Friday Flies with Campy

The heat of summer has faded and the aspen color show has started with an amazing display.

Last winter’s snow provided us with some of the best water we've had in years, setting us up for an

epic fall.  As the flows decrease and the water becomes clearer, we move to less flash and smaller

bugs.  This week we discuss some of our favorite flies for fall fishing. 


Midge hatches are encountered almost everyday by our guides on all the waters we fish. These should continue to be a major food source for the trout throughout the fall. This fly has the perfect profile to imitate the hatching midges and the right amount of flash to call attention to it. Fished as the bottom fly on a nymph rig in the deeper water or as a short dropper off a dry in the shallow riffles is quite productive. If it’s not working go to finer tippet and try a smaller size.


A Colorado classic, created by John Barr, brings fish to hand anytime the BWOs are hatching. In the fall we see strong beatis hatches. In the spring you can throw this fly in larger sizes but the species that hatch in the fall are smaller in size than their spring cousins.  This fly can be deadly when fished at mid-depth in the water column. Depending on the depth you’re fishing, switch between the beaded and non-beaded versions. 


Rim Chung’s creation is the pure example of an attractor pattern. I fish this fly everyday, with every client during all fall trips. Although it’s not imitative of any particular insect, the sheer numbers of fish I see eat this fly prove it’s a sure winner. I believe it’s taken as a beatis nymph/emerger in the larger sizes and as a midge in smaller sizes (in black especially). If you’re  not connecting with your dead drifts, be sure to try swinging this fly. Moving it from the bottom to the top of the water column can result in some violent takes. Pro Tip: When choosing these from the fly bin, I always select ones tied with the least material (skinny profile) and the longest tails.


Most people don’t think of throwing stoneflies in the fall, but the fact is, the rivers are full of small stones this time of year. Some species take only 3 months to reach maturity,  others as long as 2-3 years. The salmonflies and golden adults that you saw in the summer have completed their mating cycle and proceeded to lay thousands of eggs. These small nymphs, although not “hatching”, are a viable food source for fall trout. This pattern has a slim body which is a great simulation of the skinny abdomens seen in these young nymphs. Once again smaller sizes and muted colors are normally better this time of year. 


Every good fall fly list needs to include at least one goto streamer pattern. Kelly Galloup’s awesome creation can be found in the streamer boxes of every guide in the shop. It’s articulated design and lively rubber legs draw attention from trout both large and small. Most trout become piscivorous once they reach 12 inches in length but it’s important to remember that a trout will eat a fish ⅓ its size. That means that a 12 inch fish could eat a 4 inch fly. As the water’s cool and air temperatures continue to fall, the fish begin to feed heavily in anticipation of winter. Also important to note that the rainbows that were spawned in the spring are now 1-4 inches in size and last fall’s small browns are now a tasty meal for bigger trout. 

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