Even while the snow is flying and the daytime temperatures are stuck in the low twenties, trout fishermen everywhere are gearing up for the upcoming spring fishing season by reloading their depleted fly boxes with some of their favorite and most effective spring patterns. If you want to join the ranks of those who begin the season ready and prepared, the time to start thinking about it is now. Here is a short list of some of my most trusted spring fly patterns for Colorado’s western slope.
Pats Rubber Leg
The Pats is without a doubt one of the best stonefly patterns around. It comes in a wide variety of color combinations so it can represent a lot of different stonefly species, but since most of our springtime fly fishing will be on the upper Colorado River in the presence of giant salmonfly nymphs, I like to use either the plain black or varigated orange and black bodied Pat’s Rubber Legs in sizes 4 through 10.
It might not happen every day or even every week during Colorado’s runoff season, but every once in a while, I have a day where it seems like every fish in the river is looking for a pink worm. This has happened with enough frequency on both the Eagle and the Colorado that a size 10 or 12 pink worm is often one of the first bugs I tie on during the months of May and June.
Morris Foam Salmonfly
There must be something about the jiggly rubber legs on Skip Morris’ Foam Salmonfly pattern that brings it to life in the eyes of hungry trout. During the short time that trout are feeding voraciously on floating adult salmonflies on the upper Colorado, the Morris Foam Salmonfly is my go-to dry.
For me, chucking streamers to the banks of the Eagle River from a raft during the pre-runoff float season is about as good as it gets, and one of my favorite streamers has become the Sculpzilla. I like them in black, natural, and olive in sizes 4, 6, and 8.
Platte River Spider
It would be negligent of me to talk about the Sculpzilla without following it up with a bit about the Platte River Spider. The ultralight yellow marabou feathers open and close under water with each strip during your retrieve. This gives the PRS a very lifelike action that seems to get the attention of even the most suspicious predators. Sizes 4 through 8 are my favorite.
There is a short period of time just after the high country snow begins to melt, and just before our local rivers and streams begin to swell and turn muddy where fly fishermen get the chance to fish in clear, rising water. It is during this time that the first mayflies of the year start showing themselves, and prepared fishermen can catch fish with a small collection of trusted BWO patterns. Some of my favorite include the popular Barr’s Emerger and RSII in sizes 18 through 24. It is also a good idea to have some BWO dun patterns with both upright style wings and fluttering wings. Some of my favorites are the Parawulff BWO and Quigley’s Hackle Stacker BWO.
Hopefully this list can help you get a head start on your preseason fly box refill project so that you can start the 2015 trout fishing season off the right way – with a tight line. As always, make sure to visit Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards, Colorado for the best fly selection in the Rockies.
Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer