Autumn fly-fishing on the Blue River |

Autumn fly-fishing on the Blue River

Steve Chavez fly fishing on the Colorado River earlier this October.
Dale K. Fields / Special to the Daily |

Reel Recovery

I recently met Chris Huth from Denver, a member of Reel Recovery. The national nonprofit organization conducts free fly-fishing retreats for men recovering from all forms of cancer. Meals, lodging and fly-fishing equipment are provided at no cost to the participants. The group’s motto is “Be Well! Fish On.” If you would like to be a participant, volunteer, or make a donation, contact Reel Recovery at 800-699-4490 or visit the website at

Approaching the Blue River a couple of days ago, I was thinking about that beautiful brown trout I was fishing for earlier this summer. Would it be in the same deep run close to the bank? In fall, the water is low and clear. Insects you are trying to match are small: No. 22, about 2 millimeters long and 0.5 mm wide.

The midge is the smallest dry fly I am trying to match.

Fall fly-fishing is a test of all the skills an angler possesses. Use a lightweight rod: 2 to 4 weight, with a 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 rod. Use a long, fine tippet with a 9-foot 6x leader.

Just tying on a size 24 dry fly is a test for all of us. Yesterday on the Colorado, I noticed a gentleman moving to the bank to re-tie a new fly after having a fish refuse his offering. The process of tying on a new fly would take him five to eight minutes. In mid-summer, matching 10 to 12 green drakes would only take 10 to 20 seconds.

In the fall, the small insects hatch for 30 to 60 minutes, once or twice daily, so be prepared with the right fly and leader before approaching the low, clear water that holds the most prized brown trout in our local waters.

Fly smart

Consider getting a local guide for the day to take advantage of his knowledge. It will sharpen your skills and understanding of the special fall season, and this can really pay dividends.

Fly-fishing has been around for a long time. In 1425, Dame Juliana Berner described fishing methods of the time in a book that was printed 70 years later. It is the earliest known printed work in English on fly-fishing. The book described a seasonal regularity in the insects that Dame Berner observed and concluded that the fish’s choice of diet depended largely on the supply of hatching insects. She developed 12 different fly patterns, which she described so well that they can be tied today. Fishing equipment then consisted of these simple flies, long rods of ash, willow or hazel and lines braided with horsehair. No reels were used. Compared to this method, we really have it easy now.

Best local waters

Here are a few suggestions for local waters, plus the best equipment for this time of year.

On the Blue River, use tan and gray caddis (size 16-18), blue wing olive (size 18-20), gray midge (size 20-24) and griffith’s gnat (size 20-22). Also, use nymphs to match the above dries. I suggest streamers (size 6-10) and red streamers for kokanee salmon.

On the Colorado River, use the same dries and nymphs as above, but try using longer leaders, about 12 to 15 feet, and longer rods, 9 to 10 feet.

Remember that the worst day fishing is better than the best day working. Good luck, and good fishing.

Dale Fields is a fourth generation Coloradan and full-time resident of Summit County since 1982. He lives with his wife, two dogs and three cats.

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