Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fly Fishing Playoffs (Terrestrial Division)

In the cycle of seasons, it is approaching that time of year when the evening twilight sneaks in noticeably earlier. Some anglers get a natural feeling that the season is ending and it is time to hang up their 'uniforms', but for many fly fisherman this time of year signifies the end of the regular season and the start of the 'playoffs'. This change can generally be marked with exceptional terrestrial fishing on many of the rivers throughout the Rockies.

Making this transition can involve some giggling at the sight of these of big, colorful and often wiggly looking patterns made of foam, rubber, hair and unimaginable list of ingredients. It seems as if a switch is flipped and the same fish that seemed to thoroughly investigate the delicate mayfly pattern for any sign of unnatural ‘behavior’ is now erupting on fly patterns that resemble small balloon animals.

Just about every river in our network is reporting great action on these silly looking patterns during portions of the day. Particular patterns and times of day are varying from place to place but here are some tips to that will increase your success at your local ‘stadium’:

1) Use the appropriate tippet size. Many of these patterns are big and wind resistant which will need to have a stiffer line to help the fly turnover and prevent ‘twisting’.

2) Use shorter leaders. By using leaders no longer than 8ft. will increase accuracy and allow for a rapid turnover of the pattern to create the “splashy” presentation of falling terrestrials.

3) Present under and around structure. Even if you don’t see risers, some of the larger fish will be hunkered in and around good structure and will leave these safe havens for a floating ‘bratwurst’.

4) Make sure your pattern is lying flat on the surface. Many of these patterns use rubber legs which make an “X” when sitting on the water properly. If your fly is drifting on one side give it a little ‘tug’ to straighten out the ‘lie’.

5) Use terrestrials as an indicator. Tie on different lengths of tippet to the end of a terrestrial pattern and drop a nymph or emerger pattern below. This will allow you to fish more of the water column.

6) Pinch down your barb. By removing the barb on larger hooks you will increase the ability to penetrate the mouth and minimize damage to the fish.

Of course, these tips will only be helpful if you get out to the river and be committed to throwing these types of patterns. Fortunately, unlike the playoffs in other sports, the ‘win or go home’ is optional.

For specifics on the terrestrial fishing conditions around the Rocky Mountain Region visit our website: http://www.flycurrents.com

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fishing Green Drakes In The Roaring Fork Valley Article #1

From late June all the way into October, anglers from around the country flock to the Roaring Fork Valley in search of one of the West’s largest mayflies, the Green Drake. Due to the hefty size of this mayfly, fish throw caution to the winds as they voraciously feed on these delicious insects. The Green Drakes of the Roaring Fork Valley are unique in the fact that we have fishable hatches of drakes for about four months annually. Other western fisheries have good drake hatches as well, although they typically only last for a week or two. We have three main species of Green Drakes, the ephemerellidae grandis, doddsi, and the coloradensis. In addition, we also have the smaller Green Drake cousin the flavilinea. One does not need to know the Latin names of these insects as they are all similar in appearance and inhabit similar types of water. Flies for one species of drake will fish equally well for another species.

Green Drake nymphs prefer to live in fast-water environments and are perfectly built for that habitat. These nymphs belong to the clinger-crawler families and are seldom swept away by the river. As the nymphs get ready for emergence, they make the transition to more moderate and slower moving waters. Green Drake nymphs are lousy swimmers, so they often need to make multiple attempts to reach the surface and emerge. It’s during this struggle that they are extremely vulnerable to trout. Our favorite pattern to imitate the Green Drake nymph is a pattern that was invented in the Roaring Fork Valley, the infamous 20 Incher. This versatile pattern not only imitates Green Drake nymphs very well, but it also closely resembles the darker colored Stoneflies, prolific at this time of year as well. Mike Mercer’s realistic Poxyback Green Drake is another effective imitation, as are old stand-by’s like the impressionistic Brown Hackle Peacock. Many of the nymphs split their wing cases open below the surface of the water. Since their wings may protrude while they are on or near the river’s bottom prior to surfacing, winged emerger patterns such as Shane Stalcup’s Winged Drake Emerger or Quill Wing Drake Emergers are effective dropper patterns, whether fished below your drake nymph or drake dry fly. Often times, especially on the Frying Pan River where food is plentiful, fish will not be willing to move far to take a drifting nymph. When this happens, precise dead drifts are mandatory for effective nymph fishing .

The Green Drake Adults or Duns of the Roaring Fork Valley are unique in that they are actually not very green in body color. Green Drake patterns that are effective on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, for example, are not nearly as effective on the Roaring Fork, Colorado or Frying Pan Rivers. The body color of the duns we typically see is more gray-tan/olive than green. Because of that, the majority of the flies we find effective are often called “Colorado Green Drake”, referring to that unique body color. Matching body color is certainly more important when fishing Green Drakes during midday hatches like those we typically find on the Frying Pan and periodically on the Roaring Fork.

On the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers, most of the Green Drakes hatch at dusk in the fading light of the evening hours. During the dubbed “lightning rounds” body silhouette and low maintenance flies (high floating flies tied with materials that don’t need constant attention with floatants) far outweigh body color. After all, you want to be fishing, not pampering your flies with floatants. As the old saying goes, ‘you can’t catch fish if your flies aren’t in the water’. After the sun sets over the mountains, we rely on impressionistic drake silhouette styles of flies with large white wings we can see in low light. Examples are H & L Variants and Royal Wulffs. Size 10’s and 12’s are ideal to imitate our Green Drakes. Patterns tied with foam extended bodies, like Ben Furimsky’s BDE Drake (the best dry ever), are also highly effective. They make a superb choice when you are fishing dropper patterns, due to the patterns high flotation.

Many Green Drakes never actually make it to the dun stage and get held captive or crippled in the surface meniscus. Green Drake Cripple patterns are another viable option here for fish that are focused on the struggling emergers. Most often we fish Cripples as a trailing fly below a higher floating Green Drake imitation. Green Drake Duns on our valley waters have wings that look disproportionate in relation to their body size, often measuring 1 ½ to 2 times their body length. Most often they display a smoky-dun coloration. Green Drake spinners are of no importance to the fisherman since they fall during the wee hours of night.

Written By Kirk Webb

Guide and manager for Taylor Creek Fly Shop

For conditions on other Colorado rivers go to; http://www.flycurrents.com

Fishing Green Drakes In The Roaring Fork Valley Article #2

On the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers the Green Drakes hatch at dusk. Periodic light hatches of drakes can occur during afternoons, though they are never as heavy as during the evening hours, and almost always take place during rare periods of overcast weather. The half hours just before and after sunset are often the most productive times to fish dry flies. Floating the rivers in drift boats or rafts is the most effective way to take advantage of the hatch. It also allows you to cover vast amounts of water and actively feeding fish. Hiring an experienced guide is highly recommended. Guides have extensive knowledge about hatches, locations, fly patterns. In addition, most of the Roaring Fork is private water that is only accessible via floating (in Colorado the land owner owns the streambed but not the water itself).

The Colorado River from New Castle to Glenwood Springs sees the first of the valley’s Green Drake hatches. Usually this takes place during the second or third week of June and can last up to the middle of July. For the wade fisherman, the best access points include the New Castle Access, Dino Hole, Canyon Creek, South Canyon, Confluence Access, No Name and Grizzly Creek areas. During the last week of June, Green Drakes make their annual appearance along the lower stretches of the Roaring Fork from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale. This is best place to find great numbers of drakes during the evening hours. Popular access points include Veltus Park, Sunlight Bridge, Glenwood Park, the Airport Access, Bury Lease, Aspen Glen, and Sutank Bridge. Like the Colorado River, the hatch is often best from the end of June to the third week of July.

As the water begins to warm above Carbondale, the hatch slowly progresses up river. This usually happens from the middle of July to the early parts of August. From Carbondale up to Basalt, the best wade access points include the Carbondale Access, Catherine’s Store, the Tree Farm, Hooks Bridge and the water through the town of Basalt. At this point the water from Basalt up to Aspen heats up during August and into early September. The drake hatch is usually not as heavy on the upper river in comparison, though it certainly is a mighty fine hatch in its own right. The drakes can and do hatch in fishable numbers during the afternoon hours up there, but we find the action is more consistent in the evening hours. Numerous access points offer good wade fishing with the best and largest chunk being from the Upper Woody Creek Bridge (Jaffe Park) up to Aspen.

During this same time frame, the Green Drakes begin to appear on the Frying Pan. August is far and away the best month to find consistent and often times heavy hatches of drakes. Late July will sometimes produce fishable hatches on the lower sections of the river. Unlike the other valley waters, the Green Drakes on the Frying Pan prefer to hatch at midday. The hatches on the Frying Pan are much more predictable and almost always begin around the noon hour. Because of this, more exact imitations are needed. Royal Wulffs and H & L Variants are out of the question here, while Sparkleduns, Winged Drakes, Cripples, and Hen Wing Patterns are highly effective. Lighter tippets will be necessary to entice the selective fish of the Frying Pan. We still typically fish 6X tippets to size 12 drake patterns. Fishing pressure is at its annual height at this time, allowing fish to scrutinize your flies. Precise dead drifts are mandatory. Often times a downstream drift is employed by those in the know, allowing the fish to see your fly first instead of line, leader, tippet, and then your fly.

Written By Kirk Webb
Guide and Manager for Taylor Creek Fly Shop

For other river reports around the Rocky Mountain Region visit; http://www.flycurrents.com

Fishing Green Drakes In The Roaring Fork Valley Article 3#

Fishing pocket water often produces higher numbers of fish especially after the fish have been worked over by numerous others in the previous days or weeks. Dry/dropper drake rigs are highly effective on the Frying Pan. Stalcup’s Winged Emerger is the guide favorite as a dropper pattern. Again, Green Drakes are mediocre swimmers and clumsy fliers, which is why emerger patterns are so effective. Cripple patterns also are great flies for the tricky fish of the Frying Pan. Sparsely tied patterns often become a guide staple in the later stages of the drake hatch. CDC Thorax and CDC Cripple patterns tied with large wings and sparse bodies become the rule. Many seasoned Frying Pan guides use double dry fly rigs loaded with a drake pattern trailed by a PMD pattern. PMD’s are still in high numbers at this time of year. Concentrate on fishing and casting to individual rising fish instead of putting your flies through the middle of a pod or group of fish. Take some time to sit on the bank and watch if the fish are feeding on drakes, PMD’s, caddis, or bwo’s. Compound hatches can make the fishing tough for those unwilling to experiment with flies. Overcast days can make the drake hatch last for hours on end, while bright sunny skies will shorten the duration of the hatch. September is also a superb time of year. Crowds are lighter as school is back in session and most anglers are back to working the grindstone. The drake hatch is a little lighter though still plentiful.

During the middle of September through October, “Flavs” make their appearance. This size #14 drake cousin looks identical to its larger counterparts and is imitated with the same flies though in a smaller size. A ritual among our staff is to catch a fish on a Green Drake on Halloween night. And yes, they are always good for a fish two!

In closing remember this. On the Roaring Fork and Colorado generally the drakes hatch at dusk, while the drakes on the Frying Pan hatch at noon. Late June through July are best on the Roaring Fork and Colorado, while August and early September are the prime times on the Frying Pan and upper Roaring Fork. If you want the opportunity (and who doesn’t?) to fish size 10 – 14 dry flies to numbers of rising fish for weeks and even months on end, the Roaring Fork Valley is truly a fisherman’s paradise. Local river rats and dry fly junkies often fish the drake hatch on the Pan from noon to three pm, then take a nap and hit the drake hatch on the Fork from 7pm to dark. The Roaring Fork Valley also encompasses the most miles of Gold Medal Water in the state as designated by the Division of Wildlife. So, not only are the hatches superb, but the size and quantities of fish are equally superb. This is the only hatch that makes even the big fish come to the surface to feed. Rainbows of 18”- 22” inches are common on all rivers, with fish of over 5 pounds being possible to engulf the mighty Green Drake!

Written by Kirk Web
Guide & manager of Taylor Creek Fly Shop

For other Current reports on Colorado Rivers around the Rocky Mountain Region go to

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Go Up With The Temperatures

Lately, reading through many of the fishing reports from various locations, a recurring theme of high water temperatures served as a reminder to follow the path of the mercury and go up into the High Country. This time of year it is important to have a thermometer to check water temperatures. Most trout fisheries are stressed when temperatures reach the upper 60's F. You can get current water temps on the reports at: http://www.flycurrents.com.

All of the popular destinations have virtually untouched fisheries in the higher elevations whether towards its source or one of the many of the tributaries. These smaller streams can serve as a refuge for the angler as well as the fish. Although the average size of these fish tend to be smaller, the experience can be many times more rewarding. Instead of trying to get the perfect drift with the exact fly, you can find yourself trying to get 'a' drift with just about any fly. Getting creative with the fly rod, line and fly to make a presentation in an impossible lie is the reward and getting a strike is truly icing.

It is a perfect time of year to explore some of those 'circles' in the Gazetteer. The opportunity for this kind of adventure is quickly closing and it may haunt you all winter long.