Salomone: One of each
Vail Valley Anglers
April is an odd month in the Colorado high country. The recent snowstorm that locked up the valley, shut schools and wreaked havoc on Interstate 70 is evidence of that fact. Anglers dealing with weather-influenced fishing conditions would be in a good position if they carried one fly from each major category during the month of April. One of each is a good way to stock your fly box for a productive spring day.
The major fly groups that anglers need to be aware of consist of nymphs, emergers, dry flies, streamers, performance flies and wild cards. Wild cards are those fringe flies some anglers detest and others praise. Flies like San Juan worms, squirmy wormies and otter eggs. Performance flies are the tungsten beaded, jig hooked Euro-nymph flies that have a thin silhouette, no hackle and get down deep quickly.
Starting from the beginning of the bug life cycle, anglers will want to imitate the larva stage. Flies are small, size 18 is average, and thin-bodied. As bugs progress through the life cycle and develop into pupae their bodies become distended with a larger than normal head and body compared to the thin silhouette of the larva stage.
Flies for the larva and pupa stages are nondescript flies in small sizes. Both beadhead and unweighted nymphs are good to carry. The zebra midge is the best nymph to carry for success. In different sizes, the zebra midge represents the larva stage and pupae stage depending on size. A wider, heavier-bodied zebra midge is a great pupae imitation for when nymphs are getting active and starting to migrate toward the surface.
Emergers provide subsurface action for visible rises. Trout keying in on emergers will feed near the surface but will use their swimming strength to pick off vulnerable insects. A small RS-2 nymph is a great emerger pattern during the month of April. Water is warming, bugs are active and fish are feeding, which makes the RS-2 such a key fly for success.
When the trout do convert to surface eats, the dry fly to reach for is an Adams. The Adams can imitate adult BWOs as well as adult midges. Try fishing one size larger than the hatch is producing. This leaves a larger silhouette on the surface, which is easier to track and commit to for feeding trout. The larger size also gives anglers an advantageous look at their fly. This helps with tracking your fly visibly.
Streamers work well in the dirty water. Drab, natural tones present a broad shape in the murky currents. Target pour-overs, stair steps and frothy water where aggressive browns capitalize on bait fish caught up in the tumultuous water. Sculpins and small trout are the targets opportunistic trout devour. A black, Mini-Dungeon fly swims with lifelike attraction, sinks quickly and projects a well-defined silhouette that trout will hammer.
The Wild Card foods like worms and eggs tumble along the bottom of the river. As food sources with no locomotion trout have time to eat. And these are big protein food sources that rejuvenate winter-thinned trout. A San Juan worm in pink or tan is the choice for Wild Card flies. Worms bleach out in the water and turn pale in color. A red worm that has been in the water changes to pale pink. And a worm in the water longer will turn very pale making a tan San Juan Worm a successful choice.
Performance flies are the new rage. Euro-nymphing with heavy, jig hook flies that ride along the river bottom sit in the face of stationary fish and force trout to eat. These flies are barbless so maintaining tension is critical during the fight. But the positive attributes outweigh the negative. And the result is an increase in angling success. The overwhelming choice in April would be with the Perdigon fly in olive.
Nymph, emerger, dry fly or wild card choosing one fly from each category that you have confidence in can make or break your April angling adventures. The weather and water are going to present a wide variety of fishing conditions. Pick a fly and approach that exploits the type of water you encounter. Whether it is streamers in the froth, worms tumbling along the bottom or emergers on top, one of each for the month of April will get you through.