Tips to Help you See Your Dry Flies On the Water

This post was last updated on October 7th, 2014 at 06:59 pm

Fishing in Colorado with small dry flies for trout

Whether your eyes are showing signs of age, you are simply being forced by the trout to cast ridiculously small flies (or both), these small tricks will help you keep your eyes on the flies even at long distances.

Coloring your Flies Parachute Can Greatly Increase it’s Visibility

Coloring the parachute of a small dry fly can make it much more visible from a distance.
Just a small dash of pink or yellow on the parachute of your fly can make it easy to find in a sea of bubbles.

Typically you are casting your flies into foam or bubbly feeding lanes because that is where the trout tend to lie, but what if your flies parachute is white and it looks exactly like the foam? That’s easy.. Paint it up! A quick color change of the parachute will make your fly very easy to distinguish from the white foam and bubbles it is floating amongst. I have never noticed fish to mind a colorful parachute, because it is out of the line of sight for the trout, besides.. if you can’t see your fly, you might as well not bother casting at the fish.

My favorite color parachute is pink, it seems to be the easiest to see, but I do like orange and yellow as well. Keeping a set of markers on the river is always a good idea, just in case you need to change the color of flies to match the hatch.

Using a Spotter Fly

Using a bright fly in front of a smaller fly will help you keep an eye on your smaller dry flies
Using a bright fly in front of a smaller fly will help you keep an eye on your smaller dry flies. Tie 12 to 18 inches of tippet between the 2 bugs.

Fishing with a small fly that is not a parachute is sometimes the only option, so in this case your best choice of action is to tie on 2 flies. The first fly should be highly visible such as a colored parachute pictured above. You can also use a hopper or a foam chernobyl ant pattern. I find that many people cannot keep the second fly floating while fishing with a heavy foam pattern in the front, a certain type of dragging mend will almost always pull fly #2 under water. In this case your best option is to use a semi large colorful parachute pattern as the first fly. Thus should prevent the dragging/sinking of the second fly underwater.


I took an older gentleman on a guide trip this summer and no matter what fly he put out there he said he could not see it. I asked him what color he could see the best out of the entire spectrum and he responded with ” I can see yellow pretty good”. I painted up a white chernobyl bright yellow and he had the best day of fishing he has had in 20 years. Being able to see the fly in front of you is a critical, so next time you have a hard time keeping an eye on your trout flies, try these small, but helpful tricks.