On the Fly: The many ways to fly-fish

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

The methods available to cast flies to trout are many, and there is a piece of water for all of these different styles here in the Roaring Fork Valley. The “newest” (in fact, the oldest) style of fly-fishing is called Tenkara, which utilizes very long, collapsible rods with no reel. The fly line simply comes off the tip of the rod, and once you add a leader section and a fly, you’re fishing! This new/old style particularly lends itself to our smaller streams and feeder creeks and can present dries and nymphs quite well.

Many people who have gone steelhead fishing (big rainbows on steroids) learned about two-handed rods on their trip, which is the ultimate way to throw large flies across big rivers. There are “switch” and “spey” rods available on the market, with different fly lines being utilized for desired sink rates and so on. Two-handed rods are making inroads on our larger local rivers, especially on the lower Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.

For those who live to nymph fish, that particular style generally works year-round on all of our waters. Nymphing refers to fishing below the water’s surface and is probably the most effective way to fish here in the valley. This style isn’t easy to master, as the action takes place below where visibility is a challenge. Nymphing is all about having the proper amount of weight above your flies. Too light, and the fish never see them; too heavy, and you are cleaning moss and mud off your flies all day. The lower Roaring Fork is a nymphing dream at the moment, even though the insects are small.

There is another school of thought followed by many fly-casters, and for them, it is all about the dry fly. I know plenty of people who refuse to do anything but throw dries and patiently wait on the bank for the hatch to happen. Most of the insects we fish have an “adult” stage of the life cycle where the bug is sitting on the surface of the water before it takes off to mate and ultimately die. Our smaller streams are ideal for dry-fly junkies, and the Fryingpan probably has the best hatches in the valley at the moment, if not the entire state. Whatever your preferred style, there are trout ready to make bad decisions and eat your fly all over the valley!

“On the Fly” is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.