As the season begins to change from Summer and into Fall so should the flies in your fly box. Although we are at that time of the year where the ambient temperature begins to drop, that by no means should be a reason to put away your large hoppers, streamers, or nymphs (Honestly...never put those away). Since it is that time of the year where the flies in your fly box are a little all over the place, I thought that it would be a good idea to explain how you should be filling your fly box for fall. Hopefully, you have a few of these already in your fly box but, for all intents and purposes, I am going to imagine that you are starting from scratch and your fly box is barren and you are building this box from the ground up. Without any further explanation, let's get into how to build your fly box for fall.
For most, the thought of keeping big hoppers and attractor patterns in their fly box during the cooler months of the year may seem like a faux pas. And, while this makes some sense, I'm here to tell you that through the early fall months you can have days where the only fly you will need is a big foamy hopper pattern. Why? Well even though the fall months rivers can still experience long durations of time where the sun warms the water just enough for hatches to occur. For that reason, it is best to be prepared with a handful of staple hoppers in your fly box. As always it is best practice to keep these bad boys in a variety of sizes and colors which we will list below.
Chubbies are always good to have. For this point in time, my favorite colors to have on me are Gold, Purple (confidence color here), and Tan. Typically, you can get away with having these in size 12#, 14#, and 16#.
This highly buoyant fly is pretty irresistible to heavily feeding fish and typically is best used when thrown tight to the bank during the fall. These flies act as a perfect attractor pattern. My favorite color to throw in these flies is Royal and Red. My favorite sizes to have are 14#, 16#, and 18#.
Although this classic dry fly should be in your fly box year-round, it is an excellent pattern to have on you in the fall. Why? Well honestly because this fly is super general in nature and doesn't look like anything too specific once it hits the water. The best sizes for these would be 20# and 22#.
The Comparadun defines simplicity, but it is a true fish catching machine. It has one of the most beautiful silhouettes in a mayfly imitation of all time. Due to the nature of the tie the fly rides low in the film and the hollow coastal deer hair helps to keep the fly afloat. These comparadune’s are best fished for difficult fish in slow currents where a great imitation is a must. We offer this proven pattern in 22’s through 10’s to match BWO’s to Western Green Drakes
The Amys Ant is one of the most versatile high vis floating flies out there. This fly works as a great attractor pattern during the fall months and can hold even your heaviest of nymphs for those deep pockets of water. The colors and sizes that I gravitate towards are purple and red. The sizes are a bit on the larger side since these play more of an attractor pattern which would be size 12# and 14#.
Fall is the time of year where big browns gorge themselves before the truly cold weather starts. That means this is the best time to throw some juicy streamers close to the banks and strip them across the water. These typically lead to the most thrilling takes of the season and are a great-searching pattern to figure out where some of the biggest fish are holding.
The Double Fuego was created at my bench when I was thinking about how good of a fly Cheech’s Articulated Trout Slider is and I wanted something smaller than that fly but still utilized Metallic Ice Dub which I feel is really what makes the Articulated Trout Slider have such killer action. My favorite color of these is Copper and Gold. Thankfully these only come in one size so making the decision on what size to throw is pretty easy.
One late night I started messing around with some thick fur and a little material for articulation, a whole Lotta marabou, and a couple of silly beads, then the dragon was born. The next day it worked. I’ve been using fun beads and other silly things for a while to just see what they would eat and to kinda pimp my ride and make it my own. Marabou to me is the money in my vault and always seals the deal when it comes to movement underwater. This fly only comes in black and sculpin which are arguably the two best colors you can have with you.
Two and a half inches of pure trout candy, the Baby Gonga is articulated just like its Mama but tied on dual size eight hooks that reach out and grab them. My favorite pattern is rainbow, especially during early fall when big browns are eating just about anything before winter.
The Lil Kim is a great streamer with tons of life-like action. The streamer isn't too heavy but it has just the right amount of weight to get into the strike zone. The strands of crystal flash real entice the fish to eat. This is a fantastic single hook option for those that may not have a dedicated streamer rod. My favorite color is Copper and Gold. These two colors present amazing flash in the water and attract the biggest of browns.
As the months get colder the use of subsurface nymphs starts to become more and more prevalent with anglers along the Front Range. Look it is no secret that flies eat a majority of their diet subsurface and, there is no better time than fall and winter to solidify this. This is why we decided to toss in some of our favorites for this time of the year.
A classic pattern that is as effective today as the day it was invented in the thirties. The natural peacock and contrasting white biot's across the back of the pattern help this fly to flicker as it swims in the current letting fish know food is here. I would personally carry sizes 18-22 this time of year.
One of the essential flies for any fly box the Pheasant Tail is intended to imitate a mayfly nymph. This variation incorporates a tungsten Bead to aid in quicker descent into the water column. The flashback will signal the dinner bell for any fish in the area however it is tied in to imitate an air pocket that is created to help a natural nymph emerge to the surface pre-hatch. Keep these simple and keep the sizes small in size 18-22
It is super generic and buggy and works as a caddis, mayfly, and scud. The black bead is subtler and more realistic than other beads and the fly works great dead-drifted or on the swing. Size 18-22 are the best this time of year.
The Jujubaetis has become THE baetis pattern in the years since its inception. With a perfectly shaped, durable small mayfly profile, the Jujubaetis is a must-have pattern for any serious nymph fisher. An obvious take-off of the Jujubee Midge, the Jujubaetis was born out of a need to more closely match this important food source. Size 20-22
Very realistic egg pattern with a strand of crystal flash to really grab the fish's attention. Size 16-18 are my favorites. Oh, if you are new to tying flies this is a great starting point.
As you can see, building out your fly box for the fall months can be a pretty enjoyable experience, and honestly, there is a lot to choose from. It is a lot like springtime fishing in a lot of ways, where fish are hungry for a large variety of things and it is up to you for making sure you are prepared for your day on the water. If you would like to see more of these in the future, or if you have any comments regarding this post please shoot me an email at email@example.com. As always if you have any questions regarding what we talked about today or questions on your favorite rivers feel free to come into the shop at either our Denver or Frisco location. If you cannot make it into the shop feel free to give us a ring at 303-733-1434