Maybe it is just me, but way too many anglers treat dry fly fishing as some mythical legend, that has to be timed perfectly to have success. “I didn’t see any fish rising.” or “there wasn’t a hatch, so I didn’t even try it.” are two of the most common excuses as to why people don’t throw dry flies. In Colorado, anglers are so nymph-centric we don the nickname, “Bobberado.” Sure, Colorado is home to some of the most technical tailwaters in the country and nymphing will always be the most productive way to fish them. However, Colorado is also home to countless miles of rivers, small creeks and high mountain lakes that offer some of the best dry fly fishing opportunities in the world. With that said, it is time you start taking advantage of these opportunities. Here are some tips and ideas that will create successful habits for throwing dries and leaving wondering… “Why haven’t I been doing this already”
Spotting risers is something that excites every angler, but the best dry fly fishers understand that creating their own rise is the real trick to having success. Don’t wait around until you see a nose to make a cast. One of the best things about fishing dries, is that you can literally fish the entire river. While nymphs limit you to certain runs with depth and make you avoid snags. Dries are the perfect answer for tight windows and the tweener water between the classic runs. It is these pockets that hold opportunistic trout that are eager to eat just about anything that floats or drifts by. Another huge advantage you have is the fish spreading out finding new homes for the summer. They will hold around any rock, overhanging willow or under-cut bank, so seriously fish EVERYTHING. I call this type of fishing “The Cleanup.” It is the water that everyone else walks past that you can make a killing, if you take the time and break it down.
If you know me or fish with me then you know two things. I will never say no to the question, “Can I get you another beer?” and from July through October, if I am not streamer fishing, there will be a size 6-10 Stimulator or Hopper on the end of my line. Are there going to be times when PMDs, Caddis, and Tricos are going off? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean that is all the fish are willing to eat. Remember, Hoppers and other Terrestrials are supposed to be there as well! There just isn’t a set hatch, as to when they will arrive. Fish know that, so when they are given an opportunity for an easy big meal, they will take advantage of that more times than not. If you have this mindset, it will get you in the habit of expecting fish to look up. This outlook will have you better prepared for when you do find yourself in the middle of a famous hatch somewhere across Colorado.
Just like any aspect of fishing, it is going to take time to hone in your dry fly game. This makes is the hardest part for many anglers to get past. Look, we all nymph but, let's be honest it’s the easiest thing an angler can do. Is there a time for nymphing? Yes, there 100% is but, summertime in Colorado is not that time. Commit to a dry fly rig for a full day, cover ground and work any piece of water that you think could hold a fish. You will be blown away by the amount of fish that look up and will really learn about the body of water you are fishing.