Re: Southeastern Dry Flies!
You've set an admirable goal-- but I'll add a few opinions and a couple suggestions to think about.
***but first a disclaimer--Eventually everyone has their own "go to" flies and a lot depends on the waters they fish, and lady luck, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt.***
Anyway, to continue
Think about prioritizing a bit and concentrate on:
Some reliable basics to cover a variety of situations:
some nymphs (beadhead Pheasant Tail 16-18, Bead Head Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear 14-16), wets (a few soft hackles or flymphs size 14) and some streamers (Bead Head Buggers in black and olive size 6 or 8. The nymphs will imitate a variety of mayfly larva and the wets will cover you for a lot of situations including emerging mayflies and caddis as well as a good searching flies that let you cover a lot of water swinging them in down and across stream. A few streamers like Muddlers or Slumpbusters in size 8 for sculpins, Black Ghost size 6 or 8 for many minnows and a bright attractor) and a few Bead Head Black Woolly buggers for high water, searching and getting deep. These will be good basic additions to your box in case fish aren't looking up at your dries.
Pick up some basic dries:
Adams -- I would suggest Parachute Adams instead of the "Catskill style" collared pattern in size 14-16. The parachute pattern will sit right in the film, so it's a good medium shade generic mayfly imitation.
Light Cahill- size 14-16 a good imitation for many light bodied mayflies. i wouldn't bother with a Dark Cahill-- eventually you'll be adding other dark patterns to match specific hatches and the Adams can fill that role until then. you might want to mix it up and get a couple Light Cahills tied in the traditional Catskill style with a hackle collar as well as a few tied as a Light Cahill Sparkle Dun for a different look. The hackled versions will ride on top of broken water and be easier to see. The Sparkle Duns will sit in the film and might work better on slower or more heavily pressured stretches of water. (They can often fish well for several phases of a hatch (the emerger, the mayfly dun and spinner)
Elk Hair Caddis something light colored (tan or light green body and bleached deer or light elk hair wings) and dark colored (gray or olive brown body body and gray wings) in size 14 and 16. These are good searching flies and will be a good match for many different caddis hatches
Some small stuff for when you run into it:
Griffith's Gnat size 20
Blue Wing Olive Parachute 18-20 (this can replace 18-20 Adams)
I wouldn't go too crazy adding the really small stuff like 22 and 24's at this point-- use the bigger size 20 Griffith's Gnat it you run into stuff that small, The size 18-20 BWO is also a good imitation of similar sized medium to dark shaded mayflies and midges.
Some easy to see fast water stuff like a few:
Heavily hackled Wulffs with easy to see white wings in size 14 or 16
Yellow Stimulator size 16 (doubles as a yellow sally, little yellow stone and large caddis. The Little Green Stonefly might sporadically hatch on the headwaters of mountain streams (where fish don't tend to be too picky), but usually it's not a dense hatch. Throw the Yellow Stimi if you run into them since it's a similar size and shade even though it's not an exact match.)
From there, add stuff to match what will be happening on the streams in the remaining weeks and months-- for example you won't have to worry about Quill Gordons until next spring, and Hendricksons, March Browns Gray Foxes might be over by now as well.
So for now and the summer I'd add some
Terrestrials- a few ants and/or beetles and a couple of hoppers. These will be good to throw along streamside vegetation throughout the summer even if there's nothing hatching.
Summer Hatches-- You'll want to differentiate between the "sure thing" hatches that typically occur year to year in large numbers and last several weeks, and the "it's possible you may run into it" type of hatches. This can differ by stream or type of water (freestone, spring creek or tailwater) even in the same area. A good fly shop can help you zero in on the major hatches for the waters you fish for remainder of the season.
Some other possibilities (but first check with your local shop before you buy any to see if they occur where you fish and to get pattern recommendations):
Sulphurs - if you get dorotheas size 16-18, these are worth imitating with their own imitations since they are usually a big deal hatch where they occur. Usually they are a lot more yellow or orange than the creamy white Light Cahill pattern. Check with your local fly shop as to the most effective patterns-- it might be a something that's not the traditional Catskill style, often a pattern like a Comparadun, Sparkle Dun, thorax style etc in Sulphur colors.
Isonychia size can vary by area and species, maybe 12 or 14, but these are a pretty reliable hatch in many areas that runs from late spring through October in many areas of the East. They go under a lot of differnt names like Slate Drake, Mahogany Dun etc. I like a Dun Variant or Iso Comparadun.
There are some other widespread summer hatches in the East you might get like Tricos (really small stuff size 20-24), White Flies a large white mayfly that can hatch in huge numbers around dusk in August on many trout and smallmouth streams (get something easy to see in low light like a White Wulff size 14) and large stuff like Golden Stones (Orange Stimulator size 6 or 8) that might be on the water on some streams early mornings and dusk and after dark.
Obviously if you run into a hatch that you can't solve with what you've got in your box you'll want to do a little more shopping, but this should cover a lot of bases for the rest of the season.
As you get experience fishing these patterns, and as you do more research on different hatches you'll realize that there are different phases of hatches like emergers or the spinner fall that might be more important in some hatches than others. And you'll also get a sense of what styles of flies fish best in your waters-- ones that sit in the film like parachutes or ride higher on their tippy toes like patterns with hackled collars.
It'll also give you some time to save up for the stuff you'll need for Spring hatches. You'll want to do the same here and prioritize for the big deal dependable hatches that occur in large numbers and last for several weeks as opposed to the "might happen but don't blink you'll miss it" hatches.
For big deal hatches that happen all over the East like the Hendrickson, you might want to have several patterns including emergers, and spinners, as well as a couple of different styles of duns. And in the case of the Hendricksons, the female dun is lighter with a tannish pink body (Hendrickson) and the male is darker with a dark reddish brown body (Red Quill).
For other hatches that may be less reliable or happen in colder weather when it's a pain to fish like the Blue Quill (?), you can throw something darkish size 18 like an Adams or Blue Wing Olive if you happen to run into it.
Hope this helps.