chironomidae - the non-biting midge which can be witnessed twelve months of the year. As such, they are a staple diet for both trout and grayling alike.

A pattern I’ve been fishing for a number of years thanks to a good fishing buddy of mine, I’ve tweaked it over the years with fantastic success. This emerger pattern can be fished on its own or, for enhanced visibility when fishing more broken water, can be fished as part of a double-dry team by partnering it with a more visible dry fly.

Great for midge-sippers or for those extra spooky fish. I would not be without this pattern. Ever.

Tied on the Partridge Grub/Shrimp Down-Eye K4A, I opt to fish this pattern in a range of sizes from #18 and smaller.


Deer Hair Emerger (DHE)

Devised by the mighty Bob Wyatt, this is another favourite which boasts amazing durability and simplicity. Emerging caddis, olives, you name it, this can be confidently fished. Run this down a riffley food lane on a small stream and just watch what happens.

Tied on the Partridge Grub/Shrimp Down-Eye K4A in sizes #14-#18, this is another superb ’12 monther’ which has been enjoyed by many self-respecting trout and grayling.


- Gareth Lewis