Fishing report: Grasping ‘rise forms’ | AspenTimes.com
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Fishing report: Grasping ‘rise forms’

Will Sands
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Dry-fly fishing has been very good lately on both the Fryingpan and the Roaring Fork. The midge hatches have been the dominant force on the ‘Pan, while midges and blue-winged olives are hatching on the Fork.

Many anglers simply enjoy the visual aspects of dry-fly fishing – just watching a trout rise to your fly is exciting. However, certain nuances about rising trout can leave anglers very frustrated.

Realizing the difference between fish taking adult insects on the surface versus fish taking emergers below the surface or in surface film can make or break an angler. Many anglers do not realize that when they encounter fish breaking the surface, the fish may not actually be eating the dry-fly form of the insect.

How do you figure this out? Well, if you have presented several dry patterns to fish that appear to be eating dries and you don’t have positive results, then it’s time to sit back and watch more closely.

This is when you need to assess the “rise form.” Watch carefully – are you seeing the fish’s back, dorsal fin and tail break the surface? If yes, then the fish are focused on emergers below the surface, but they are so close that they appear to be eating off the surface. Think of how a porpoise or dolphin comes up just below the surface and then rolls just beneath, only breaking the surface with its dorsal fin or tail. The best way to fool the fish in this scenario is to drop a nymph or emerging nymph off of a dry fly.

The other rise form is when the trouts’ noses just gently poke through the surface. Generally, this means the trout are taking emergers stuck in the film. Again, the best approach is a dry fly for visual reference, with an emerging nymph or a dry-emerger pattern. Try asking your local shop to get you dialed in on the appropriate midge or blue-winged olive patterns for these unique situations.


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