On the Fly: Spring awakenings | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Spring awakenings

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

What a difference a week makes! While we are all trying to adjust to an hour’s less sleep, fish in the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers are making the adjustment to looking up and eating dry flies. Strong emergences of midges are commonplace now instead of sporadic. We have been seeing midges from 1 to 3 p.m., a few blue wings from 2 to 4 p.m. and a resurgence of midge activity from 6 p.m. until dark.

If you are anything like me, it takes a while to adjust to casting dries after a winter’s worth of nymphing. Spending an hour or two at the park with your dry-fly rod can help scrape the rust off and reawaken your muscle memory, especially if you practice with a few goals in mind. Casting aimlessly doesn’t do anybody much good. I usually drop my hat on the ground and use it as a target, playing around with different distances to begin with. Next up is remembering how to deal with casting into and across the wind, always with that target on the ground.

The next “problem” I usually encounter (if these are problems, life must be rough) is letting the fish actually eat my dry-fly before I snatch it away on an aggressive hook set. Last week I literally did this over 10 times in a row. Remember that adage, “God save the queen,” before you bring your line tight. Slow hook-sets trump aggressive ones on dry-fly presentations. We all get excited out there, whether you’ve been fly-fishing for an hour or a lifetime. Let ’em eat it!

Lastly, consider your “angle” while angling. Controlling your flies on the surface is much easier when you present them across and downstream versus casting upstream. Upstream dry-fly casts tend to pile your line and leader on top of the fish; across and down allows them to see your flies first, line last. Repositioning your drift in this direction is as simple as raising the tip of the rod. Take some time when you see rising fish and determine the pace in which they are sipping on the surface. You’ll find that most of them establish a rising pattern. If that fish you’re stalking eats every 10 seconds, start counting and time your presentation accordingly. Whether you prefer to wade or float, we are definitely back in business here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Be safe, have fun and let spring commence!

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