On the Fly: When time and effort intersect

On the Fly
Scott Spooner
A local rainbow trout. Photo courtesy Taylor Creek Fly Shop

When you are new to fly fishing, every “problem” tends to look like a nail –because the only tool in your belt is a hammer. Fly casting is a game of subtleties, and when it comes to the actual fishing part of it, the subtleties are even more pronounced. Your hammer is essential, but eventually you’ll need a few more tools to make you a full-fledged carpenter. These tools aren’t necessarily things you have to spend money on; just spending time on the water expands your repertoire.

You will begin to understand insect life cycles, fish behavior, river conditions and how to use this knowledge as the seasons, hatches and appetites change out there. Many anglers are quite proficient in some skills but lacking in others, and tend to stick with what they know. This is fine, until it isn’t. There are generally four approaches employed; (surface dry fly fishing, subsurface indicator nymphing, Czech tight-line nymphing, and streamer fishing) and we should aim be proficient in all of them. Then, the inevitable breakthroughs will occur and you’ll be able to rely on a different style of presenting your flies as the moods of the fish change.

Even if you only have weekends to refine your skills, this is far more than most people tend to get. Locals have a treasure trove of fly shops nearby, and most of the people behind the counters are happy to answer your questions (or take you out on-water for a tune-up). If you’re anything like me, you learn something by doing it, not reading about it. Getting yourself out of your comfort zone will teach you invaluable lessons, and those eureka moments will happen when your time and effort begin to intersect.

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