Fly fishing tips

Spring Fly Fishing: Pre Run Off

Spring is an excellent time of year to be fly fishing in Colorado and while the warmer temps can bring higher off color water don’t let it keep you from fishing. Here are a few fly fishing tips that might help you keep the rod bent during pre run off season in Colorado.

Watch the gauge – Generally your highest water levels will be around midnight and start to drop slightly after. The drop will usually continue until the following afternoon when the water will start to come rise again. What you are looking for is consistency. Fish like gradual change not drastic change. If you see a big bump of water chances are you can expect fishing to be a little slow. Give the water some time to level out before heading to the river. You will see these big bumps once we start having warmer weather day after day. This will eventually lead to full on run off. But until then keep an eye on the water gauge and focus your fishing efforts during the drop.

Spring Water Gauge Colorado
Spring Water Gauge Colorado

Water Types – Higher water will move some fish around so be sure to fish areas that you may have over looked a month ago. Shallow riffles and pocket water are now holding a lot of fish, these areas can be really productive especially when streamer fishing. Look for rising fish in slower pockets, pools and seam during the warmer parts of the day. Blue Winged Olives and Midges are dominating the hatch scene right now but expect Caddis to make and appearance real soon. On the right days the dry fly fishing can be some of the best all year.

Flies – Bigger water means we can start introducing larger nymphs and streamers. The faster river overturns rocks and old logs pushing Stonefly Nymphs, Caddis Larvae and Sculpins down the river. Streamer fishing can be excellent this time of year, especially in faster water. Black, Olive, Natural, Yellow and White colored streamers are good spring colors to be moving through the all water types. Nymphing can be lights out as well. Pats rubber leg, Prince Nymphs and SJ Worms are excellent attractor flies trailed by smaller mayfly imitations. As the water continues to rise fish will get pushed to the banks so be sure to fish those close pockets before wading into them.

Pat's Rubber Leg
Pat’s Rubber Leg

Tippet – Beef up your tippet. Fish are not quite as picky with the off colored water so take advantage of it and bring out the 3x-4x. This will help you put the breaks on fish who get out in the faster water and allow you to pull a little harder when bringing that big rainbow to the net.

Colorado Rainbow Trout Caught on #20 Blue Winged Olive Dry Fly
Colorado Rainbow Trout Caught on #20 Blue Winged Olive Dry Fly

Use Your Head – The water gets very dangerous this time of year so whether you are floating our wading keep an eye out for debris floating down the river. Know your limitations and be safe. We often forget how powerful the water can be once it is above your knees, some spots you could cross a month ago are now too deep and taking a swim this time of year could be fatal.

Enjoy Fly Fishing in Colorado this spring and feel free to share some of your favorite Spring fly fishing tips with us. See you on the water.

5 QuickTips for Fly Fishing Highly Pressured Waters

Colorado has many thousands of miles of streams and rivers that are great for trout fly fishing, but there are certain stretches—mainly our fantastic tailwaters—that receive the majority of the angling pressure. Do not let a highly pressured river, and its “educated” trout, intimidate you as there are many different tactics you can take to stack the odds in your favor. Here are a handful.

Be Patient: Before you think about wetting your line, take a step back and observe the water. Too often we rush into fishy looking water and spook large trout that were along the bank or we rigged up at the car and have the wrong setup on. 5 quick tips 1When you arrive at the river look for insects hatching, or whether the fish are feeding in tailouts or the head of riffles. Observe the surrounding weather so you’ll know which fly patterns will work best with cloud coverage. A simple two minutes of observation before you make your first cast may tip you to a flash in the tailout that turns into a 22 inch rainbow!

Adaptation is Crucial: The river is a living, moving organism that can change day-by-day and certainly hour-by-hour. As anglers we must be prepared to make the necessary adjustments throughout the day, especially on a highly pressured river. This could be as simple as switching from a dry fly setup to a subsurface nymph rig, but it can also be more complex than that. Adjusting your weight on a nymph rig, changing the size of your fly patterns (smaller is usually better), and noting when trout are moving from deep water into riffles should have you playing a mental game of chess. And in this game of adjustment there is nothing more useful than good old fashioned observation.

Use Fluorocarbon: There are many occasions in which you’ll want to have the Nylon v Fluorocarbon leader and tippet debate. But when fishing a highly pressured river, such as The Taylor River where the fish can get extremely large and extremely skittish, you’ll want every advantage you can get. 5 quick tips 2The light refractive index of Fluorocarbon tippet is very similar to that of fresh water so when it’s submerged in a river it is almost near invisible to a trout’s eye. This element of Fluorocarbon makes it essential to fishing highly pressured river and its trout.

Be a River Ninja: You’re going to want to be as stealthy as possible when fly fishing water that receives an excessive amount of angling pressure. This starts with your approach into any given run or riffle. Trout have a blind spot, and it’s directly behind them, so begin your presentation at the tailout of the riffle and make upstream presentations, so as to keep out of their periphery. Also, wear colors that blend in with your surroundings. During winter I like to wear gray jackets, during spring I’ll wear more green colored shirts. Match your environment!

Sunglasses Matter: Using polarized sunglasses will allow you as an angler to cut through the glare of river and will help you identify what the heck is going on down there! In a highly pressured river, fishing “fishy” water will occasionally get you the lucky trout, but to be a truly effective angler on these waters requires you to be able to sight fish to feeding trout. You need to be able to spot feeding trout and their movements so you know exactly where your cast, mend, and presentation should be. Point being, I’d rather leave my waders at home than my polarized shades.