Four for the Freestone

UNI Products Fly Tiers Corner

Picking dry flies for small freestone streams in the southern mountains is an easy equation.

June 2023

When it comes to picking a fly for use in small mountain streams in the Southern Appalachians, the decision doesn’t have to be a complicated one. There are just a couple of factors that dictate what dry fly to choose. Once those are considered, the crew from On The Fly South generally settles on just a small selection of patterns to use.

To begin with, on these high elevation freestone flows in the mountains, the selection of bug life the fish see can be varied. But, none of the forage is particularly abundant. These waters tend to be infertile. Thus, true hatches of a single insect are rare and the trout don’t get tunnel vision regarding what they are feeding on.

Based on that, a big buggy-looking mouthful is something the fish usually can’t resist. That means attractor patterns that float well in broken water are good options.

The other factor is the low-light conditions often encountered in the shaded creek valleys. It is tough fishing when you have no idea where your fly landed on the water. These four recommended patterns solve that problem with their size and the white Wulff-style wings that make them standout and more easily seen. It is unusual to need to toss any pattern that is smaller than a size 12.

The Thunderhead and Adams Parachute are virtually the same fly, with just different wings. The Thunderhead has the divide mayfly-style set up, while the Adams, obviously, has a single parachute.

In the case of the Royal Wulff and Royal Trude, again the patterns are the same, but with varied wings. The Wulff gets the mayfly look, while the Trude has a single caddis-style wing.

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