On the Fly: We live in dry-flyfishing mecca, especially here on the Fryingpan River | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: We live in dry-flyfishing mecca, especially here on the Fryingpan River

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Kara Moore fishes the Roaring Fork River.
Shannon Outing Photography/Courtesy photo

If you would rather fish dry flies than any other style of fishing there is to employ, you definitely live in the right place. One would argue, if you’re stubborn enough, you could fish a dry fly on the Fryingpan any day of the year, regardless of weather. The hatches in winter last an hour or two, so you won’t be spoiled with dawn-until-dusk activity like August and September, but the opportunities are still there.

To the uninitiated, dry-flyfishing is the rarified moment on a stream when insects are actively hatching, and you are presenting your offering on the surface. The sweetest part is the visual aspect — you get to watch the fish rise up, think about it, and (hopefully) eat it right before your eyes. I know plenty of stubborn anglers who will simply sit there and wait for the hatch. The key in winter is to anticipate when this happens and being on the water during the right time — usually midday.

Winter dry-flyfishing is frankly less chess and more checkers because there is only a small handful of insects to plan on imitating (versus the gamut of complex spring, summer, and fall hatches). On the flip side, your fly and presentation must be flawless in winter because the water is low and clear. Be mindful that mistakes like fly choice, poor drifts, using the wrong tippet, disturbing the water, and talking too loudly are amplified during these skinny water times of year. 

You don’t need to haul around everything but the kitchen sink in winter, either. Midges, blue-winged olives, small winter stoneflies, and perhaps a streamer or two are what the fish are looking for. Make your dry fly leader a little longer, keep plenty of floatant handy, and remember to get your fly close to the “window” of the fish. Trout only spend as much energy as they receive from the morsel, so they’re not going to swim six feet across the river to eat like we see during summertime green drake hatches.

It looks like we are warming up in the coming days and weeks, so set aside a little time for some hydro-therapy. It’s just what the doctor ordered for those winter blues!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.