I forgot to mention any nymphs. I haven't fish nymphs since I figured out how to use them, that would be back around 1979 - 80. Prior to that I spent quite a bit of time learning how to make leaders for fishing 2&3 nymph rigs and how to read the seams for drifting them. Back then we did not use indicators, you dead drifted either with the rod high or by using serious line control. I got good at catching trout on nymphs but honestly, it was way too much like fishing red worms or crickets like I had done before taking up the fly rod. Plenty of fish caught but just too much like bait fishing for me, so once I had put the ability to fish them effectively on my resume, I stopped using them.
When I did I liked the following:
Hairs Ear: With or without rib & tail
Mayfly: Any color combination of mayfly with tails and wing case to match the nymph I was trying to match
Stone fly: Black, brown & gold / yellow
Green Caddis Pupa tied with clear Swanendaz vinyl
That's about it, I tied every pattern that were in my books but those were what I used. I still have a bunch of nymphs made during the 70's just in case I have to use them.
So there is my Top 11! I could add a couple nymphs like Copper John or different caddis larva but the fact is a big rubber leg stonefly nymph with a small PT (in various colors) is most common for my nymphing.
I could add a dry fly pattern for ever hatch in my area, but that sort of defeats the idea of a "Top 10" (or this one that goes to 11, thank you Nigel!). The primary hatches here can be fished, in general, with an Adam's of the right size...(not that I do it, but one could get away with it a lot of the time). If the Para Adams won't work, a Compara Dun probably will!
The Turk's in various size and color is a killer fly that can imitate a stonefly, hopper, caddis or just be a great attractor, I love that fly.
The EZ2C patter uses hackle tip wings canted over the hook eye, a hackle collar so I use this as an upright winged, high riding fly opposite the parachute.
Ill just kinda make a hodgepodge of what I like to use.
Numba 1: BUZZBALL. This fly is my go to fly, its killer. You wont believe how good it is until you try it.
#2: parachute Adams. Of course
#3: purple haze. A purple parachute Adams pretty much. Pretty awesome fly.
#5: tie. zebra midge: killer winter pattern and just a good general dropped off the weight nymph
#5: tie. Griffiths gnat: does a lot of different hatches if you don't have anything else. Saved the day during a trico hatch this year when I lost my tricks on light tippet.
#6: scud: have caught a lot of big fish on stillwaters with it.
#7: elk hair caddis. If nothing is really happening might as well toss that out there.
#8: Czech nymph: my go to weight fly all year. I'be had good success with it this last year.
#9: little green machine: a good dropped off the weight fly she nymphing.
#10: beetles, ants, terrestrial patterns. They work but ive only had marginal success. I kinda just put them on my top ten because ive caught large fish on them.
Now don't get me wrong here, I love fishing all types of flies in all types of ways, and usually hit the water with four boxes on me... But then again, I try to keep this quote in mind, especially when I gtry too hard to get too smart for my own good with fly selection.
Always thought it was a good one to remember, especially when teaching people who are just getting into the sport... I think it's helped several of those people keep from getting overwhelmed at first
"I look into my fly box and think about all of the elements I should consider when choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now. Then I remember what a guide told me: '90 percent of what a trout eats is brown and fuzzy and about 5/8 of an inch long'"
Cool thread. I was just looking through my fishing journal last night and 'discovered' that my fly choices had changed even from just last year.
Anyway, my top ten dries, in order of preference:
Still and always number one for me: hoppers (mostly Moorish, but I tested a few naturals this year)
Stimulators (stopped fishing EH caddis because of these things)
Parachute BWOs (can't leave home without them. Incredibly versatile. Clip off the post and trim the sides of the parachute. Bingo, it's a nymph/emerger depending on whether you apply any floatant. Trim one side, and wham, it's a spinner. Clip off the post and strip this guy under the film. I don't know what thheey think it is, but they like eating it.)
Parachute Adams (for those rare days when BWOs don't work)
PMDs (discovered these this year, mostly I fished the spinner version)
PMX (many days just as effective as hoppers or stims, practically unsinkable, even with a BH dropper. And landed my second largest 'bow with this thing today)
Green drakes (giant BWO invites giant smash from giant fish)
Flavinas (not sure these even exist in AZ, but they work nearly everywhere I go around here. Best imitation I've found for the 'tiny white bug' hatch)
Googley eyed cicada or flying black ants (ants can be fished year round, but nothing beats a good cicada hatch for top water action)
Top ten nymphs:
Tungsten cone magnum simi seal leech (purple, black or brown)
Lenny Special Magnum/Lite (my buddy's invention, think brown crystal bugger mates with crawfish on steroids)
MOAB (my invention, basically a cross between a Clouser and a feather wing streamer)
BWO emerger (fell in love with these things and another that's white with a dark grey rib during an eveing BWO rise)
Bird's nest depth charge (landed my PB 'bow on this today. And my PB tiger, splake, brook and 'cutt earlier this year)
Zug Bug (discovered this fly two months ago when I ran out of green raiders)
Red raiders (is it a copper john or a prince nymph in red armor?)
Zebra midges (number one choice of fish at Lee's Ferry)
Funny the difference a year makes. A year ago, I almost exclusively fished leeches, buggers, and prince nymphs if I couldn't get bit on a dry. Now the Prince doesn't even make my top ten list. Last year, I didn't even know what an emerger was. This year I probably fished them on every trip.
And the depth charge . . . when Lenny showed me one this spring, right before we rigged up at river's edge, I was skeptical to say the least. To my surprise, I caught two nice 'bows in three casts. But I am not a fan of the indicator rig, so I quickly put my stock of DCs in storage.
Then came the Utah Trip. Where I learned two things about Bird's Nest Depth Charges: bigger is better, and more is more. As in big fly, with lots of hair, tails, horns, and legs is very appetizing to big trout. Check that, I learned three things: I can fish a DC without a bobber, making it a lot more appetizing to me. Maybe even to the fish.
At any rate, there's my list. At least for this year.
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn." ~Chuck Clark
1. Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear
2. Pheasant Tail
3. Copper John
4. Prince or Zug Bug
5. Hornberg Special
6. Beadhead Caddis Emerger
7. Grey Hackle Yellow or Partridge and Yellow
8. Leadwing Coachman
9. English March Brown
10. Wooly Bugger