50 - Going Large: 6 Brilliant Big Dry Flies & How to Fish Them

While finesse certainly has its place in fly fishing, there’s something delicious about tricking fish on big, meaty dry flies! Whether that means trout or chub taking hoofing great sedges or daddies, or even presenting creepy crawlies such as caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers, “going large” is irresistible fun.

At times, even modest trout will take a good mouthful.

Even with the bigger scale of such dry fly patterns, however, small details matter. You can’t just launch out a floating beastie, after all, and expect it to be devoured. So how is it best to fish these extra large floating fly patterns, and which are the best of them to try first? Here’s our quick rundown of top tips, followed by a selection of our favourite killer flies to order from our online shop.  


  1. Step up your leaders and tippets
    While so much fly fishing is about using the lightest tackle you can get away with, big dries are not best served on gossamer thin leaders and tippets. A good starting point is tapered leader of minimum 5lbs, which you could even shorten a little to just 7-8ft, to boost good turnover. Go too fine and you can guarantee that your tippet will kink and weaken with the strain of repeated casting, so do yourself a favour and step it up. Similarly, with fly lines you wouldn’t want to drop below a four or five weight to cast bigger flies.

You won’t go far wrong to start with simple, robust tapered leaders.


  1. Try a twitch or a plop!
    One of the joys of fishing big flies such as terrestrials is that you can be more provocative and aggressive than you would with tiny patterns. In doing so, you can also throw away one or two classic rules such as fishing dead drift and getting flies to land gently.

   On the contrary, giving a meaty dry fly a twitch or two can be excellent (think about it, a drowning grasshopper or wasp doesn’t pass quietly!). At certain times, you can even try slapping the fly down rather than trying to gently parachute it. Chub, in particular, love this trick!

  1. Target old big mouth, the chub
    Trout will certainly take a big fly on occasion. In New Zealand, for example, they will feed on cicadas and other creatures that make our standard flies look truly puny! UK trout will happily take beetles, grasshoppers and other big snacks when available, however.

   If you love fishing large dries regularly, another must is to go for chub. These fish love a good mouthful and are one of the most willing takers of all when it comes to presenting the biggest dries in your fly box (just watch this footage from Turrall’s Dom Garnett!). Indeed, who cares if they’re “coarse” fish, when they’re such fabulous sport?

If you’re not sure where to start, we sell a set of flies specially designed for chub!

  1. Hit the cover

There are locations on any water where fish will expect bigger “accidents” to happen. Whether it’s overhanging bushes on a lake shore, or a high, overgrown bank on the river, try to identify where fish will expect land borne insects or “terrestrials” to fall in. These areas are perfect for the likes of beetles, wasps and grasshoppers.

Try tight corners and busy, bushy water with larger flies.

  1. Try a “little and large” team of two

Another great trick to try with big flies is to fish them as a duo with another dry fly. This tactic is quite common in America, but we seldom see it in the UK. A shame, because it can work a treat!

   Your set up is simple- set up a simple extra dropper and try a big, visual dry fly alongside a much smaller pattern. Quite often, the fish will be drawn in to have a look at the bigger fly, while the smaller pattern gives them a subtler mouthful.

Six extra large dry flies to try this season

X-Stimulator (£0.85)

Now here’s a lovely, leggy mouthful! Grabbing an already meaty fly and adding rubber appendages makes this one an excellent choice when you want to really kick up a stink. 

Chernobyl Ant (£1.19)

The original “Goodness me look at the bloody size of that thing” floating fly pattern! It looks crazy, but don’t dismiss its powers to bring up aggressive trout and chub, even if it would scare your mother.

Jasper (£1.49)

 Do fish eat wasps? If you’ve ever seen a wasps nest on the river bank and watched chub or trout react when one falls in, you’ll know the answer! Sure, it looks crazy, but this is a lovely provocative fly to try when others fail. Simply brilliant for chub.

Green caterpillar (£1.79)

On any bushy stream, fish know exactly what caterpillars are! Fished well greased, this fly is ideal for presenting around cover for both trout and chub.

Fire beetle (£0.95)

A little more refined in a size 14, this is nevertheless a great mouthful that can be judiciously waked to annoy the fish.

Foam Longlegs (£1.19)

Trout and angler alike love a daddy, right? However, this pattern takes a winning fly to the next level, with deer hair making it float even better. Perfect for tweaking or pulling across the top, whether you’re on a river or a wild loch, especially if the real thing is present in numbers.