This list should really be broken down into categories like dry-fly, nymphs, trout versus bass, etc. etc. But I am lazy tonite and will just throw this list out there to see what, if any, comments I will receive. Perhaps I can be persuaded to adjust the list as it was only a one Guinness project. Also, please note I am a self-admitted dry fly bigot. As such, nymphers will no doubt be shocked by this list!
#1 Adams Wulff
This dry-fly imitates so many different hatches it is simply an awesome summertime fly. I have probably hooked more trout on this fly than any other because I love to fish it and it works well in so many different conditions. Tied to a well designed leader and cast by a good fly rod, this fly can be landed as delicate as a feather. The white wings are much easier to see than the plain Adams and it appears to work just as well if not better. Put me on a river in Colorado with this fly tied onto my Beasley 4 wt bamboo rod, and it's heaven on Earth. I caught my only grand slam (a brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and brookie) all in one day and all on this fly.
#2 Wooly Bugger
I have caught some of my biggest trout on wooly buggers. For trout, black and olive/black seems to work best. For the white bass run of the Texas Hill country, white with a couple strands of silver/grey flash. A great all-around fly for lakes or rivers. Best worked with short quick strips. Caught a nice Trappers Lake native cutthroat this year on a black & olive wooly bugger.
#3 Orange Stimulator / Hopper
Another great dry-fly which imitates many bugs and terrestials. I lumped it in with the generic "hopper" because the two flies fish the same and are in effect interchangeable (in my experience). Like choice #1, this is a great summertime fly which can produce lightnin' violent strikes. Brown trout especially seem to hit this fly with pure abandon. I highly recommend this fly on the Arkansas River in the Salida area - the hotter the weather the better. Fluff up the wings as wide and big as possible and keep the body from getting waterlogged with some schtank. Don' be shy to try an occaisional "splat" cast as sometimes this will provoke the larger browns.
#4 Zebra Midge
The zebra midge can work magic under the right conditions. It's fairly easy to tie and is a must-have in every fly-box. I've caught fish on southern U.S. tailwater rivers (Caney Fork, Clinch), Colorado lakes (Trappers, Meadow) and on famous trout streams (Fryingpan). A #20 dropped off your favorite dry-fly is a great combination for early morning fishing before warmer temperatures really turn on the dry fly action.
#5 Yellow Humpy
A great fly for summertime Colorado trout as well as pan-fish down south. Imitates many hatches and I believe the yellow triggers strike response.
#6 Copper John
I am a self-admitted dry-fly bigot, but when forced to nymph the copper john can produce results. If I can catch a fish on this nymph, anyone can as I am not the best high-sticker by any means.
#7 Green Drake
I don't use this fly much, but I have had a few fantastic and very memorable experiences. The first was on the lower Fryingpan River when I hit the drake hatch in full glory. I fished for 3 hours in the evening and lasted 30 minutes past sunset. I would cast the fly out and just listen for the toilet plunger sound of the trout gorging it then bam! Hookset. Great fun! Also, I hit a rare green drake hatch on the Conejos river were I worked 20 yards of river upstream and caught a trout about every 3 feet. The picture shown is an extended body drake - not necessary and not preferred (bigger to cast, makes a bigger splash, and gets torn-up anyhow after several fish). Stick with the regular body green drake, but always have one on you in case you are lucky enough to come upon this hatch. You may find the trout will not take anything else. They must be very tasty!
#8 Royal Wulff
This fly is similar to the Adams Wulff but has a red stripe and is somewhat heavier. It therefore lands a bit splashier. Hoewver, for high mountain hungry brookies, this fly can be a real winner
#9 StoneFly Nymph
This fly is a must if fishing the Conejos river. The trout there can be very finicky. One day you can tear the fish up on dries, the next - nothing! During such times if you see any signs of fresh stoneflies on the rocks, just tie on this nymph and hold on! The bigger fish will head straight for the swift water, and you'll lose your share - so, bring at least a half-dozen. Brown seems to work as well as black for me.
#10 Clauser Minnow
The Clauser Minnow is a great fly and easily tied. It would be higher on my list were it not for the weight, which makes it not too fun to fish. That said, it's a great fly for white bass when they are holding down. However, try the white wooly every so often cause it is much easier to fish and when tied with flash, is very similar to a Clauser without the weighted eyes.
Comments? Feedback? I have probably left a few of my favorite flies off this list - but just try slimming your list of flies down to just 10!
Tight lines buddy-boy!