There are many styles of dry flies that have been developed over the past 100+ years in America. Many dry fly styles such as the Catskill style of dries developed by Theodore Gordon, Rube Cross, Harry and Elsie Darbee, the Dettes, Art Flick and many others which have made an impact on fly fishing in America since before and after the turn of the century.
Other important contributions have come out of the State of Pennsylvania. Some people say American fly fishing was born in the Poconos Mountains but we’ll leave that argument for others to decide. The Henryville House in the Poconos certainly played an important player in the early 1900’s too. Many travelers arrived by train to fish the famed Pocono streams. Also not to far away in Easton Pa, Samuel Phillippe made the first split bamboo fly rod in the 1840’s. This area obviously is also important in fly fishing and fly tying history.
To the south west of the Poconos in Cumberland County Pa., streams such as the Letort, Yellow Breeches, Big Spring Creek and others played an important part too in the development of new fly patters over the years and even more in modern years. Many terrestrial patterns were founded here, such as Ed Shank’s Letort Hopper and Letort Cricket. Vincent Marinaro’s thorax dry flies and other flies also had there birthplace in this area of Pa. Many authors of fly fishing and fly tying books lived in this area and some still do. I always enjoy stopping at the local fly shops when I was in the area.
The Catskill style of dry flies such as the Red Quill pictures on the left developed in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s in the Catskills are still popular today. They are effective flies for matching the hatches. The early Catskill tyers such as the Deetes, the Darbees, Rube Cross, Theodore Gordon and many others left us a legacy that will hopefully live on forever. These men and women set in stone great fly patterns for us to use today.
Tying a Catskill style of dry fly is a very simple process. If you study the style of fly they all have a divided wings usually of wood duck, hairwing or a mallard quill. If you master these 3 wing types you can tie most Catskill dries. The main parts of the fly that changes between patters are what the body is made from and the hackle color. Bodies are usually dubbing or a type of quill. Stripped peacock quill or a Rhode Island Red stripped quill in the case of the Catskill Red Quill fly.
Popular patterns include the Quill Gordon, Red Quill, Hendrickson ( light and dark), Light Cahill, March Brown, Grey Fox, Pink Lady, Queen of Waters, Tups Indispensable and many others. A quick search for Catskill patterns will revel many.
There are many traditional fly patterns that work as well today as they did 100 years ago. The Adams dry fly pictured on the left is one of many of those patterns. Often time the Adams dry is associated with the Catskills but it was actually derived in Michigan in 1922 by Leonard Halladay at the request of his friend Charles Adams whom the fly was named after. The Adams dry is a general imitation fly of an adult mayfly.
There are many standard dry flies such as the Royal Coachman and its variations, Royal Humpies, Stimulators, Spent Spinners, Renegades, Blue Wing Olive, Parachutes, Elk Hair Caddis, Tricos and others. Your best to test some on your home waters to see what works the best for you. As our website matures, I will add more dry fly content and more patterns
Terrestrials should have a place in every fly fisherman’s fly box. I’ve had great luck and loads of fun fishing terrestrial on hot summer afternoons. Patterns in your fly box should include black and cinnamon ants, hoppers, crickets, beetles, cicadas and bees. They all work great at slow times in the summer months. Ant patterns are easy flies to ties and would be good for beginning tyers. Terrestrials can save the day when fishing is slow.