On the Fly: How to fool a fish

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Angler Matthew Obern and a rainbow trout caught from the Fryingpan River.
Courtesy of Taylor Creek Fly Shops.

The dry-fly-fishing up the Fryingpan River just won’t quit! Many people refer to the Fryingpan as the “jewel of the valley,” and one of her best attributes is the low water temperatures flowing out of the deeps of Ruedi, allowing our mayfly hatches to extend into September and October. When green drakes and pale morning duns are done most everywhere else in Colorado, they keep on rolling in the Roaring Fork Valley. Caddis, crane flies and midges are still present in strong numbers right now too.

Green drakes have been hatching since early August, and as the hatch extends into fall, the fish need extra reassurance on the part of the angler before they decide to eat your dry fly. At this point in the hatch, most fish have been stung by a few artificials and become quite wary. Luckily, the crowds are starting to abate, cloudy weather is in the forecast, and there are a few tricks you can employ to keep putting fish in the net.

First off, drag-free dry fly presentations just won’t cut it. The fish, at this point, require you to add some movement to your fly as it floats downstream. Add movement to your fly by twitching, flipping, flopping and short-skating those dries every now and then, similar to springtime caddis fishing techniques. This is easily accomplished by utilizing the second trick I recommend, which is across-and-downstream presentations. It is much easier to manipulate a dry fly downstream of you, as simple as picking your dry fly up and laying it back down. Downstream presentations allow the fish to see nothing but the dry fly, versus seeing your brightly colored fly line, leader and tippet. These fish do not like a fly line anywhere near them.

Thirdly, you simply cannot stand in the same spot all day long on the Fryingpan. Our fish are famously unspooky, but highly selective. Watch almost any guide up the river; they catch a few fish in a pool, run or riffle, and then move on. Show your flies to as many fish as you can, in as many different areas as you can. Your best chance with any fish will be the first time they see your fly. So, cover some water, add subtle movement and keep those dry flies downstream to make the most of your day on the water. You just might be surprised!

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.