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When buying or tying emerger patterns, either choose one to imitate the hatches you expect to see on your next trip, or get an assortment in a variety of colors and sizes. If you aren’t sure what to expect, make sure to have some mayfly patterns in tan in sizes 12 and 14; cream or yellow in sizes 16, 18, and 20; olive in sizes 16, 18, and 20. For caddis hatches, drab brown-and-yellow and brown-and -green or just drab gray-brown in sizes 14, 16, and 18 will cover almost all hatches. For midges, carry cream, black, olive, and gray in sizes 20 and 24. Don’t forget that fly tiers can get the recipes for all of the fly patterns listed here just by clicking the links.

Mayfly Emergers

  • Emerging Para Dun. Developed by my fishing pal Pat Neuner, this CDC fly is terrific on flat water when the fish are really picky. You can also buy these flies in a selection that includes the best sizes and colors.(39R2)
  • RS2. Possibly the best emerger imitation for tiny mayflies, especially small olives. Developed in Colorado by noted fly tier Rim Chung.
  • Sparkle Dun. This one floats high and combines a shuck with an upright wing of deer hair. Developed by world-class fisherman and fly tier Craig Matthews of West Yellowstone, Montana. My favorite for fast, broken water. 
  • Klinkhammer. A European fly that has become very popular in the States. It’s a combination of an attractor fly and an emerger, and seems to work best when you are not quite sure what the fish are eating.

Caddis Emerger

  • LaFontaine Sparkle Pupa. One of the best flies ever developed for caddis pupa emergers, by the late Gary LaFontaine, one of the finest fly-fishing gentlemen of our generation.

Midge Emerger

  • Birchell’s Hatching Midge. One of a myriad of fine midge emerger patterns, this one is the one I use most often and it seldom fails me. Don’t fish any tailwater river without a selection of these.