Fly of the Month: Blue Winged Olive Dry Fly

by Pat Neuner, Wapsi Product Development Manager

For many anglers March is the beginning of the “dry fly season” and most areas of the country have some type of Baetis mayfly hatching on their favorite streams.  Although there are over a dozen different Baetis mayflies in the family Baetidae – most anglers commonly refer to these mayflies by either their genus name (Baetis) or refer to them more commonly as Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s).  Since I am a fishermen (and not an entomologist) I will use the more common term among fly fishermen.

BWO’s hatch on a multitude of stream types and under a variety of conditions–  Generally speaking most of the “bugs” can be imitated with flies ranging in size from 14 – 24.   Some anglers take great care to tie nymph, emerger, and dry fly patterns to exacting standards in hopes of accurately imitate the appearance and habits of the species that is most common on their home waters.  I take a different approach and prefer to simplify my offering by using a generic nymph, emerger, and dry fly that seems to work on most of the streams I’ve fished.  In my book, there is no better “generic” dry fly that the classic Blue Winged Olive Dry Fly.

Here is the recipe for this classic pattern:


Hook:  Lightning Strike DF1 size 14 – 24

Thread:  UTC Olive (70 Denier)

Tail:  Dark Dun Mayfly Tails or Hackle

Body:  Superfine Dry Fly Dubbing (Olive or BWO)

Wing:  Dark Dun Hackle Tips

Hackle:  Medium to Dark Dun