Newbie question on fly recognition

Thread starter #1
Okay I fished with someone who was helping me get started last summer. He would just hand me a fly to tie on and show me how to throw it and fish it. I went home and bought a few, okay a bunch, of flies that looked like or similar to what he had in his box. Now the question--

How do I tell whether they are dry flies or wet flies?

Are there a test I can do? What do I look for? etc. Thanks
You can tell dries from wets by the hackles. The dries have hackles that are wound around the fly as a "wing." Just do a internet search for dry flies and you will see what I am talking about.


The dries will usually have stiff hackles, while the wets have soft, webby hackle that is usually swept back.


Senior Member
Yep, I can still remember dealing with this problem. I "studied" the Orvis catalog, which always has good quality Picts.

But, the real answer is, you really don’t need a bunch of flies. We all have a handful of essential flies, but for trout fishing I find about all I need are:
Elk Hair Caddis size 14
Parachute Adams size 16
Pheasant Tail nymph size 14
Hares Ear nymph size 12
Black Woolley Bugger size 8

Buy good quality dry flies (first two on list) and floatant so they will float. With fewer flies in your box to choose from, it doesn’t take long to figure out what the trout want.