In today’s fast-paced society, we are continually bombarded with information on what we, as anglers need in order to be successful on the water. We’ve all heard the expression, “Keep it simple”. How many of us actually take that to heart and practice this approach?
Fly fishing has been around for hundreds of years in one form or fashion. We have no doubt that our predecessors would have loved to have today's options available to them in their day. At Trouts, we’re a firm believer that keeping it simple is the perfect recipe for success on the water! As the population in the Centennial state continues to grow, we often hear from NEW anglers “I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to begin”. Below is a great gear recipe to consider for fishing in Colorado....
Fly Rods are the cornerstone of the sport of fly fishing and are the single piece of gear where the most attention should be placed. Not all fly rods are made for every situation, so it is important to give consideration to "where" you intend on fishing when getting into the sport. With that said, it is widely agreed that there are a few different fly rods that are the most diverse and applicable across differing fishing situations.
TROUT FISHING - a 9' 5 weight fly rod is widely considered to be the most versatile 'do-it-all' fly rod for most western trout applications. Those looking to fish smaller rivers and creeks might want to consider a 4 weight instead, and anglers looking to fish larger rivers could also consider a larger 6 weight.
WARM WATER FISHING - a 9' 7 weight or 8 weight is the ideal rod for anyone looking to focus on warm water species (bass, carp, pike). Fish size will largely be the determining factor between a 7 weight and 8 weight, with 7 weights being ideal for bass and carp, and an 8 weight rod being ideal for pike.
FLATS FISHING - a 9' 8 weight fly rod is an ideal "do-it-all" saltwater setup. With that said, this rod will leave the angler under gunned when it comes to large permit, snook, and tarpon. However, this rod will allow an angler to target the most flats species with a single fly rod.
BIG GAME - a 9' 12wt will be the best fly rod for big game applications. While it will be too much for some species and fishing scenarios, this rod will provide the angler with the power and lifting ability to hook and land big game species in saltwater and freshwater environments.
The last item to consider with fly rods is that ultimately they are very specific to the individual angler. Each angler has a different casting stroke, and we believe in finding the right fly rod for you, not pushing a rod simply because we like it.
Outside of the fly rod, we move next to the fly reel. The reel is a vitally important piece of fly fishing gear meant to hold the fly line and backing. The fly reel assists in creating the connection between you and the fish. While the intended use of the fly reel is consistent amongst all applications of fly fishing, the degree of importance from one to pursuit to another, or even one angler to another may change. There are two different classifications of fly reels:
FULL DRAG FLY REELS - these reels are similar to spin fishing reels in that the angler can adjust how easily, or how hard it is for the fish to pull line from the reel. There are many different proprietary drag systems currently available, and it is up to the angler to decide which one meets their needs the best.
CLICK-PAWL FLY REELS - these reels have no drag, other than some light tension to prohibit free-spooling. The ease or difficulty in a fish taking the line off of a click-pawl reel is determined by the angler and how they are "palming" the reel's spool, making it more or less difficult to pull out fly line.
In addition to the above classifications, the next differentiation in fly reels is how they are made. There are 2 different manufacturing processes to produce a fly reel.
FULLY MACHINED FLY REELS - like an airplane or car part, anything mechanically that is made from a solid piece of anodized aluminum will perform better and last the longest. With that said, the process of manufacturing a fully machine item takes longer and hence cost more.
DIE-CAST FLY REELS - di-cast fly reels are essentially made by heating up aluminum until it can be poured into a mold to cool. While this manufacturing process can produce some cool designs and is relatively inexpensive, the end product cannot compare in terms of durability and performance.
Fly Lines are arguably one of the most overlooked and underappreciated pieces of fly fishing gear. Fly lines are often something someone buys when they first get their fly rod and reel, but rarely give it much thought after. As such, anglers learn to fish and enjoy the sport with sub-par gear that makes it HARDER to fish as opposed to easier. Fly lines are a piece of fly fishing gear that should ideally be changed every 12-18 months and should be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure proper performance. There are three main fly line types that anglers need to be aware of:
FLOATING FLY LINES - designed to float on the surface of the water. Ideal for trout fishing, or fishing in shallow water environments with sinking flies. Most frequently used with nymph fishing.
SINK-TIP FLY LINES - these fly lines have a sinking tip that will vary in the length of the tip, and the rate at which the tip sinks. These lines are often used when streamer fishing.
FULL-SINK FLY LINES - the entirety of these fly lines are designed to sink at varying rates based on the grain weight. These lines are often used when still water fishing when aiming to get flies deep.
The other aspect of fly lines that is important for anglers to understand is the "taper" of the line. Sink-tip and full-sink fly lines are able to cast further distances due to the weight of the tip of the line. But with floating lines, the line needs to be able to generate line speed using the taper (or shape) of the fly line. Every floating fly line will have a different taper depending on the manufacturer and general use. For example, fly lines designed for dry fly fishing will have a smaller or more delicate taper to allow for a better presentation. Conversely, fly lines designed for casting big flies will have a larger taper to turn over these larger bugs and will have a less delicate presentation as a result. In order to choose a fly line, follow these steps
Leader and tippet can be a bit overwhelming for anyone getting into the sport of fly fishing. For starters, the entire numbering system operates opposite of how we use numbers in our day-to-day lives, ensuring confusion from the start. As such, we want to break leaders and tippet down bit by bit to better help you understand the in's and out's of this terminal tackle.
First, let's talk about the numbers.
When it comes to leader and tippet, the larger the number is going to equal a lighter pound test, a.k.a lighter duty. You’ll also notice that leader/tippet does not use the term ‘weight’, but rather, each number is going to have an “X” that follows it. (side note: this is pronounced “X” and not “times”) Leaders and tippet are most commonly seen in size 0X down to 7X . 0X is equivalent to about 13lbs and when we need to go stronger than this, manufacturers go away from the ‘X’ system and just start printing the diameter of the line and the pound test on the label- but this is nothing we need to be concerned about at this point. After all, we’re trying to keep things simple here and 0X-7X is going to get you through almost any fishing situation you’re likely to encounter when learning the ropes of this sport. Lastly, if you’re planning on doing some trout fishing in the state of Colorado, 4X or 5X (avg. 5-7lb) is going to get you through the majority of fishing conditions you’ll find.
The next important factor to know when it comes to leader and tippet is the material that it's made from. There are two common materials when it comes to leader and tippet:
MONOFILAMENT - monofilament, or "mono" as it's often referred, is the most common type of fishing line available.
FLUOROCARBON - fluorocarbon, or "fluoro" as it's often referred, is the most expensive kind of fishing line available.
So when it comes to Monofilament and Fluorocarbon, which is better? This is really up to the individual, but the benefits of monofilament is it's reduced cost, the fact that it floats (fluorocarbon as a material naturally sinks), and it's reduced lifespan making it more environmentally friendly. The benefits of Fluorocarbon are it's its formulated to be stronger, more abrasion resistant, and more transparent than traditional monofilament. We like to recommend fluorocarbon for technical angling, as well as saltwater fishing.
With waders and boots, you're beginning to wade into (no pun intended) a category of gear where some folks wonder how necessary it is. And we get it, getting into the sport of fly fishing can get expensive. So here's our general take on the need of waders and boots for beginner anglers. We’re fortunate in Colorado to be able to fish 365 days a year. As such, there are times of year when Mother Nature provides us weather and conditions for fishing without waders and boots, but there are also plenty of times of year when getting into a river for the purposes of fishing isn't realistic. Let's face it, trout need cold water to survive, and sometimes we're just not that into standing in a cold river and freezing our butts off. So we highly suggest that anglers consider a good pair of breathable stockingfoot waders and boots. You can think of it as a private pass to 8 extra months of fishing!
So what waders and boots are best for beginner anglers? The answer to this isn't black and white, as there are numerous wader and boot options, and it all really comes down to how much money one wants to invest in the product category. From our experience, it is important to balance price and quality, as it is easy to think you're getting a great deal on a pair of waders, only to have wet feet days later. So here are some things to consider when looking into purchasing waders and boots.
WADERS - there are two types of waders currently available, neoprene and breathable. We highly suggest going the "breathable" route, as these waders will make your time on the water much more enjoyable. There are numerous breathable wader manufacturers, and we have sold waders for almost all of them in our 25+ years of business. This includes Simms, Patagonia, Orvis, Redington, Cloudveil, Dan Bailey's and Frog Toggs. If you visit either of our Trouts locations, you will see that there is only one wader company that we continue to carry and support, Simms Fishing Products. With their recent addition of the Tributary Wader, Simms now has an affordable wader option what is a great fit of price and function.
BOOTS - there are two types of wading boots currently on the market, felt and rubber. Felt bottomed wading boots were originally made for roofers, but made their way onto the feet of fisherman due to the quality traction they offered in the water. In recent years, it has become known that felt bottomed boots are transporters of Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS), and as such are not the most ecological option. While we do sell felt bottom boots for certain specialty applications, we are big proponents of rubber-bottomed boots. They offer superior traction outside of the river and provide equal if not better traction than felt. One can also add studs to the bottom, providing added traction if needed.
In the end, we highly recommend coming into one of our locations and speaking to our professional sales staff about your options. Being comfortable on the water is paramount, and there is nothing that can ruin a day faster than soggy waders and wet feet.
Flies are the last connection between you and the fish, and any experienced angler will tell you that a good day and a bad day can be as simple as the color and shape of your fly. Trouts Fly Fishing has always been known for our superior collection of flies, and for good reason as we take being a "Fly Shop" very seriously. Now we could go on for days if not months about flies, so we'll try and keep this simple and straightforward. In fly fishing, there are two basic types of flies, those that float, and those that sink. But to better understand how to differentiate flies, we'll need to dive a bit deeper into their subtle differences.
DRY FLIES - dry flies would belong in the "flies that float" category, as their name directly implies. There are two types of dry flies, General Attractor and Species-Specific. General attractor patterns are flies that are not meant to imitate a specific insect, and are instead meant to look "buggy". These flies are meant to get the fishes attention, and hopefully provoke an aggressive eat. Depending on the color and size, General Attractor patterns can imitate a wide variety of insects. Species-Specific patterns are flies that are tied in specific colors and sizes to imitate a specific insect hatch.
NYMPHS - nymphs, sometimes called wet flies or sub-surface flies, would belong in the "flies that don't float" category. Like dry flies, there are two different designations for nymphs, General Attractor and Species-Specific. The designation of each of these categories is the same as dry flies, but there is an added dimension to categorizing nymphs, weight. Dry flies we want to float, and nymphs we want to sink. The sink factor adds another dimension to both General Attractors and Species-Specific flies, that being Bead-Head and Non-Bead-Head. As the names imply, bead-heads use beads of various size and density to make the flies heavier, whereas non-bead-head flies will be much lighter and sink slowly, if at all.
STREAMERS - streamers would fall into the "flies that sink" designation. The main distinction for streamers is that unlike dry flies and nymphs where we are using the river to move the flies (also called a "dead drift"), streamers are bigger flies that are meant to be "moved" through the water by the angler. Very similar to lures and spin fishing, streamers are tied to create a predatory response from a fish. As such, streamers come in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures, all meant to act and move differently in the water. Streamer fishing has become more and more popular over the years, mostly due to the aggressive strikes that come, but also because of the larger fish that one tends to catch when fishing streamers.
We always encourage our customers to come in and see is prior to their next fishing adventure, and to always bring in your fly box(s). This way, we can help you decide where you want to go fishing, and then assist you in ensuring you have the right gear (flies, leaders, tippets, etc.). The end result is you will slowly grow your fly selection by ensuring you're purchasing flies that you don't already have, and ones that will be ideal for your next fishing adventure.
The choice of a pack or vest comes down mostly to personal preference. There are quite a few different kinds of packs out there: hip packs, chest packs, backpacks, sling packs, vests, etc. The best thing you can do to pick out your pack is to take into consideration the amount of gear you carry on average and what is most comfortable for you. It is nice to have a few different options for different outings as well, but to start out generally a smaller day pack is a great choice.
Glasses are an important piece of gear. First and foremost, no fish is worth a hook in the eye. Equally important, a pair of polarized glasses minimizes glare and allows you to better see fish and navigate through the water.
Remember, KEEP IT SIMPLE, HAVE FUN, and get out and FISH!