RIO's Gum Dropper

RIO Fly Designer Patrick Kilby


Photo courtesy of Waters West Fly Shop.

Gum Drops are colorful, soft, fruit-flavored candies that are enjoyed by people all over. RIO’s Gum Droppers are colorful, soft hackled flies with fruit flavor colors that are enjoyed by trout all over.

When I designed this pattern for RIO, I was first looking for a #10 tungsten beaded soft hackle that I could swing on a trout Spey outfit. I started with the orange/brown color and a matte black bead to represent October Caddis Pupa and this size/color is still my favorite to fish. I called this color Rootbeer since it had a rich honey/vanilla bean look to it, much like my favorite root beer. Sometimes I’ll fish a second, smaller version higher up my leader but even when I do most of my fish are caught on the bottom fly. I fish this style with an interesting twist on the regular technique - as the fly swings across the current I employ a series of micro twitches to make the fly jig ever so slightly.


I liked how this fly performed on the swing, so I decided to see how small I could make it. I took it down to a size 16 and was able to keep proportions the same. Once I could see in these smaller sizes, I realized that the same rootbeer color would work well for some caddis and PMD emergers.

I then added the Watermelon color since olive colors represent caddis and baetis. I was going to stop here, but I spun up some pop colors just for fun. As I took a lap around our building showing our staff (who are vastly experienced in all things fly fishing) there was plenty of excitement for the pop colors over the drab buggy colors. So along came the Bubblegum (pink), Cherry (red), Grape (purple) and Licorice (black).


When it comes to sizes, the smaller sizes (14-16) are best as a dropper behind a foam bug. When tied under such a bug, the soft hackles kick and pulse and it looks like an insect is swimming downstream toward the surface – which is very effective indeed. The size 12’s are that in between size and are best when larger bugs like green drakes or March browns are hatching, or prepping to hatch, and the 10’s, as I mentioned, are great on the trout Spey.

It might sound like these flies are only for the river angler, but if you are a stillwater angler, don’t leave these flies behind. Anyone who likes to troll or cast/retrieve flies in a lake, will certainly appreciate having these with them, as the colors and sizes cover a whole range of lake foods – from midges to damsels to mayflies. All these patterns can be covered with this fly.


I never use these as my point fly when Euro nymphing since it’s not on a jig hook, but I will use it as a dropper. It’s super buggy and the tungsten bead helps keep it in the zone. I do the same thing with the Tung Dart.

RIO’s Gum Dropper can be found in many fly shops across the United States, as well as online. It has proven itself as a very versatile, buggy looking tungsten soft hackle, and if you haven’t got any in your box, now is a good time to get a few for the upcoming season.