Fishing report: Surface tension | AspenTimes.com
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Fishing report: Surface tension

Will Sands
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

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

Many anglers simply enjoy the visual aspects of dry fly fishing, as watching a trout rise to your fly is just 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 just below the surface, or in surface film, can make or break an angler. Many anglers do not realize when they encounter fish breaking the surface that 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 actually focused on emergers below the surface, even though they appear to be eating off the surface. This is commonly referred to as “porpoising” – think of how a porpoise or dolphin comes up just below the surface and then rolls just beneath, only breaking the surface with their 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 that will break through the surface tension and hang within a couple of inches of the surface.




The other rise form is when a fish’s nose just gently pokes the surface, leaving only small dimples or tiny surface disturbances. Generally this will reflect that trout are taking emergers stuck in the surface film. Again, the best approach is a dry fly for visual reference with an emerging nymph or a dry/emerger pattern with a trailing shuck.

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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