On the Fly: Dry-fly fishing at its finest
August 11, 2017
Anglers and guides alike are all commenting on the prolific pale morning dun (PMD) hatches we are seeing this year. Perhaps our mild yet wet winter has something to do with this, but all hatches vary slightly from year to year. The Fryingpan has the most robust emergences of these mayflies, but there are solid numbers also being seen on the Colorado, Roaring Fork and Crystal rivers.
PMDs vary quite a bit in size and color, and perhaps we lump too many different mayflies into the PMD family as junior entomologist anglers. These bugs vary from reddish hues to pink and especially yellow, and can be found in sizes 14, 16 and 18.
Cloudy and rainy days are yielding the best numbers of these flies, but you'll see them popping on bright days too. Green drakes get the most hype around here, (the PMD's greenish bigger and bolder cousin) but by our accounts, PMDs begin hatching earlier and continue later into the year than most other insects, except for midges, of course, which hatch every day.
PMD nymphs are rust to black in color, and are generally the same sizes as the duns. Go-to patterns around here for nymphs are Split Case and BTS nymphs, and emergers like the Bat Wing and Barr's Emerger put plenty of fish in the basket. Duns such as Extended Bodies and Sparkleduns are the choice of many fish and anglers alike, and CDC Rusty Spinners are key for the evening spinner fall. Speaking of which, the heaviest spinner falls around here are the rusty PMDs, which can be witnessed by the thousands on all rivers here in the Roaring Fork Valley early and late in the day.
We highly advise you take the opportunity to fish this hatch as soon as you can, and choose a day with the "worst" weather in the week. Rain prevents these mayflies from drying their wings before going aloft from the water's surface, and the fish make mincemeat out of these bugs stuck on the water. We are all glad those dog days of late June and early July are in the rearview mirror, it is time for some of the best dry-fly fishing of the year!
This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.