Your fly fishing outfit, the depth, the fish and so many other details need to be addressed for a successful day on any Colorado river. Arguably, the most crucial is your fly selection. That is not to say that nothing else matters if you have the right fly, because that is not true. However, all your other preparations can be in vain without the right fly for the time of year, and type of fish you are looking to catch. Understanding how to match a hatch has a lot to do with the proper fly selection. Here are our top 5 Colorado Spring fly patterns to complete your rig.
1. PAT’S RUBBER LEGS
One of the most recognizable flies you will see any fisherman carrying is Pat’s Rubber Legs. This should be your go-to in the Spring as it imitates the Salmon Fly (Pteronarcys californica) during their hatch which is typically late May to early June. The rubber legs add unique movement that garners attention from nearby fish. We do not doubt that this will be a clear trout producer for you on any river. Any size between 4 and 8 will do, but you may even consider using a size 2 depending on your observation of the stoneflies around you. We recommend beginner fly fisherman begin using these early on.
Pat’s Rubber Legs | Photo courtesy of pacificflyfishers.com
2. PEACOCK FLUTTERING CADDIS
When the weather starts to warm and the water is about 50 degrees, you’ll see the Mother’s Day Caddis (Brachycentrus Occidentallis) start hatching. If you’re wondering how this fly got its name, you could probably guess it. The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch typically takes place in early May, around Mother’s Day. A great dry fly pattern for the Mother’s Day Caddis we think you should try this Spring is the Peacock Fluttering Caddis, sizes 12-18, because of its natural presentation. Orvis has an awesome video on How to Tie the Peacock Caddis, with some added information.
Peacock Fluttering Caddis | Photo courtesy of orvis.com
3. PHEASANT TAIL NYMPH
Another great fly for catching trout in Colorado is the Pheasant Tail Nymph. This should always be in your collection. This pattern mimics various mayflies and remains relevant from February to December. With a clear resemblance to the Blue Winged Olive (Baetis Vagans), they are excellent in the Spring. If you don’t know how to recognize a Blue Winged Olive (BWO), check out the picture below. Once you spot a BWO in the wild, you’ll never miss one again. We recommend a size 16 in the early spring, otherwise sizes 18 to 22.
Pheasant Tail Nymph | Photo courtesy of bwofly.com
4. ZEBRA MIDGE
Not all currents are fast flowing in the Spring, so making sure you have a fly in your arsenal for slow currents can help you try varying creeks when the fish aren’t biting. The Zebra Midge has a common nymph pattern, but that’s only because it works quite well. If you like to tie your flies, this is one of the easiest, and if you prefer to buy them, they can be quite affordable. This is a year-round fly, so we always recommend carrying a handful with you. Sizes 16 to 26 work well enough.
Zebra Midge | Photo courtesy of feather-craft.com
5. HARE’S EAR NYMPH
For your faster streams, fish the Hare’s Ear Nymph. This pattern works great when the Mayflies’ (Epeorus Longimanus) are hatching from May through July. You should expect a consistent amount of bites, if you aren’t getting even a nibble, then it’s time to try another pattern, or continue moving along the stream. It may be hard to guess where the hatch may occur, but rest assured that these hatches occur frequently. Stay vigilant and keep moving when you aren’t seeing results. Sizes 12 to 14 are recommended, but your observations of the insects around you will give you the best indicator of which size and color your fly should be, as with any fly.
Hare’s Ear Nymph | Photo courtesy of hatchesmagazine.com
This short list should help ensure you have a productive Spring in Colorado. If you want to share your catch with us, or if you have any other flies you recommend, tag or DM us at flyfishingco on Instagram.
Brown Trout | Photo courtesy of ginkandgasoline.com