Fly Tying Tutorial: Catskill Dry Fly

I am not trying to pretend this is anything like the original dry flies that were used in the Catskill Mountains, but it’s something I like to tie that is kind of close. This isn’t even going after any one bug in particular, but lucky for me the fish in my neck of the woods aren’t very smart. This could easily be changed in various ways to try an match any local mayflies. It’s a relatively easy tie with only a couple materials and many substitutions. Hopefully after reading this you give it a go and put your own little spin on it.


Hook: Barbless Dry Fly Hook Size 10-18

Thread: 70D colour to match

Wing: Mallard Flank Feathers

Hackle: Coachman Brown

Tail: Coachman Brown Hackle Fibers

Body: All Purpose Dry Fly Dubbing


Step One:

Get the thread started on the hook and finish two eye lengths behind the eye.

Step Two:

Take two mallard flank feathers roughly the same size and strip off all the fuzzy stuff. Stoke all the fibers forward on the feathers and tie one of them in slightly on the far side of the hook shank. The amount of the feather poking out the front should be roughly the hook shank length. Repeat this step, but the second feather should be slightly on the near side of the shank.

Step Three:

Using your thumbnail push the wings into a standing position and create a small thread dam in front of them to hold them up right. The thread dam does not have to be perfect, just enough to push them up a bit. Now split the two feathers into their own little wing pods, again perfection is not required here. Then wrap thread around the base of each wing to gather them up. These thread wraps can also be used to tease the wings into the correct position.

Step Four:

Take your thread towards the back end of the fly just to where the bend begins. Pull off 12-20 fibers from a longer barbed coachman brown hackle and tie them in as the tail. I like the tail to be about the entire length of the hook, not just the shank.

Step Five:

Select a hackle from your coachman brown cape. This is a little personal preference in my opinion, but I went with a hackle that measured as a #12 on a hackle gauge. Tie the feather in about one eye length behind your wings to allow for a good amount of wraps later.

Step Six:

Take your thread to the back of the fly again. Grab your dubbing of choice and start with a thin dubbing noodle. As you move forward on the fly increase the size of the dubbing noodle or make overlapping wraps to get that nice taper towards the wing. Don’t crowd the eye as bad as I did either. =(

Step Seven:

With either your hand or hackle pliers get ahold of the hackle and start making wraps moving forward. I like to get about 4 behind the wing and 2 in front. Once you are happy with your wraps capture the hackle with your thread and tie it off. Trim the excess hackle away and give it a 3-5 turn whip finish. That’s all there is to this one! Now tie up an army of them and get out there and fish!