My favourite dry mayflies

As a young fella back in Scotland my passion was fishing the dry fly. Summer evening saw me wading the rivers Don or Urie, flicking size 16 dries at rising trout until the light faded. Just before it got too dark I would take off the dry fly and change to a cast of sedges for the last hour but to be honest the high point of the evening had passed by then. Seeing a trout take my floating fly was like a drug to me, I adored the sight and the thrill of the take. Badger quills, blue duns and the rest filled my fly box and the round metal tin of Mucilin was always kept handy in my jacket pocket.

The contents have long since dried up but here is an old (very old!) tine of Mucilin floatant

I mix my angling so much these days that there is not enough time to concentrate on any one method meaning the dry fly is less of an addiction to me now. Floaters still find their way on to the end of my cast, most often during the mayfly hatch. I use the Mosely May extensively but here are a few other dry patterns I particularly like.

Everybody’s favourite, the Green Wulff

Hook: medium wire normal shank, something like a Kamasan B170 in sizes 10 or 12

Tying silk: olive

Wings and tails: grey squirrel tail, dyed green. The wings are tied upright and split.

Body: green olive fur

Hackle: Good quality grizzle cock dyed green

I also use the same fly but tied with undyed squirrel tail.


Very good on lough Conn this one.

my CDC May

Hook: Kamasan B170 or similar, sizes 10 and 12

Tying silk: olive, 8/0

Tails: moose mane or brown bucktail

Rib: thin Globrite, no.4 floss

Body: Golden olive fur

Wings: a pair of dyed yellow CDC tied over the back of the fly

Hackle: Grizzle cock, dyed green tied in front of the wing, generous turns.

Irresistible Adams

There is a bit of work involved in making this fly but it can be very good on its day. I tie a few different versions, either winged or spider.

Hook: Kamasan B170 or similar, sizes 10 and 12 (a size 14 can be good during a hatch of olives)

Tying silk: Black or olive, 6/0

Tails: 50/50 mix of red game and grizzle cock hackle fibres. I have used a slim bunch of fox squirrel hair sometimes too.

Body: spun natural deer hair. 3 or 4 bunches are spun then clipped short to form a tapered body. Leave space for the hackles!

Wings: the original had a pair of grizzle hackle points tied upright and split. I use grey squirrel tail sometimes but to be honest I think the wingless version catches just as many trout.

Hackles: good quality red game and grizzle cock wound together.

My spent mayfly

These days I don’t target the fall of spent gnat much but I still carry a few flies in the box in case I am presented with trout sipping them late in the day. This first one has served me well over the years and is great because it is so easy to tie.

Hook: size 10 or 12, normal or long shank

Tying silk: black

Tails: Moose mane hair or black squirrel tail hair

Body: PTFE plumbers tape

Rib: black flexfloss

Hackle/wings: A long fibred badger cock hackle. Many turns then pull the fibres below the hook up and make figure of eight turns, the same method as on the Mosely May.

The next one does not have a name as far as I can tell. Very much an ‘all or nothing’ pattern this Wulff style fly has caught me fish on lough Mask.

Hook: Kamasan B170 size 10

Tying silk: yellow

Wings and tails: squirrel tail dyed hot orange. wings are tied split and facing slightly forward

Body: Natural seal’s fur ribbed with clear nylon

Hackle: grizzle cock dyed light olive

And finally, some days just keeping it simple is the best idea. We all know that a Grey Duster is as good as anything but I like this slight variant. I suppose it is a Grizzly grey duster.

Hook: size 12 or 10

Tying silk: black 8/0

Tails: fibres of grizzle cock

Body: light grey fur

Hackle: a few turns of grizzle cock

Keep the dressing light on this one and fish the fly in a small ripple.


2 thoughts on “My favourite dry mayflies

  1. Reading this while traveling just makes me want to get back sooner to try tying some of these. I just picked up an old copy of fly tyer from a few years ago all about tying the irresistible Adam’s. Perfect.


    1. Lovely fly which demands you pay attention to proportions. I have a couple which I made the body from white deer belly hair but I have never got around to trying – maybe this year. Safe travelling Gavin.


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