When the cottonwoods and willows have turned yellow along the Eagle and Colorado Rivers and anglers are greeted with frosty mornings, it’s a sure bet that the next, short few weeks of fall will provide some of the best fly fishing of the year in Colorado. Hatches of Blue-winged Olive mayflies and tiny midges are enough to keep fish feeding throughout the day. Big, fat rainbows are looking to pack on some additional weight before winter and brown trout lose their normal standoffish attitudes and become hyper-aggressive. Low, clear flows make finding trout easier, with deeper riffles, runs and pools all likely holding spots
On any given day, a patient angler is provided with more consistent cloudy weather patterns and ideal water temperatures along with light pressure, and whether wading the Eagle River or floating the Colorado, one can use a variety of methods and flies to catch some of the biggest fish of the season, trout that are in the best shape of the year, at their heaviest weights and putting up the strongest fights.
Fall is simply our favorite season. The scenery is unbeatable, the weather ideal and the trout willing. Throw in the fact that you can start the day off nymphing and when hatches get started by midday it’s a good time to look for risers. When late afternoon rolls around or clouds roll in and the light comes off the water then it’s time to bust out the meat and strip big, bulky streamers that may lead to the biggest brown of your life buckling your rod.
Here’s 5 Must Have Flies for Colorado in the Fall
Articulated streamers have taken over the world of fly fishing and the Cheech Leech is a proven winner already this season having produced several browns over the two-foot mark already this year. A bulky head pushes water and lifelike eyes add attraction. Combined with a realistic swimming motion and the fact that short strikers will still be stuck with the back hook and you’ve got yourself a trophy hunters dream fly. We like the black version best.
The Barely Legal Streamer from big fly guru, Kelly Galloup, is a bulky, articulated pattern with a two-tone color scheme. A weighted conehead helps get it down while the articulated body creates an undulating, lifelike motion that big browns just have to clobber. In October and November it is hard to beat the yellow and brown combination-big brown trout hate it when little browns invade their territory during spawning season.
Pink Beadhead BWO Hollaback Emerger
The hottest guide fly in the Vail Valley Anglers fly shop right now is the Hollaback. While the pink bead doesn’t suggest a real insect it adds noticeable attraction to a spot-on BWO pattern. It’s outfishing classics like the WD-40 and Barr Emerger on the Colorado River right now. Leave the eggs at home and tie on a Hollaback.
For those offended by the hot fluorescent bead on the Hollaback, look no further than Umpqua’s KGB. A silver bead adds emerger style flash while the realistic profile accurately suggests either an olive BWO nymph or a black midge pupae. Try lifting and swing this pattern during the first signs of a hatch.
An oldy but a goody this low-floating dry fly has been the difference maker lately for fooling picky risers like the hefty fall rainbows that have been sipping mayflies in low, clear water on the Eagle. A streamlined profile with the bulk of hackled dry flies, the Comparadun catches big fish when other flies won’t. Just make sure you present this fly without any drag and use light tippet and a dry fly rod with a soft tip that will absorb hooks sets on big risers.
These flies and more are available online and at the Vail Valley Anglers fly shop in Edwards where our expert shop staff and year-round guides are happy to share fly fishing tips. Also check out our website for up to date fishing reports and helpful blog articles.
Brody Henderson, Guide and Content Writer