The Dirty Dozen: 12 Flies You Need to Fish in the West

So, you’ve decided to book a trip out West to fish for some trout in the mighty Colorado River or high in the mountains of California. I heard you loved how straightforward the last Dirty Dozen article was and that you caught all of the fish in the North East because of it. Well, here we go again, here are the Dirty Dozen flies that will catch you trout in the West.

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Dry Flies (from left to right): Chubby Chernobyl, Stimulator, Humpy, Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Blue Winged Olive

Dry Flies:

Foam Ant/Hopper: Terrestrial hatches out West tend to be, well, how do I say it? EPIC! In order to take advantage of a crazy salmon fly hatch or something similar, having foam hoppers such as Fat Albert’s, Chubby Chernobyl’s, Hippie Stomper’s, or Morris Hopper’s as well as an ant pattern such as the Bionic Ant, will ensure that you are a part of the dry fly fishing madness.

Parachute Adams: A tried and true classic, the Parachute Adams looks highly similar to many bugs but looks like no one bug exactly. Any time there are bugs hatching on the surface, the Adams will produce. It just has that ideal neutral color that appeals to trout in almost any condition.

Blue Winged Olive: the BWO mayfly is among one of the most common insects in American waters and, for this reason, your box is not complete without one or fifty… trust me you’ll need a lot of them.

Humpy: along with several other flies, this one excels because its overly bushy nature makes it not resemble any delicate pattern of natural insects. However, time and time again it has proven to me why it deserves to be on this list, fish will eat it, even over a “match the hatch” dry fly.

Stimulator: one of the staple attractor flies out there, the Stimulator is killer when there is a large stonefly hatch. Additionally, because of its “bugginess”, it also makes for a great searching fly. This fly is very dynamic because it can resemble many things while imitating nothing in particular.

Deer Hair Caddis: created by a Pennsylvanian fly tier, the Caddis is a great searching pattern and imitates caddis hatches as well as small stonefly hatches. Dead drift it, skate it, do whatever with it, it will catch fish.

Wet Flies (from left to right): Sculpin Streamer, Wooly Bugger, Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, Copper John, Zebra Midge, Pat’s Rubber Legs

Wet Flies:

I prefer to use bead head nymphs (I personally don’t like to mess with split-shot when I don’t have to). Don’t forget to experiment with dry-dropper or straight nymph rigs as they can be very effective.

Pat’s Rubber Legs/Girdle Bug: There’s just something about this combination of crazy legs and chenille that drives trout nuts! This stonefly imitation works wonders on large and small waters and it can be tied to match any color or size of your local stoneflies. Fish it on a dry-dropper and hold on, you won’t regret it.

Hare’s Ear (Flashback): A staple that should be in any fly fisherman’s box, the Hare’s Ear is an effective pattern throughout the year because its various ways of being tied (fat, slim, bushy or sparse), cover a broad spectrum of prey/aquatic life that are active in every season—from scuds to mayfly nymphs to caddis larvae.

Pheasant Tail: One of the most popular nymph patterns, the pheasant tail is also known to imitate a large variety of aquatic insect larvae—specifically mayfly larvae.

Copper John: The ole Copper John is a staple fly because it doesn’t exactly imitate a mayfly, but it has just enough flash that trout love them. Plus, it sinks like a rock, so, it can be a very useful fly fishing in a dry-dropper or tandem nymph rig.

Zebra Midge: You would be pretty hard pressed to find a body of water where a trout wouldn’t munch on a zebra midge. Don’t let the simplicity of the pattern fool you, this fly flat out catches fish.

Wooly Bugger/Rabbit Hair Streamer: Chuckin’ meat is how you catch the hogs, plain and simple. Whether you’re throwing the classic Wooly Bugger or a Sculpin streamer, big fish will love the natural undulation of rabbit hair or will key in on the fleeting nature of the Wooly Bugger and the rest is history. From deep alpine lakes to roaring rivers, you’ll want your camera and a net handy.

Enough said you have what you need. Go out and make your fishing buddy who didn’t prepare for your trip by reading this article cry because of all the fish you’ll be catching. Then show them this article so they can catch fish too, everyone deserves a piece of the pie.

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