Salomone: Throw it all
Vail Valley Anglers
What a wonderful time to be fishing the Eagle or Colorado Rivers. The bugs are out and cool rains have placed the rivers into a healthier temperature range.
Sorting out a few reliable flies to target a little bit of everything is a smart way to set up your fly box. Small stoneflies, consistent caddis and predictable mayflies give fly anglers a huge selection of opportunities to tempt trout.
Early in the morning small mayfly patterns work for the surface. The early gray light is perfect for floating the upright sailboat looking dry flies. A parachute Adams provides the perfect mayfly silhouette for dry fly fishing. The RS-2 is a go to nymph for imitating the little emerging mayflies. Fished as a dropper the unweighted, long-tailed nymphs are a consistent producer especially on the Eagle River. Small, soft-hackle pheasant tail nymphs are another great choice for imitating emerging mayflies.
The Eagle River possesses a tremendous population of grannom caddis. These caddis are prolific nymphs clinging to structures like rocks and branches. When knocked free, trout grab them up for an easy meal.
As adults, caddis are one of the fun insects to fish. Anglers can dead drift, swing or skitter the dry flies across the surface. Trout will grab them any way you throw them. Elk Hair Caddis are the most popular type of dry fly for imitating adult caddis. Hare’s Ear nymphs work as a great nymph pattern for fishing down deep.
Small, yellow stoneflies called a Yellow Sally provide a highly visible food source that trout pick off the surface. The jittery adults crawl with great speed when they land on you but inevitably end up stuck in foam pockets where trout suck them down. Puterbaugh’s Foam Bodied caddis in yellow is a popular dry fly when the hatch is in full swing. Looking like an adult caddis, and having the yellow of an adult Yellow Sally, this fly covers both insects successfully.
The Pale Morning Dun, PMD, is a well known mayfly on the Eagle and Colorado Rivers. When the trout target the PMDs, anglers are guaranteed to have some great dry fly action. Any type of PMD cripple imitation will stack the odds in your favor. Swinging soft hackle Pheasant tail nymphs in the current can bring on some bites when the PMDs are popping.
The area fly shops can fill your boxes with the right bugs. And the local guides can put anglers on some great fly fishing right now. Whether anglers prefer wade fishing or float trips both are producing some quality fishing on all of our local rivers.
From the Upper Colorado River to the 60 miles the Eagle River has to offer, fly anglers have miles to explore while the action is hot. A collection of insects can hatch throughout the day so stocking up on a variety of bugs will cover whatever the river presents. Caddis dries and PMD cripples, yellow sallies and common mayflies combine to create some stellar dry fly fishing anywhere you try.
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 numerous magazines and websites including; Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly mag, 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.