Starter Fly Box

When putting together a starter fly box I wanted flies that will be in every fly shop. These are flies that will catch fish on almost any river, anywhere in the country. Some of these flies have even been around since the 1800's and still catch fish today. 

Flies are measured by the size of the hook in increments of 2. The larger the number, the smaller the fly; a size 20 is smaller then an 18. 

The NoCoFF Starter Fly Box is now available in the store. The boxes are available in 26 flies for $34.99, 50 flies for $59.99 and 100 flies for $100. Check out the Starter Fly Box at the store.

Mayflies -Dry

Parachute Adams

Sizes 14, 16 and 18

The original fly, the Adams, was created in 1922 and is one of the more famous flies in history. This is a general dry fly pattern which will produce for mayflies, midges and will fool most surface feeders. The parachute pattern rides lower in the water and I find it easier to see with the post.

Baetis (BWO) Blue-winged Olive

Sizes 16 and 18

This is a specific species of mayfly which can be found almost all year around here in the Rockies. It tends to be a small fly and likes to hatch in bad weather in rivers and lakes. This is another fly I like in a parachute pattern. Look to local fly shops for the local colors.

Mayfly - Nymphs

Pheasant Tail and Bead-head Flashback Pheasant Tail

Sizes 14 and 16

This fly was first created around the late 1800's in England and has not changed much. Get this pattern in both the original pattern(Pheasant Tail) and the weighted, updated pattern (Bead-head Flashback Pheasant Tail) for the starter fly box. 

Caddis - Dry

Elk Hair Caddis

Size 14 and 16

This is another fly that has been around for a long time. You could get this fly in several body colors like olive or black and make sure you have plenty in the summer time.

Goddard Caddis

Size 14 and 16

This fly is still tied with elk hair but the hair is spun on the hook. Most shops have this pattern but my first choice would be a Puterbaugh Caddis. A Puterbaugh is tied with foam and floats better but is not available everywhere. 

Caddis - Nymph

Hares Ear and Bead-head Hares Ear

Sizes 16 and 18

I hate to tie this fly and buy my Hares Ears in bulk. You have to mix hairs from the mask of a rabbit and dub them onto the body. Get both the weighted and unweighted patterns in the different sizes for your starter fly box. 

Stoneflies - Dry

Chernobyl Ant

Sizes 8 and 10

This is a large foam fly that should have no business catching fish but it does. My friend who now lives in Sol, Korea can pull fish out with this fly all the time and it never ceases to amaze me.

Chew Toy - Orange

Sizes 10 and 12

This is a pattern well know in the Fort Collins fly shops and other places around the state. It is a simulator with foam wings, rubber legs and floats well in a dry/dropper rig. Similar to my favorite fly, the PMX, I have plenty of these in my box. 

Stonefly - Nymphs

Twenty Incher

Sizes 8 and 10

This stonefly nymph is also found in the beginner tying books. When looking for it at several shops I was surprised that it was not available. It is easy to find online but has been replaced by other flys in the shops. What is important is that you get a black stonefly pattern. I like it tied with beads and with extra weight to get it to the bottom.

Golden Stone

Sizes 8 and 10

This is just a type of stonefly not a specific name of a fly. Most patterns you find have a lot of detail and just choose one that catches your eye. 

Midge - Dry

Griffith's Gnat

Sizes 18 and 20

This is a very simple tie with just peacock and hackle. I just do not like to tie them because of the size. Also if you get one with a colored post it will be easier to see on the water.

Parachute Adams

Size 20

You can also use this fly with Trico mayfly hatches and on still water lakes. I would not go any smaller the size 20's for your starter fly box, they get very hard to see at that size.


Midge - Nymph

Zebra Nymph

Sizes 18 and 20

I tie 20 of these flies at a sitting, with a tread body and copper wire, it is a very fast tie. Get it in black and red.

RS - 2

Sizes 18 and 20

I never know if this is a dry fly or a nymph but I have caught fish with it both ways. Just another staple for the starter fly box. 

Terrestrials and Simulators - Drys

Simulator – Yellow

Sizes 12 and 14

If you got the Chew Toy pattern with an orange body then get this pattern in yellow. Get the original first then choose a couple with legs or flash also.

Foam Hopper(Charlie Boy)

Sizes 10 and 12

Any foam hopper will do, the Charlie Boy is a local pattern and I like the way it looks.

Black Ant

Sizes 16 and 18

There are many different kinds of ant patterns, just make sure you have black and red in your starter fly box.

Royal Wolf

Sizes 14 and 16

This was the first fly I caught a trout on with a fly rod and has always been a favorite. A pattern you could also choose is a Humpy, in royal or yellow colors.

Terrestrials and Simulators - Nymphs

Copper John (Red)

Sizes 14 and 16

This is a newer pattern that has quickly become an all time favorite. I find red produces the most fish but make sure you eventually pick up the other colors and sizes for your starter fly box.

Prince Nymph

Sizes 14 and 16

I like this pattern with a bead-head to get it to the bottom faster but the regular pattern works well also.

Woolly Bugger

Sizes 8 and 10

This pattern I also like with a bead-head and some flash in the tail as I do not like adding weight to my line to get the flies down.

San Juan Worm

Sizes 14 and 16

If you want to tie a simple fly, this is it. Yarn on a hook, done. Unless you want to add that bead for weight. 



This is just a good starting point and there are many more patterns to choose from.





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