Fly & Tenkara, Freshwater, Trout

“Emergency” dry flies- three of my favourites

As you slowly wade up the river a trout rises. You take a guess at what the trout is eating, tie on a fly you think might work and make the cast. You get a decent drift but the trout ignores your offering. It rises again. The process is repeated and you change patterns. You cast again. Once again the trout refuses your fly but continues to rise happily. Its at this point, frustrated, searching for an answer that you go for one of your “emergency” flies. One of those flies that just always seems to come through for you when your backs against the wall. You cast. Seconds after the fly hits the water the trout rises to your offering. A broad smile breaks out across your face. The toil was all worth it, heck it was so much better because of it. There is something very special about fooling a tricky fish after numerous attempts. As you sit and take it all in you gaze over at the fly that did the damage. You think to yourself, why does that fly always produce in these situations? Is it simply that you fish your “emergency” with more confidence? Quite possibly. Is it something in the pattern that drives finicky fish wild? Unlikely. Is it simply confirmation bias, that you only remember the good times? Maybe. At this point though it hardly matters, all that matters is that it came through for you again. Thank god for “emergency” flies.

So without further ado, here are three of my favourite “emergency” dry flies.

The F fly.

Some F flies in size 18 and 20
Some F flies in size 18 and 20


Its late in the evening. The fish have finally started rising. You are not quite sure to what. You find a nice fish rising close to the bank. You present an adams, but no love. Next a red spinner or something else. Same result. Its this situation where I often tie on the F fly. Its a super simple pattern, a body and some CDC but it has come through for me time and time again in tricky situations earning it a place as one of my go to emergency flies.

Ants, Ants, Ants


Ants. Trout love ants. No fly box is complete without a couple of them. Whether fished as dry flies or fished subsurface ants have caught me lots of finicky fish. Ants are simply one of the great emergency flies in my opinion. Go ants!

The renegade

Some renegades ready to save our bacon in an emergency (photo by Brett Cirulis)
Some renegades ready to save our bacon in an emergency (photo by Brett Cirulis)

Brett put me onto the renegade. Its not a fly that seems to get much attention here in Australia but it is a great all round attractor pattern. It has also become one of my go to emergency flies. Midging trout in lakes, difficult to tempt trout in rivers, the renegade has rescued us on more than a few occasions. Why it works? I have no idea, as far as I can tell it doesn’t look much like any insect I can think of. But it works, so who cares right? It is definitely a fly deserves a place in a few more anglers dry fly boxes.

So thats three of my “emergency” flies. Obviously the reasons I have picked those flies are totally personally and dripping with bias. What are your favourite emergency patterns and why?



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1 thought on ““Emergency” dry flies- three of my favourites

  1. Pingback: Simple flies: palmered hackle flies | Flick and Fly Journal

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