Workshop Overview

Dry Flies That Work: The Art and Science of Tying Effective Dry Flies with Duncan Rose

Fly fishing – and, consequently, fly tying – has been around for at least 2000 years. Over 10,000 documented patterns are said to now exist. But…which flies work “best”?

Fly tying is, at its heart, an art form, ranging from the rigorously imitative to the impressionistic–and even to the whimsical.  While the how to tie a pattern is critically important, underlying the how is the “why”, why a given dry fly triggers a “take response” better, floats longer, sits on the water better, is more visible – that is, is more effective at catching trout.

This course examines the why underlying the art – why certain designs work better than others; more fundamentally, how science and art converge on the creation of effective dry flies.

May 12, 2018
9 – 4 PM

$25.00 Registration Fee

Mancos Public Library / Mancos, Colorado

Minimum 3 students; Maximum 10 students

Workshop Outline:


  • Introductions
  • The trout and its basic ecological context
  • A brief history of dry flies
  • What makes an effective dry fly?
  • What triggers a trout to take a dry fly?
  • What do trout see?
  • Do trout learn?
  • What makes dry flies – or anything – float?
  • Summary take-away points: the effective dry fly


  • Putting the concepts to work:
    • Hands on:  Tying the “Skinny Cat”
    • How to “De-construct” a fly pattern
    • Hands on:  Tying the “SlamDunc”
    • Design techniques that improve effectiveness
    • Hands-on: Critiquing of a range of patterns
  • Feedback, closure

Note: This class focuses on understanding what makes an effective dry fly; it is not necessarily meant as an intro “how-to” course on basic fly tying. Ideally, participants would already have some (even if minimal) exposure to fly tying. That said, the class should also be very useful to persons with no particular interest in or experience with tying flies but who wish to understand better how and why files are designed and constructed and what to look for in selecting effective flies to buy/use from the thousands of patterns available. And those simply interested in the science of the trout and the dry fly.

Duncan Rose

About the Instructor:
Duncan has been fly fishing for over 60 years and tying all of his flies since 2005. A resident of the Mancos, Colorado area since 2010, Duncan focuses on dry fly fishing for wild trout in local headwater streams. He has joyfully and reverently fished most of the trout-inhabited tributaries to the Dolores, Animas, Mancos and the La Platta Rivers. He’s taught classes in fly tying, rod building, and basic fly fishing with the Dolores River Anglers chapter of Trout Unlimited (where he is a past president and currently the Conservation Co-Chair). Over the past five years he has become an avid Japanese Tenkara style fly angler. All proceeds above course costs will be contributed to Trout Unlimited.

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Workshop Details
Course ID : Dry Flies Duncan May12
Date : Saturday / May 12th
Place : Mancos Public Library
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Duncan Rose
Duncan Rose