Salomone: A half-dozen flies for fall
Vail Valley Anglers
A quick look in any fly box yields a vast array of flies, some just different variations of the same insect. But when it comes down to it, any angler hitting the river in the fall with a handful of flies can walk away feeling successful. I’m going to give you a half-dozen for fall, six flies to have in your fly box when the leaves begin to drop.
I am guilty of it myself, I carry enough flies to outfit a small fly shop. It’s similar to the Boy Scout mantra of always being prepared, so I carry too many flies when I could really get away with a select group. A few dry flies, a couple nymphs and some meat can cover most situations in the autumn months.
As cool night air begins to prompt leaves to drop from branches, fly anglers can feel confident knowing the following six flies are in their box. The dry flies will capitalize on rising fish that anglers can watch, gain position and make a good presentation to. The nymphs will catch fish anywhere and should always be in your fly box. And the streamer flies, the meat, are a couple proven Autumn performers.
Let’s start with dry flies. Fall is a glorious time to be casting to trout on our local rivers. A couple insects to be looking for would be the end of season grasshoppers. Trout have been smashing the clumsy, long-legged insects along riverbanks for weeks. All of the trout in the river know the hoppers are around. The Frankenhopper has a foam body that stays on top and the rubber legs kick with life.
The generic Parachute Adams is another dry fly that anglers will want to have in their fly box. When anglers encounter rising fish this time of year, a size 18 Parachute Adams will do the trick. Concentrate on your presentation and eliminate drag to sell your dry flies.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Nymphs are always in the watershed. Anglers able to set their nymph rig to the depth and speed of the river will connect with feeding trout. A beadhead Zebra Midge will get trout to eat. A red Zebra Midge is always a go to fly on the Eagle River.
A red Copper John on the Eagle River can be just magical. The wire sinks the fly with a little more depth and the flash works to attract attention and look alive. I have other colors in my box from black to various shades of green and even silver but no other color works on our local rivers like red.
Streamers bring on a feeling of fall fly-fishing. Brown trout ramp up on aggression, chasing slapping and gobbling down any haphazard looking streamer fly. With a hyped-up attitude, brown trout commit to flash and motion making flies like the Tequeely and the articulated Goldilocks go to streamer patterns.
The Tequeely is a gaudy hunk of flash, feather and rubber legs. A true abomination from the fly vice, a Tequeely resembles nothing natural. And yet the fly yields unbelievable results. Heavy, flashy, able to get down quickly and with motion from rubber and feather, the Tequeely deserves some time on the end of your rod in the fall.
The articulated Goldilocks swims through the water. Anglers are able to manipulate the action to mimic an injured, disoriented baitfish, an easy target for swift swimming trout. The gold flash looks fishy. The articulation breaks and bends giving the impression of struggling. Stripped along rocky banks or over drop-offs makes the Goldilocks works wonders. Putting the fly into the correct ambush situations is the key.
A top-shelf selection of flies: Frankenhopper, parachute Adams, Zebra Midge, Copper John, Tequeely and the articulated Goldilocks. A pair of fun to fish and effective dry flies. A couple working man type nymphs. And two of my favorite streamer flies. Fly anglers hitting the river in the fall with this half dozen in their box have already stacked the odds in their favor.
Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River valley in 1992. He began guiding fly-fishing professionally in 2002. His freelance writing has been published in magazines and websites including: Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly, FlyLords, the Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, the Echo website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the bank of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a brace of yellow Labrador retrievers.